A fluffy vegan babka lightly spiced with cinnamon and with luscious swirls of raspberry jam. It's hard to stop at just one bite with this jam donut babka!
Table of contents
What is babka?!
Babka is a Jewish brioche-like bread or pastry often filled with chocolate or cinnamon. It is most popular in Eastern Europe, Israel and the USA! However, you can make it at home with a few simple ingredients from your local supermarket.
Traditionally, a babka recipe makes 2 small loaves. I'm not 100% certain why but I suspect it's because babka needs to be baked in smaller baking tins. Or that these breads are normally shared during the Jewish Shabbat where food needs to serve LOTS of people.
Although untraditional, if you add raspberry jam and nutmeg to parts of cinnamon babka, you basically have an incredible bread reminiscent of jam / jelly doughnuts! It's soo good that you won't miss traditional babka!
Unfortunately, not all babka is vegan. However, to make it egg-free, dairy-free and vegan, I simply substituted:
- Conventional butter with vegan butter
- Dairy milk for plant-based milk
- Eggs for extra vegan butter
It's simple as that!
Ingredients you need to make babka
You basically need a few ingredients to make a vegan brioche dough (or enriched bread) and thick raspberry jam. This includes:
- Vegan block butter or spreadable butter
- Instant dried yeast
- Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
- Plant-based milk
- Reduced store-bought raspberry jam or quick jam (see below)
Making a quick raspberry jam
You can make a super easy quick jam at home! You just need a few simple ingredients including:
- Fresh/frozen raspberries
- Organic sugar or a liquid sweetener (optional)
- Corn flour
- Lemon Juice (optional)
- Dash of water
Pop it all in a small saucepan, mix until thickened and then you have the quickest jam EVER! You can also use this jam for cookies like my mini jam tarts.
Baking with yeast and troubleshooting
Don't be intimidated by baking with yeast!
I used instant dry yeast which does NOT need to be activated before using it.
Fresh yeast and other types of yeast do need to be 'proofed' in advance. This is where you add the yeast to warm milk beforehand. It helps 'prove' whether your yeast is still active!
If you purchased the yeast months ago, it may have lost its potency. So I always recommend people keep yeast in the fridge so it can last months or a year past its due by date. I speak from experience!
However, if you know your yeast is still active, you don't need to proof it. 95% of the time I don't proof the yeast and it works fine!
Kneading the babka dough
Contrary to mixing cakes, you NEED to knead the babka dough for a good amount of time. This activates the gluten and encourages it to form long strands so the baked product has a wonderful bounce and stretch. Under-kneading the dough will result in a short and crumbly cake-like texture.
If you're using a stand mixer, it can take around 5-10 minutes for the dough to become soft and stretchy. If you're kneading it by hand, it will take a little longer.
The dough is ready when it's slightly tacky but not sticky. For the best results, I recommend kneading your dough until it reaches the windowpane stage.
Resting the babka dough
Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a lid, tea towel or plate. Make sure the bowl is big enough so the dough can double in size.
Position the bowl in a warm draught-free spot in your home and wait until the magic happens! During this time, the yeast is eating up the sugar and produces gas or bubbles which makes the dough rise.
If your dough doesn't rise initially, re-position the bowl to a warmer location. If this still doesn't work, your yeast might not be active and you'll need to start again.
How to assemble and shape the babka
Basically the fun but slightly messy part!
Generously flour a clean surface and roll the dough out into a rectangular shape. The long side of the rectangle should be around 150% times the length of your baking tin. If it's any longer, don't worry!
Spread that fruity jam on and roll the dough as if it was a jam roll! See, it's easy to bake with jam!
Babka can be shaped in a few ways, including in a wreath or knot etc. For simplicity, we're just making babka into a loaf. Basically you:
- Slice the 'jam roll' in half lengthways creating two strips of dough
- Press the ends of the two strips together.
- Weave / fold / twist them together with the jam facing up (because it's pretty). It's like making a braid / plait but with just two strips!
You can see the babka is much longer than my tin. I patted the bread with my hand to shorten the length and placed (or stuffed) it carefully into the loaf tin. I love how the swirls reshape themselves.
Don't worry if there are any gaps when you first place the babka in the tin. It'll sort itself out when it rests and rises for the 2nd time!
All the handling of the dough means it needs to rest again. And you should have a pre-emptive cuppa too!
Baking the jam donut babka
I baked the babka at 170°C instead of the normal 180°C as I found that 180°C browns it too quickly! It's a tall and wide dough so I wanted the heat to get right in the middle!
The sugar glaze in this babka recipes gives the bread a beautiful shine and gives it back some more moisture. The babka is already quite moist so you don't need much glaze!
I hope you enjoy this recipe!
More vegan babka and bread recipes
Jam Donut Babka (vegan)
Quick Raspberry Jam (or use 160g of store-bought thick jam, see note 1)
- 2 ½ - 3 cups (315 - 375g) all-purpose plain flour, or bread flour (start with less flour and add more if needed)
- ⅔ cup (165g) dairy-free milk, warm
- ½ cup (112g) vegan butter, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons (40g) granulated sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) instant dry yeast, (note 2)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
Babka glaze (optional, see note 3)
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30g) water
To make the jam:
- Add all ingredients to a small saucepan with a dash of water.
- Boil the raspberry mixture for 5 minutes. Reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until the raspberries have broken down and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat. If you'd like the jam to be less lumpy, puree with a stick blender. Set aside to cool.
To make the babka dough:
- Line an 8 inch (20 cm) loaf tin with parchment paper. A longer loaf tin will work well too.
- Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until all ingredients come together.
- Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. The dough is ready when it's soft, stretchy and comes away from the side of the bowl (or kneading surface). If the dough hasn't formed a smooth ball, add a dash of milk and knead again. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl (or kneading surface), add a little more flour and knead again.
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Rest the dough in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size. If the dough doesn't double in size, place it in a WARMER spot and wait until it does.
Shaping the babka:
- Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape around 10 x 8 inches (25 x 20 cm) large. The long side of the dough should be a little longer than the length of your loaf tin.
- Spread the jam filling onto the dough leaving a 1 inch (2 cm) border around the edge.
- Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a log (note 4). Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthways. This will create two long 'strips' of dough. Carefully twirl the two strips together. Use the pictures in the above blog post for guidance.
- Lift the twirled dough into your loaf tin. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for at least 1 hour. The babka is ready when it rises by at least 20% and looks soft and puffy. You can also let it rest overnight in the fridge, as long as you bring the babka back to room temperature before baking.
Baking the babka:
- When your babka is ready for baking, preheat your oven to 170°C (340°F).
- Bake the babka for 30-40 minutes. The babka is ready when its surface is be golden brown and if you insert a skewer into the middle and there's no wet dough on the skewer.
- If the top of the babka is browning too quickly (and the middle isn't cooked), reduce the oven to 150°C (300°F) and cover the babka with aluminium foil (or an oven-safe bowl which doesn't touch the top of the babka). Remove the babka from the oven.
To make the sugar glaze (make this while your babka is baking):
- Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. While the babka is still hot from the oven, pour the sugar glaze on top.
- The babka is best eaten on the day it is baked. Alternatively, store it an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. Warm up the leftovers before serving.
- If your store-bought jam is a little runny, reduce it on the stove for 5 minutes. Add the jam to a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until it's thick and sticky rather than runny. If in doubt, the thicker the better! Use the pictures in the blog post for reference.
- Instant yeast doesn't need to be 'activated' or 'bloomed' beforehand. However, if you use another type of yeast, combine it with warm milk and a pinch of sugar beforehand. Wait until it bubbles then use it in the recipe.
- Alternatively, use 50mL of any liquid sweetener instead of the sugar and water. Heat it up and drizzle on the hot babka.
- If your dough is too soft to shape, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. This is just for the babka's appearance and won't affect its taste or texture.
This post was first published in April 2019 and updated in March 2020.
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