These pastries are delicious and are filled with cinnamon butter and poppy seeds, raisins and lemon zest. The dough is a simple enriched dough, made surprisingly with plain flour rather than strong flour. This gives the babkas a soft texture and they’re very easy to eat! These babkas are based on a recipe I learnt at a wonderful workshop run by Burnt Honey Bakery, in Copacabana on the central coast of NSW, here made with my own variations.
Instant yeast is used, and in this instance, if you can get hold of Le Saffre Instant Dried Yeast, all the better. It’s perfect for rising enriched doughs. If you can’t get hold of the brand, use standard instant yeast and increase the amount by 50%.
275g milk (room temperature)
1 free-range egg (room temperature)
9g instant yeast (use Le Saffre if possible)
510g plain flour
90g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter in small pieces (softened)
65g brown sugar
25g ground cinnamon
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
Poppy seed filling
50g raisins, chopped
20g poppy seeds
50g caster sugar
Zest of half a lemon
50g caster sugar
10g poppy seeds
For the dough, mix the milk and egg together and whisk in the yeast. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter pieces through the dough. Add the milk, egg and yeast mixture. Turn the mixer onto low and mix to combine the ingredients. Continue to mix on low until everything is incorporated and the mixture looks like a dough. Increase the speed to medium and mix for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes check to see if the dough windowpanes. The dough should be lovely and stretchy, and pass the windowpane test if you pull and stretch a small section – it should be translucent.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or my favourite, a plastic shower cap, and leave to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. Press the dough down, and then place the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours. The dough will develop some more plus firm up to help with the next stage of shaping.
Meanwhile make the fillings and glaze. For the cinnamon filling, beat the ingredients until smooth and creamy. For the poppy seed filling, blitz the raisins in a food processor, then add the other ingredients and blitz briefly until combined. To make the glaze, dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan over a medium heat, bring to the boil then remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 10 pieces. Gently roll each piece into a rectangle. Spread each rectangle with some cinnamon filling, spreading to the edges. Place 2 or 3 dabs of poppy seed filling on the rectangle too. You don’t need very much as it’s quite strong.
Roll up each rectangle along the long side. Starting at one end, cut right down the middle longways, leaving a couple of centimetres at the top. Twist each strip together, and fold the ends together in a loose knot.
Place each babka on a baking tray lined with baking paper. You will need 2 trays. Cover each tray with a large plastic bag and place the trays in the fridge overnight or for several hours.
2 hours before baking, remove the babkas from the fridge to come to room temperature and for the final prove. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C fan. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until a burnished brown.
Remove from the oven and brush each babka with the sugar syrup, sprinkling with some poppy seeds.
Serve warm or at room temperature – these babkas are definitely best eaten on the day they’re made!