This Ultimate Cinnamon Babka recipe is sure to impress with its soft, sweet yeast bread and decadent cinnamon sugar swirls!
Babka is a traditional Jewish bread, baked for the Sabbath meal each week. It’s a sweet yeasted bread filled with cinnamon and sugar, or other sweet fillings. The key is the shape – babkas are beautiful twisted loaves, magnifying the sugary swirls inside and on the top!
Our Cinnamon Babka recipe started as a swirled cinnamon yeast bread. Then we took it up a notch by adding a twist. Voila! Babka!
The history is worth reading. Here is a wonderful article by My Jewish Learning all about babka and the tradition of baking this amazing bread.
Making this Cinnamon Babka Recipe
The recipe looks complicated, but it’s really fairly simple. Take the time to read it through and you will know exactly what to do to make your own amazingly impressive loaf of cinnamon bread goodness!
It does take some time because, as with all yeast breads, it needs time to rise. So, plan ahead. But you don’t have to babysit it constantly. Feel free to go about your business while the yeast does its thing. If you need to run out or do something else that will take you away from your rising loaf for a bit too long, place it in the refrigerator. The cold will slow down the rise, allowing you the extra time you need. You will need to allow it to come back to room temperature and finish it’s rise before moving to the next step, though!
This can be helpful if you want your babka freshly baked in the morning. Prep it all the way through the twist, place it in your prepared pan, cover, and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Pull it out first thing in the morning and preheat your oven. After half an hour or so, it should have finished rising and will be ready to bake.
Tips and Tricks
Anyone can make this cinnamon babka recipe. Really! Here are some tips to make it easier.
- For those new to working with yeast, if you pay close attention to your temperatures, it will be no problem for you! Active dry yeast, which we use here, needs to wake up before it will help your dough rise. Warmth and a bit of sugar helps. But too much heat will kill it, so keep it only slightly warm, just a touch above normal body temperature. That means it should feel warm on your skin but not hot. Think temp of a warmed baby’s bottle.
- You will be able to see and smell your yeast working. When it’s ready, it will look foamy on the top and will smell like bread. If it doesn’t, start over!
- Shaping your babka is the trickiest part. Once you cut your rolled dough, the sides may want to fall apart. Simply face them filling-side-up, and hold it together while twisting the halves over each other. It may look messy, but it will still bake well! Scoop up any filling that has fallen out and sprinkle it over the top of your loaf before its second rise.
- Because of the sugar, your loaf may begin to darken before it’s cooked through. If that happens, cover it loosely with a bit of foil to keep the top from burning.
- The Best Loaf Pans – We love USA pans for cake and bread because of their consistently good quality. This one is a great choice for this cinnamon babka recipe! Glass pans like this one can also be useful because they allow you to see how well your bread is browning on the bottom.
This Dough and Filling Are So Versatile!
Craving cinnamon rolls? Or a simpler, non-twisted cinnamon bread? This recipe is perfect. Simply make the dough and filling as directed, but shape it differently.
For cinnamon rolls, roll the dough and fill as directed. Instead of rolling up starting with a short side, roll it starting with a long edge so you have a long roll of dough with a smaller diameter. Cut into 1-2 inch pieces, then arrange them cut-side-up and side-by-side in a round or rectangular baking pan. They need the same second rise, but will bake more quickly. Keep an eye on them and watch for the same signs of doneness. Top with an easy icing made from confectioner’s sugar and milk.
For a non-twisted loaf, fill and roll as directed in the recipe, then place it in your loaf pan without cutting it lengthwise and twisting the pieces. Easy!
Serving Your Cinnamon Babka
For the unforgettable brunch, serve this alongside Egg Casserole with Bacon and Spinach and a bowl of fresh fruit.
Sliced cinnamon babka also makes a great snack, especially when toasted and topped with butter.
If you have leftovers – a rarity over here – pieces of cinnamon babka make excellent french toast or bread pudding.
Want More Breakfast Favorites?
We have so many options. Choose your favorite or try them all!
- Breakfast Burritos with Sausage
- Mom’s Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread
- Best Egg Sandwich
- Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cookies
The Ultimate Cinnamon Babka Recipe
For the Dough:
- 250 grams (1 cup) whole milk
- 35 grams (2-1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 42 grams (2 tablespoons) honey
- 10 grams (1-1/4 tablespoon) active dry yeast
- 360 grams (3 cups) bread flour
- 10 grams (1 tablespoon) coarse kosher salt (or a scant 1/2 tablespoon table salt)
For the Filling:
- 66 grams (5 tablespoons) brown sugar
- 20 grams (2-1/2 tablespoon) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 5 grams (2-1/2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
- 18 grams (1-1/4 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted
- Warm the Liquid for Your Dough: Whisk together the milk, butter, and honey in a small saucepan set over low heat. Continue stirring until the butter has melted. Cool to 110 degrees F. (It should feel slightly warm on your wrist, but if testing by feel, be sure to test the middle and not just the surface, which cools more quickly.)
- Bloom the Yeast: When the milk-butter mixture has cooled, whisk in the honey and yeast, then allow to rest for 5 minutes. The yeast will “bloom” and the mixture will become somewhat foamy.
- Mix Your Dough: Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour and salt. When the yeast is ready, add it all at once to the flour. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary to incorporate all of the flour. Turn the mixer to medium-low and knead for 10 minutes.Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a large bowl, then knead by hand on a lightly oiled surface for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough stretches to a thin sheet without breaking.
- First Rise: After kneading, lightly coat the dough with oil on all sides, cover the bowl, and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Make Your Filling: When the dough is nearly done rising, make your filling by whisking together the brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Prep the Pan: Prepare a loaf pan by lightly oiling it or spraying it with baking spray.
- Roll and Fill Your Dough: Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it into a rectangle measuring approximately 18×8 inches. The short side should be no bigger than the length of your loaf pan.Brush the melted butter all over the dough, leaving one of the short edges dry (for sealing your loaf), then sprinkle it with the sugar mixture. Beginning with the non-dry short end, roll the rectangle tightly. Press down at the end to seal the edge.
- Shape Your Babka: Carefully cut your loaf in half lengthwise with a sharp serrated knife, leaving the end furthest away from you intact. Gently turn each half so that the cut side is facing up. Carefully lift the right side over the left, then repeat with the half now on the right. The layers may fall open here. If they do, carefully hold them together while moving the dough. Pinch the ends together and carefully place the dough into your prepared pan.
- Second Rise: Lightly spray the top of your babka with baking spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise a second time for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the Oven: About 20 minutes before your loaf is done rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake: Bake your loaf for 30-40 minutes, or until it is golden brown all over and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf itself. The internal temperature should be 190 degrees F.
- Cool and Serve: When it’s finished baking, remove your bread from the oven and immediately remove it from the pan. Set it to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
- This dough and filling combination also makes wonderful cinnamon rolls. To make cinnamon rolls, roll your dough starting at a long edge, then cut into 1-2 inch pieces. For larger cinnamon rolls, adjust the dimensions of the rectangle.
- If you don’t want to twist your loaf, instead of cutting it lengthwise as instructed, simply place your rolled, uncut loaf into your prepared pan, seam side down, and proceed with the second rise.