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Sourdough Cinnamon Babka

This sourdough cinnamon babka is made from sweet and soft brioche dough filled with a cinnamon-brown sugar filling. This recipe makes two babka loaves.

Sliced Sourdough Cinnamon Babka.


Babka is a sweet, fluffy bread that comes from Eastern European Jewish traditions. It’s made with a brioche style dough. Chocolate babka is pretty popular, but in my book, cinnamon babka is even better —even if Elaine from “Seinfeld” calls it the “lesser babka.

I’ve used my sourdough brioche dough as the base. It has a lovely soft texture, tender crumb, and subtle sourdough tang.

Ingredients

Here’s a rundown of what you need for this sourdough cinnamon babka. The amounts are on the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Strong all-purpose flour with around 11% protein
  • Sugar – White sugar for the dough, and brown sugar for the filling.
  • Large eggs
  • Sourdough starter – I make a stiff starter for this dough.
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Butter – This can be salted or unsalted butter. For the dough and the filling.
sliced babka on parchment paper.

Stiff starter

I feed my starter a bit differently than usual when making this enriched sourdough babka dough. Normally, I feed my starter at 100% hydration (equal parts in weight of water and flour), but for this dough, I cut the water in half.

A stiffer starter rises slower than a more hydrated one, taking its time to grow steadily without peaking too soon. The main reason I go stiffer is so I can add more starter to the dough without bringing too much extra liquid into the dough. This brioche benefits from a long fermentation time and I’ve found that the extra bit of starter really makes a difference.

For this particular dough, I make a separate levain using a 1:2:1 ratio—1 part starter, 2 parts flour, and 1 part water (always measured by weight, not volume.)

Equipment

For the easiest results, use a stand mixer. The brioche dough is very sticky. There are lots of eggs and butter in it and this extra fat and moisture mean gluten development in the dough is slow. Use a stand mixer if you can, as the dough needs 10-15 minutes of mixing to create the gluten structure necessary.

Baker’s schedule 

Here is the baker’s schedule I use for this sourdough babka. You can adapt and tweak to suit your own environment and schedule.

  • The night before
    • Feed the starter
  • Day 1
    • 9 am – Mix the dough
    • 9:30 am – Let it rise in a warm spot until bulked out by half (approx 4-6 hours, depending on temperature)
    • 3:30 – Refrigerate the dough overnight.
  • Day 2
    • 9:30 am – Shape the babka and let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size
    • 2:00 pm – Bake.

Method

  1. Mix the starter with flour and water. Knead it together into a soft dough ball. Place it into a lightly greased jar and cover with a lid. Let it rise for 8-10 hours until it doubles in size and is domed on top.
shaggy dough ball.
  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and starter in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment.Turn the mixer on low speed and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough.
butter added to dough in mixer.
  1. Mix this dough for around 5 minutes to begin developing the gluten. 
  2. Add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time.
stretchy dough in mixer.
  1. Turn the mixer on medium sped and mix it for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together, and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. 
fingers stretching glossy dough.
  1. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then see if you can stretch a little bit out thinly so it’s see-through, without tearing. This is called the ‘windowpane test’ and shows proper gluten development. 
  1. Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a warm spot, ideally around 25°C/ 76°F, but under 30°C / 86°F so the butter doesn’t melt. Let the dough rise until it has bulked out by at least 50-60%. This will take around 5-7 hours, depending on temperature. This dough will struggle to rise if the temperature is too cool.
  2. Don’t rush this rise. It’s an important one and will set the standard for any future rising the dough will do.

Cold proof

  1. Once risen, place the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to shape it.

Shaping

  1. Grease and line two 9×5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper
a bowl of cinnamon and butter and sugar mixture.
  1. Beat the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon into a creamy paste in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Pull the cold dough from the bowl (it will be stiff) and weigh it on a kitchen scale. Cut it into two equal pieces.
cinnamon filling spread with silver spatula on dough.
  1. Take one piece and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle measuring around 11×14 inches (27×35 cm).
  2. Dollop half the cinnamon-sugar mixture on. Use an offset spatula to spread it out, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border around all the sides.
hand rolling dough up.
  1. Roll it up, from the long side upwards, into a log. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough piece and the remaining filling. 
cut dough with cinnamon filling.
  1. Once chilled, slice a log in half lengthwise with a sharp knife to expose the cinnamon filling.
hands braiding dough.
  1. Take the top two ends and fold them over. Lift the left half over the right half, then the right over the left, and repeat all the way down, exposing the cinnamon filling.
braided Sourdough Cinnamon Babka.
  1. When you reach the end, tuck the dough underneath to compact the loaf. Place the braid into a prepared loaf pan.
risen babka in pan.
  1. Let the sourdough babkas rise again in the loaf pans in a warm spot until it has doubled. I like to use a turned-off oven with a mug of hot water in there to create a humid spot so the babka doesn’t dry out.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and place a rack in the middle. Bake the babkas for approximately 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are browning too much, loosely cover the tops with foil. 
  2. While the babkas are baking, prepare the sugar syrup to glaze them. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat. 
brushing sugar syrup on babka.
  1. Once the babkas are removed from the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup. 
Sourdough Cinnamon Babka baked.
  1. Let them cool In their pans for 20 minutes, then remove them and let them cool further on a wire rack. Serve the babka at room temperature or slightly warm. 

Storing

Babka can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, it can be frozen in a freezer bag for future use. On the following days, it will stiffen up because of all the butter in the dough, but babka reheats well in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until warm. 

sliced babka on parchment paper.

Sourdough Cinnamon Babka

Elien
This sourdough cinnamon babka is made from sweet and soft brioche dough filled with a cinnamon-brown sugar filling.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 386 kcal

Ingredients
  

Stiff Starter

  • 35 g sourdough starter
  • 70 g all-purpose flour
  • 35 g water

Dough

  • 550 g all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • All the stiff starter
  • 125 g milk
  • 8 g salt
  • 180 g unsalted butter room temperature, cubed

Cinnamon Filling

  • 115 g unsalted butter softened
  • 150 g soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Sugar syrup

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 60 g water

Instructions
 

  • The evening before: Mix the starter with flour and water. Knead it together into a soft dough ball. Place it in a lightly greased jar and cover with a lid. Let it rise for 8-10 hours until it doubles and is domed on top.
  • The following day: Add the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and starter in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough.
  • Add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time.
  • Turn the mixer on medium sped and mix it for 10-15 minutes. Mix until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together, and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  • Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then see if you can stretch a little bit out thinly so it’s see-through, without tearing. This is called the ‘windowpane test’ and shows proper gluten development.
  • Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a warm spot, ideally around 25°C/ 76°F, but under 30°C / 86°F so the butter doesn’t melt. Let the dough rise until it has bulked out by at least 50-60%. This will take around 5-7 hours, depending on temperature. This dough will struggle to rise if the temperature is too cool.
  • Don’t rush this rise. It’s an important one and will set the standard for any future rising the dough will do. Once risen, ensure the dough is covered tightly and place in the fridge until you’re ready to shape it.

Shaping

  • Grease and line two 9×5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper
  • Beat the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon into a creamy paste in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Pull the cold dough from the bowl (it will be stiff) and weigh it on a kitchen scale. Cut it into two equal pieces.
  • Take one piece and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle measuring around 11×14 inches (27×35 cm).
  • Dollop half the cinnamon-sugar mixture on. Use an offset spatula to spread it out, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border around all the sides.
  • Roll it up, from the long side upwards, into a log. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough piece and the remaining filling.
  • Once chilled, slice a log in half lengthwise with a sharp knife to expose the cinnamon filling.
  • Take the top two ends and fold them over. Lift the left half over the right half, then the right over the left, and repeat all the way down, exposing the cinnamon filling. When you reach the end, tuck the dough underneath to compact the loaf. Place the braid into a prepared loaf pan.
  • Loosely cover the babkas and let them rise in the loaf pans in a warm spot until they have doubled in size – around 4-6 hours depending on temperature.

Baking

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and place a rack in the middle. Bake the babkas for approximately 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are browning too much, loosely cover the tops with foil.
  • While the babkas are baking, prepare the sugar syrup to glaze them. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat.
  • Once the babkas are removed from the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup.
  • Let them cool In their pans for 20 minutes, then remove them and let them cool further on a wire rack. Serve the babka at room temperature or slightly warm.

Notes

Babka can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, it can be frozen in a freezer bag for future use. On the following days, it will stiffen up because of all the butter in the dough, but babka reheats well in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 386kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 221mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 2gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 610IUVitamin C: 0.03mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword babka, Brioche, Cinnamon, Sourdough
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