Honey Apple Babka
This is a creation that was half request, half secret bucket-list-wish-fulfillment. My friend Mollie suggested I make something with apple and honey flavors in honor of Rosh Hashanna, the first day of the Jewish new year. Unfortunately, life caught up to me real quick last week, and I missed it and all the apple/honey goodness. But Yom Kippur begins tonight, and what better way to break fast than with a soft, yeasted bread brimming with apples and cinnamon?
While in New York, I'd seen (and eaten) way too many babkas when I worked at a popular Jewish bakery. So I was already familiar with the traditional sweet loaf. I was curious on how to make it, but had never dared try it. Until now!
This recipe is a variation of The Kitchn's Sticky Caramel-Pecan Babka, which looks utterly delicious. For my babka, I changed the fillings and third-ed the recipe (third-d? trecimated?) for a single loaf serving. Smaller recipes are a little less intimidating, I find. However this yeasted bread takes time to make, so it might be worth it to make multiple at a time. If you'd like to do so, revert back to the original, and triple the apple filling ingredients.
Total time: 5 hours-3 days
Bake time: 45-55 minute
Yields: 1 loaf
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra for serving
Make the dough:
1. In a mixer bowl, combine the water and yeast. Let soak for 10 minutes, or until the yeast has completely dissolved.
2. Add the milk, egg, sugar, and vanilla, and whisk until completely combined.
3. Add the flour and carefully stir until combined. It should be a shaggy mess.
4. Beat for 5 minutes with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides.
5. Then carefully add the butter 1-tablespoon at a time (you may need to use your hands to fully incorporate it into the dough). Knead for another 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and springs back at your touch.
6. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover and let it rest for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Then set it in the fridge for at least another hour-up to 3 days (it'll keep, woo!).
For the filling:
1. Slice the two apples (you can skin them if you like, but it's not necessary) into quarter-inch cubes.
2. Toss with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, until just softened, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Allow the apples to cool completely, before forming the loaf (to prevent the dough layers from melting together).
To form the loaf:
1. Grease an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan.
2. Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a well-floured surface.
3. Roll out the dough into roughly a 10-inch x 12-inch rectangle, 1/4-inch thick.
4. Spread the apples evenly over the surface, making sure they reach the edges.
5. Than carefully roll the dough into a log, tucking in the apples into the folds as you roll. If any of the filling falls out, just gently stuff back into the sides.
6. Tuck in the ends and pinch to seal like a burrito.
7. Dip a sharp knife into water, then slice the loaf in half. Twist the separated halves around each other once, keeping the exposed-filling-side up.
8. Carefully transfer into the loaf pan. Let proof another 45 minutes, until puffed up. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
9. Before baking, beat the egg yolk well and brush over the loaf. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Cover the last 10 minutes to avoid burning. Let cool in the pan.
10. In a small frying pan, toast the slivered almonds over medium heat until just browned. Let cool.
11. When the loaf has cooled completely, remove from the tin. You can gently slide a knife around the sides, and then carefully wiggle it out into your palm. Or just leave it, it will still look good.
12. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with almonds.
And finally, enjoy! Serve with extra honey and lots of butter. L'Shanah Tovah!