Biscoff Babka - The Sweet Rebellion
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Biscoff Babka

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A Babka is a braided bread that has been around since the 1800’s. It originates from the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and was originally made with excess challah dough which was rolled up with jam or cinnamon. Recently, babka’s have gained in popularity in the United States too. This is thanks to an Israeli bakery that opened in New York about 10 years ago, selling all types of babka’s including a chocolate variety which has become world-famous!
Babka has been on my “to bake” list for ages, but I wanted to try a non-traditional filling. For those who follow me on social media, you probably know how much I love Biscoff spread (aka Cookie Butter/Speculoos). I am so happy to find that this imported spread is a lot easier to get hold of these days (available at most Spars and also online). I stocked up recently on both the spread and the cookies so I was all set to make my first babka.
Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Just imagine a soft brioche dough filled with lightly spiced, toffee flavoured cookie butter and a crunchy streusel on top. SO good. Also, achieving the beautiful swirly look is much easier than you think!
This recipe makes two loaves, but you can freeze one and save it for a rainy day.

Ingredients:

Makes 2 loaves (21 x 11 cm)

For the dough:
525g bread flour (3 ¾ cups) plus extra for rolling
10g instant yeast (1 sachet)
75g white sugar (6 tbsp)
25g brown sugar (2 tbsp)
250ml milk, room temperature (1 cup)
2 large eggs
5ml vanilla essence (1 tsp)
2,5ml salt (½ tsp)
100g salted butter, room temperature

For the filling:
500g smooth Biscoff spread (2 cups)

For the syrup:
100g sugar
100ml water

For the topping:
6 tbsp Biscoff spread, melted
5 Biscoff cookies, crumbled


Directions:

  • Place the flour, yeast, white sugar and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer).
  • Whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla together in a jug. Gradually add to the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed. Once all the ingredients are combined, add the salt and increase the speed to medium, mixing for 2 minutes.
  • Add the butter, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing on medium-low speed until the butter is fully incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and shiny, and starts to climb up the dough hook. If you don’t have a stand mixer, this can also be done with an electric mixer or even by hand although it is rather hard work!
  • Dust your hands with flour, then gather the dough into a ball and place into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling-wrap, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. The dough will roughly double in size.
  • Grease two 21 x 11cm loaf tins and line with baking paper (leaving an overhang on the sides so it’s easier to lift out later).
  • Gently melt the Biscoff spread by placing the jar in a bowl of warm water or microwaving on low power for 30 seconds. You don’t want it to be too warm, just spreadable!
  • Divide the dough in half, refrigerating one half while you work on the first babka.
  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 30cm x 20cm, with the longer side closest to you. Pour 1 cup of the Biscoff spread onto the dough and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Leave a 1 cm border of dough without filling all around.
  • With both hands, roll up the dough into a tight coil (you will be rolling it away from you from one long end to the other). Trim both edges so you are left with a neat and even sausage of dough. If it’s a very hot day you may wish to refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes at this point to make it easier to work with.
  • Ensure the dough is seam-side down then use a sharp knife to slice the sausage in half lengthwise. Pinch the two pieces together at the top then twist them around each other (almost like braiding). Try not to let any of the Biscoff filling fall out, then carefully lift the babka into one of the loaf tins. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours, until it is has risen (although it won’t quite double in size).
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough and Biscoff filling. You can freeze the babka at this stage (in the loaf tin, well wrapped in clingwrap) then simply defrost at room temperature before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the babka in the middle shelf and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Make the syrup while the babka’s are baking. Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and stir over low heat until dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, and simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • As soon as the babka’s come out of the oven, pierce them with a skewer in several places and pour half the syrup over each one. This must be done while the babka’s are hot.
  • Allow to cool completely, then drizzle 3 tbsp of melted Biscoff spread over each loaf. Crush the biscuits into coarse crumbs, then sprinkle over the top. The crumbs will stick to the melted Biscoff spread and add a lovely crunch.
  • Best enjoyed the same day.


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