Vegan Cinnamon Babka with a soft buttery brioche-like dough and swirls of cinnamon sugar. This babka is easy to make with the help of step-by-step pictures in the post!
For a no-rise cinnamon cake, check out my vegan cinnamon quick bread.
Ingredients you'll need
Ingredient substitutions and notes
All-purpose flour or bread flour. All-purpose flour creates a slightly cakier vegan babka whereas bread flour results in a taller and fluffier that is slightly chewier.
Vegan block butter for the easiest assembly. Alternatively, you can use a spreadable vegan butter but you will need to decrease the milk or add more flour. Room-temperature coconut oil will work but I recommend adding more salt for flavor.
Granulated sugar for the dough and to help the yeast rise. Brown sugar for the cinnamon filling. Alternatively, you can use brown sugar for both!
Instant yeast doesn't need to be proofed beforehand and rises faster than any other yeast! Alternatively, you may use dried or fresh yeast if you proof it beforehand. Simply mix it with the milk from the recipe, a pinch of sugar and mix. Wait until it bubbles then use it in the recipe.
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making the dough
The brioche-like dough is very easy to make! If you're using instant yeast, you can throw all the ingredients in your stand mixer or bowl.
My biggest tips:
- The dough takes at least 5 minutes to knead in a stand mixer and a little longer if kneading by hand. For the best results, knead the dough to the windowpane stage.
- The final dough should be soft and tacky but not sticky. If your dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of milk and knead again. If it's too wet, simply add 2 tablespoons of flour at a time and knead.
First rise for the dough
After you've kneaded the vegan babka dough, place it in a floured or greased bowl and allow it to double in size.
It will take anywhere from 1-4 (or more) hours for your dough to double in size. This will depend on your dough and the temperature of your home. If it's taking longer than expected, place the dough in a warmer spot in your home.
In contrast to other bread doughs (such as pizza or focaccia), babka dough is 'enriched' with butter which slows down the rising process. The butter in the dough needs to remain warm and soft in order for the dough to rise!
Rolling up the dough
The first part of assembling the vegan cinnamon babka is similar to making cinnamon rolls. We need to spread the filling on the dough and roll it up into a log.
Tips for rolling the dough:
- If your dough is too soft, chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Make sure you punch down the dough then store it in an airtight container. Chilled dough is always easier to work with.
- If your dough is sticking to your rolling pin or surface, add a little flour. But don't add too much flour as it'll make your vegan babka drier.
- Make sure your filling isn't too warm! It should be room temperature and spreadable rather than melty. A warm filling will make your dough warm and more difficult to roll.
We're rolling the babka from the short side as a shorter log is easier to place in your loaf pan!
Tips for cutting your log:
- If your log is thicker or thinner in areas, you can reshape it with your hands.
- Use the sharpest knife that you own (serrated or regular) to cut your babka in half. For a neat cut, use long smooth motions.
How to shape babka
In the second stage of assembly, we're shaping the vegan cinnamon babka. My top tips are:
- Take your time and breathe!
- Make an 'X' shape with the strips of dough. This means you won't have to deal with super long strips every time you braid the dough.
- If your final babka is longer than your loaf tin, 'squish' your babka to make it shorter before you place it in. It's a lot easier to squish it beforehand, rather than while you're placing it in your tin.
Second rise for the babka
All the hard work is done at this point! Allow your vegan cinnamon babka to rise once more. It should rise by around 20%.
When your babka is almost ready, preheat your oven.
Like all enriched doughs, babkas brown quickly in the oven due to their high amount of butter. If the top of your babka is browning quickly in the oven, carefully tent the pan with aluminum foil. I usually cover my babka at the 20-minute mark.
If your oven runs on the hot side or has strong top heating elements (like mine), you can also bake the babka on your lowest oven rack.
When your vegan cinnamon babka is ready, I recommend brushing a simple sugar syrup on top. This doesn't only give your babka a beautiful shiny surface but will trap in some moisture which makes it stay fresher for longer!
This vegan babka is best enjoyed on the day it is baked. However, if you serve it on a later day, I recommend warming it up in the microwave or oven.
It's wonderful by itself, toasted or with some vegan butter!
Alternatively, you can use it in a vegan french toast casserole! I'd just omit the sugar used in the casserole as the cinnamon babka is sweet enough.
Making babka overnight
My top recommendation is to make the dough and place it in an airtight container overnight. The next day, you can roll the vegan babka while it's still chilled. The dough will be firmer but once the dough is flattened, it'll be much easier to roll and shape!
Alternatively, you can shape the shaped vegan cinnamon babka (in the loaf pan) in the fridge overnight. Your loaf pan should be in a large airtight container to prevent it from drying out. However, babka sometimes rises in unexpected ways (for example, it may rise and collapse over 10 hours) so it's safer to chill the unassembled dough.
Customizing the recipe
Yes! To the filling, you can add:
- Chopped walnuts, pecans
- Par-cooked apple pieces or check out my vegan cinnamon apple rolls
On top, you can add a delicious crumble, such as from my quick cinnamon bread recipe. Add the crumble just before baking and keep an eye on the crumble so it doesn't burn.
I've tested the brioche dough with a few brands of gluten-free flour but the results weren't great. However, if you've successfully made a yeasted bread using a gluten-free flour blend, go ahead and use it!
More vegan babka and bread recipes
Vegan Cinnamon Babka
- 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
- 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) instant dry yeast, (note 1)
- Pinch of any good-quality salt, if using unsalted butter
Simple sugar glaze (note 2)
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar, or sugar of choice
- 2 tablespoons (30g) water
- Line an 8-inch (20 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper. A longer loaf pan will work well too.
Make the babka dough:
- 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 is too dry, add a dash of milk and knead again. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour and continue kneading.
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a kitchen 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.
Make the cinnamon filling:
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool until it thickens to a spreadable consistency.
Shape the babka (note 3):
- Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle around 12 x 18 inches (30 x 45 cm) large and a little less than ¼ inch (0.5cm) thick.
- Spread the filling onto the dough very close to the edge.
- Starting from the short side, roll the dough into a log. 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 post for guidance. If your babka is longer than your loaf pan, gently squish it so it's around the same length.
- Place the vegan cinnamon babka in your loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 1 hour. The babka is ready when it rises by at least 20% and looks soft and puffy.
Baking the babka:
- When your babka is almost ready to bake, preheat your oven to 170°C (340°F).
- Bake the babka for 35-45 minutes. If the top of the babka is browning too quickly (and the middle isn't cooked), loosely cover the babka with aluminum foil. The babka is ready when its surface is deep golden brown or if you insert a skewer into the middle, there shouldn't be any wet dough on it.
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, brush and pour the sugar glaze on top. Make sure you use up all the glaze!
- Allow the babka to cool in the loaf pan for at least 30 minutes. The babka is best eaten on the day it is baked and served slightly warm or at room temperature. For neat slices, allow the babka to cool completely and cut with a sharp serrated knife.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm up leftovers before enjoying.
- Instant yeast doesn't need to be 'activated' beforehand. If you use another type of yeast, combine it with the milk from the recipe and a pinch of sugar beforehand. Wait until it bubbles then use it in the recipe.
- Alternatively, use 50g of any liquid sweetener instead of sugar and water. Heat it up and drizzle on the hot babka.
- If your dough is too soft, it will be difficult to shape. If so, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour to firm up. This is just for the bread's appearance and won't affect its taste or texture.
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