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I came up with this Cinnamon Babka recipe to accommodate those with nut allergies who cannot enjoy my Cinnamon Toasted Pecan Babka recipe. Now that I’ve done this, I’m all confused as to which I prefer. They are both delish!

People seem to get excited and dazzled when they see a babka. I guess it looks “fancy”, and some think that making it seems intimidating. However, making babka is actually super easy. I think people get nervous about slicing the log of dough in half. There’s really no reason to be nervous! Just know that it is going to be messy. Once baked, that frog becomes a prince.

I intentionally wrote this recipe in a very detailed manner. When we look up recipes in a cookbook or magazine, the authors and publishers necessarily need to limit how much instruction they give because each recipe is allotted only so much space. In this blog, I have unending space, so I decided to provide you with as much detail as possible. So, please do not look at this recipe and think, oh, that’s too long for me to make. As I said, making babka is easy.

Six Easy Steps to Make Cinnamon Oatmeal Babka:

1. Make the Cinnamon Babka dough

Using a KitchenAid mixer makes this step seamless. Especially if you are using dry active yeast, the important thing here is to make sure that your eggs and butter are at room temperature. Forgot to take them out of the refrigerator and feeling so excited to get started that you do not want to wait 30-60 minutes for the eggs and butter to get to room temperature? No sweat. Check out my Getting to Room Temperature post. If you are using instant yeast, the eggs can go in directly from the refrigerator.

Piece of dough stretched showing that it passes the window pane test
The dough is kneaded and ready for the butter to be incorporated when a small piece of it forms a “window pane”, meaning it stretches, without breaking, to the point of being translucent.

2. Allow the Cinnamon Babka dough to rest

A great alternative to making your babkas in one day is to place the dough in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, make your filling. Then remove the dough from the refrigerator. You will find that the dough is much easier to roll out when it is cold, and you can have warm, cinnamon babka in time for brunch!

Ball of babka dough in bowl
Once the butter is incorporated, allow the dough to rise.

3. Shape the Cinnamon Babka dough

This is the part that looks complicated, but it is really just messy, which is perfectly ok! Roll the dough out into a rectangle, spread the filling on it, roll it up like a jelly roll or cinnamon rolls, then slice the log down the middle. Then use both portions to form an X. Starting from the middle, twist the ends downward towards you, then go back to the middle and twist the ends moving towards the top. Plop it in prepared pan.

Dough rolled out with filling spread on it
Roll the dough out to a rectangle and spread the filling all over it, leaving about half an inch border.
Babka dough rolled into a log
Roll the dough up into a log. Then, using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut the ends off and set them aside. Then cut the log down the middle.
Two halves of babka dough forming an X
Place the two halves of the log over each other to form an X. Starting from the middle where the piece of dough intersect, twist the two strands twice working downward. Return to the middle and twist the two strands twice going upward.
Shaped babka
The shaped, twisted babka, ready to be placed n the prepared pan. Keep the scraps from the ends of the log to bake in a small, separate dish.

4. Let the Cinnamon Babka dough rise

Once the dough is rolled out and shaped, let it rise. If you refrigerated the dough overnight, I recommend letting the shaped dough rise for a full 1½ hours.

Babka dough in prepared baking pan
Once the babka is in the prepared pan, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and allow it to rise.

5. Bake

I have followed recipes that told me to take the internal temperature of the babka and that it was done at 185°F. Every time I would remove it from the oven after it reached 185°F, the middle would sink in because it was under baked. I find that 45-50 minutes is perfect, and the internal temperature at that time is usually over 205°F. To take the temperature of the babka, I highly recommend this thermometer from ThermoWorks. I literally use it to take the temperature of anything I make, from ice cream to breads to tempering chocolate.

Two babkas in separate baking pans ready to be baked.
Once fully risen, bake it! Be sure it is done by taking its internal temperature, which should be at least 205° F.

6. Make the glaze

The glaze is super easy to make and can be done in one pot. If you want a thicker, more frosting-like consistency, add more confectioner’s sugar.

Baked babka, glazed, on serving dish
The perfect cinnamon babka!

Cinnamon Oatmeal Babka

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 24 slices
Calories 231
This nut-free cinnamon babka is a real crowd pleaser! This recipe makes two loaves. (Glaze recipe adapted from Sadelle’s in New York City as published in Food and Wine in January 2016.)

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 7 g. active dry or instant yeast (2¼ tsp. or 1 envelope)
  • 245 g. 1 cup milk*
  • 75 g. granulated sugar, divided (⅓ cup plus 2 tsp.)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 480 g. all purpose flour (4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 113 g. unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into 8 pieces (8 tbsp. or ½ cup)

Filling:

  • 120 g. oatmeal**, ground in blender or food processor (1⅓ cup)
  • 50 g. unsalted butter, melted (3½ tbsp.)
  • 16 g. ground cinnamon (2 tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 220 g. brown sugar *** (1 cup)
  • 46 g. heavy cream or milk (3 tbsp.)

Glaze:

  • 113 g. unsalted butter (8 tbsp. or ½ cup)
  • 46 g. whole milk (3 tbsp.)
  • 16 g. ground cinnamon (2 tbsp.)
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt (or regular table salt)
  • 165 g. confectioners’ sugar (1½ cups)

Instructions 

  • Prepare Dough. [If using instant yeast, skip to Step 3 and add the yeast and the milk (can be cold) with the rest of the ingredients.] In microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval, warm milk to body temperature, generally between 105°F and 110°F. Alternatively, you can heat the milk in a saucepan on a low flame, stirring constantly. Either way, do not let the milk get above 115°F. (If you do, just let it sit out at room temperature for a couple of minutes constantly checking it until it cools to body temperature.)
  • Place warmed milk into bowl of electric mixer. Sprinkle yeast and approximately 1 tsp. of the sugar over the milk. Using a fork, stir the mixture to distribute the sugar and hydrate the yeast granules. Allow to sit for approximately 3-5 minutes until the mixture gets foamy.
  • Add the room temperature egg, the room temperature egg yolk, and the vanilla to the mixture. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on at a low speed and add the rest of the sugar. With the mixer running at the lowest speed, add the flour. As the flour starts to get absorbed by the liquid mixture, raise the mixer to a medium speed. You may need to turn the mixer off once or twice to wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Allow to knead for approximately 3 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl. If it is too wet (sticking to the sides and bottom of the bowl), add some flour, no more than 1 tbsp. at a time. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk, 1 tsp. at a time.
  • Lower the mixer speed to low (1 or 2 on the KitchenAid) and slowly add the salt, allowing it to knead into the dough, an additional 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and take a small piece (less than 1 tsp.) of dough and stretch it between your fingers. It should form a “window pane”, meaning it should get thin enough that it is translucent without it ripping. If it is not at that point yet, continue kneading in the machine at 1 minute intervals. (It may just need an additional minute or two to reach the window pane stage.)
  • With the mixer running at medium speed, add the butter. It is best to add it one piece at a time, waiting until it is fully integrated into the dough before adding the next piece. You may need to turn off the mixer from time to time to push the slab of butter back into the range of the dough and the hook. This process will take approximately 5 minutes. Once all the butter is incorporated, the dough will look shiny and be slightly sticky. (If, after several minutes, the butter is still not fully incorporated, do not panic. Just move to the next step – having some unincorporated butter is not problematic in this recipe. That said, the key to incorporating the butter is nothing more than patience.)
  • Lightly grease a bowl with a little butter or nonstick cooking spray. Form dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Turn the dough over to coat it in the butter or nonstick cooking spray and cover tightly with plastic wrap.**** Let the dough sit in a warm area on the counter until doubled in size, approximately one hour.
  • Make the filling. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
  • Prepare two loaf pans, 8 or 9 inches long, and 3 to 5 inches wide, by coating with nonstick cooking spray or butter. (Using butter imparts more flavor on the edges of your babkas.) For an even easier pan removal, use parchment paper on the bottom and/or sides of the pan, but be sure to coast the parchment with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
  • Once dough has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and de-gas it by folding it over onto itself and knead it a few times by hand. Divide it in half, preferably by weight. Cover one half with plastic wrap until you are ready to work with it.
  • Roll dough out to three inches longer than the length of your pan. (If you are using a 9 inch long pan, roll it out to 12 inches, to form a rectangle of 12 inches by approximately 16-18 inches. The dough should be approximately 1/8 inch thick.
  • Leaving a border of ½ an inch on every side, spread ½ of the filling on the dough.
  • Have the dough facing you the long way so that the side of the dough that is three inches longer than the length of your pan is facing you. For example, if your pan is 9 inches long, the side of the dough that is 12 inches long should be in front of you. Roll the dough upward so that you have a 12 inch long log. Trim ½ inch to an inch from both sides of the log. (Tip: Save these trimmings and bake in a separate greased pan with trimmings from second log. This is the “mini babka” you get to taste so you can present the two babkas to your guests and already know how good it tastes!)
  • Slice the log down the middle in half, exposing the layers of filling. Form an X with the two pieces, and cross the two over each other starting from the middle going down towards you. Repeat from the middle going up. Place dough in prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit until doubled in size, approximately one hour.
  • Repeat steps 10-13 with second portion of dough from step 9.
  • Approximately 30 minutes into the second rise, preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Once the babkas have doubled in size, bake for 45-50 minutes. The babka is done once the top is golden brown. (Best to take the babka’s temperature. It is done when the internal temperature reaches 205°F).
  • Cool babkas in pans for 10-15 minutes and then remove them from their pans onto a wire rack. (Use a metal spatula or flat knife against the sides of the pans before turning the pans over.)
  • Make the glaze. While the babkas are cooling on the wire rack, melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Immediately spread over warm babkas. The glaze will start to harden after a few minutes. Once at room temperature, if not eating immediately, cover in plastic wrap. If they actually last so long, they stay fresh for several days wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature. They also freeze beautifully, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months.

Notes

*Use whole milk, or if in a pinch, 2% milk. Anything less, and you will lose the benefit from the fats in the milk which add to both the flavor and texture of the babka.
**Use old fashioned oatmeal, not the quick one minute oats.
***Either light brown or dark brown sugar.
****At this point, you can place the covered bowl, before letting the dough rise, in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, continue with step 7. The dough may not have doubled in size in the refrigerator, but that is not a problem. After you have shaped the babkas and placed them in the pans in step 13, allow them to rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 1½ to 2 hours, rather than 1 hour. 
Author: Rob Finkelstein
Calories: 231kcal
Course: Bread, Breakfast, Tea Time
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: babka, cinnamon, oatmeal

Nutrition

Calories: 231kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 113mg | Potassium: 70mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

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