Apple Butter Babka Recipe

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This delicious autumn twist on the traditional babka has sweet apple butter swirled throughout the rich, buttery brioche-like dough.

Fall equals baking to me. Christmas, too, but fall time is when I'm elbow-deep in bread and cookies (and brand work, which is usually full of baked goods, too).

This delicious autumn twist on the traditional babka has sweet apple butter swirled throughout the rich, buttery brioche-like dough.

And what's more fall than taking a jar of that homemade apple butter you whipped up after apple picking this year than to see it swirled into a rich, buttery, delicious babka bread?

overhead shot of a loaf of babka sliced on a wooden tray, with apples, apple butter, and cinnamon on the tray

Yeah, exactly.

Jump to:

What is babka?

I love recipes with rich history, so I'm happy to introduce babka into your life! Especially babka that is actually more historic and traditional than a chocolate one!

Babka (pronounced Bahb-kah) is a sweet bread developed by Jewish communities in Eastern Europe in the 1800's; they used extra challah bread, rolled it up with fruit jams or cinnamon, and baked it up just like challah bread.

backlit shot of apple butter babka bread load and slices of wooden tray

And nope, chocolate babka isn't from Eastern Europe (where chocolate was a hard to find ingredient in the 1800s), from what I've found, it's an ingredient added by immigrants once they moved to New York.

Babka's name comes from the Yiddish bubbe and also in Ukraine and Poland baba, meaning 'grandmother'...which is so cute to me. A lot of us are introduced to home cooking and baking from scratch by our grandmothers, so a bread named after grandmas is just so precious.

close up of a slice of apple babka on wooden tray

How to make it

So babka is made of a brioche-like dough. Brioche is rich, fat-intensive type of bread so think lots of butter and eggs and milk. Way more than other breads. It's soft, pillowy, and often a rich, golden color from all the butter and egg yolks. Really, a beautiful and delicious bread that makes babka feel more like a decadent almost dessert-like baked good.

close up of the swirls of apple butter inside the babka loaf

Ingredients

  • Active Dry Yeast. Make sure your yeast is fresh by proofing it as in the recipe.
  • Whole Milk
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Egg Yolks, but save an Egg White to brush on top
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Kosher Salt
  • About a pint of Apple Butter (which I have a homemade recipe for!)

Because babka is made with such a rich dough it takes much longer to rise, so don't worry if you peek on it during its first rise to find that it's barely risen after an hour or two. I usually wait about two to three hours for the first rise before moving along if I notice it's rising a little slow.

You can also let it rise overnight in the fridge for both rises if you're making your babka in advance.

overhead shot of many slices of babka with loaf and apple butter and apples on tray

Pro Tip: Cold weather got you worried about making your bread rise? Warm up your oven to 200 degrees F (93 degrees C), turn it off, then put your covered bowl of dough into the warm, off oven to rise. It's a great way to make bread rise during the cold weather seasons!

Shaping Babka

The traditional way to bake up babka in Europe is to put it in a fluted pan, but the way I have been introduced to it (which is the popular way to make it in the US) is to spread the jammy fruit mixture like a cinnamon roll, twist up the dough and place it into a bread loaf pan, which is where it has its second rise.

process shots of spreading apple butter on the babka dough, twisting the babka into shape, and the risen babka in a bread loaf pan

Make sure to twist and tuck the ends of the dough under itself in the loaf pan so the bread doesn't end up unravelling while baking. The jammy apple butter insides will peek from sides of the rolled up dough, and that's perfectly okay.

Brush on a generous amount of egg white wash before putting into the oven. This gives your bread a beautiful, brown, crispy crust.

Slicing and Serving

Wait until the babka is completely cooled, then use a sharp bread knife to cut thick slices.

Some ways I love serving up babka is by using it in French toast for breakfast, into bread pudding as a decadent dessert, or just with a cup of hot ginger-cinnamon tea on cold mornings.

apple cider caramel syrup being poured onto apple butter babka french toast

Be careful while slicing the bread, it can fall apart when it's still warm. Since the bread is so rich and cake-like, it has a very tender crumb, so be gentle!

Storing and Freezing

Because this babka has a fruit filling, it's best to keep it wrapped in plastic wrap and in the fridge for up to 4 days. Fruit fillings can spoil outside of the fridge, so it's important to put it away in there.

To freeze a loaf of babka, let it cool completely on your counter before wrapping it in a few layers of plastic wrap. Then wrap it in a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil and put it in your freezer. It'll keep for up to a month.

When you’re ready to eat it, place the frozen bread on your countertop and let it thaw to room temperature. Then, take it out of the plastic wrap, wrap it in a single layer of foil, and place it in a 325 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes to warm it through before serving.

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📖 Recipe

Apple Butter Babka

Eden Westbrook
This delicious autumn twist on the traditional babka has sweet apple butter swirled throughout the rich, buttery brioche-like dough
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 5 hours
Course Brunch and Breakfast Recipes
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 1 loaf, 12 slices
Calories 435 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 packet 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • cup whole milk warmed to 110 degrees F
  • 5 tablespoon unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks room temperature
  • 1 egg white for egg wash
  • 2 ½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple butter

Instructions
 

  • In a bowl or measuring cup, stir 1 teaspoon granulated sugar into the warm milk. Gently stir in the active dry yeast. Living yeast will foam up and give off a smell after about 5-10 minutes.
  • While the yeast is proofing, cream together the butter and sugar in your stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed. You're looking for the color to be light yellow and the sugar and butter are mixed together completely.
  • Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract on low speed, then add egg yolks one at a time, beating each one in before the next addition. Mix on a medium-low speed for another 2-3 minutes.
  • On low speed, add 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Give your yeast-milk mixture a quick whisk before adding it into the stand mixer as well.
  • Mix until the flour is just combined, then replace the paddle attachment with your dough hook. Knead with your dough hook, adding 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, just until the dough comes together. The amount of flour you need will be based on humidity and altitude, so gradually add the flour and check the texture of the dough. It should be soft, pliable, and just barely tacky. Watch the dough, it's easy to over-knead in a stand mixer.
  • Once the dough is soft and can be formed into a ball easily, it should be easy to remove from the dough hook, Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough several times by hand until you have a smooth ball of dough. It's much for difficult to over-knead when it's by hand, but be careful to not over-knead.
  • Place the ball of dough into a large, oiled mixing bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Find a warm place to let the dough double in size, like the oven trick or outside if it's a warm day, for about 2-3 hours. It's a rich dough so it'll take a while to rise. While this is rising, line your bread pan in aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has risen, plop it onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a large rectangle. Generously smooth all of the apple butter evenly over the dough, leaving an inch border around the dough.
  • Roll the dough up longways (so it becomes a long log) and then twist the dough into a figure-eight shape. Put the babka dough into the lined bread loaf, cover in plastic wrap, and let rise in your warm space for 1 hour. It should fill the pan almost completely, but it will get huge once it bakes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  • Brush the top of the dough with your reserved egg white and a little splash of water.
  • Place the babka into the preheated oven on the middle rack for 25 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes.
  • Let the babka cool for at least an hour before cutting. To store, wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

Freezing and Thawing Babka

To freeze a loaf of babka, let it cool completely on your counter before wrapping it in a few layers of plastic wrap. Then wrap it in a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil and put it in your freezer. It'll keep for up to a month.
When you’re ready to eat it, place the frozen bread on your countertop and let it thaw to room temperature. Then, take it out of the plastic wrap, wrap it in a single layer of foil, and place it in a 325 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes to warm it through before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 435kcalCarbohydrates: 75gProtein: 10gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 219mgFiber: 3gSugar: 14g
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