Put your oven to good use on a chilly day by making babka, a Jewish treat that’s a hybrid of sweet roll, swirl bread, and coffee cake.

By Nichole Aksamit
Kim Cornelison

Babka recipes vary, but most involve a dough that’s filled, rolled, twisted, and then baked in a loaf pan, sometimes with streusel or glaze. Ours includes a lengthwise cut before twisting, which makes babka’s craveable layers visible from every angle. Don’t worry: It looks fancy (and it IS a little messy), but it’s seriously easy to do.

Get the recipe for Basic Babka

After filling and rolling up the dough into logs, you'll cut each log lengthwise to form two strands.

Kim Cornelison

Twist two strands together with cut sides out, making two or three wide, horizontal twists. Fit into prepared pan, patting back any loose filling and tucking ends under, if needed. Don't worry if it looks messy — it will all work out fine.

Kim Cornelison

If you prefer yours glazed, mix together 1 cup powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons milk in a small bowl. Drizzle over babka loaves after they have cooled 1 hour. Let stand until glaze is set, about 20 minutes.

Kim Cornelison

4 Babka Fillings to try

Kim Cornelison

1. Cinnamon-Raisin Babka

Substitute 2 cups dark raisins and 2 cups golden raisins for the walnuts in the Walnut Filling. Proceed as directed.

Kim Cornelison

2. Peanut Butter & Jelly Babka

Omit Walnut Filling. Spread ½ cup creamy peanut butter (don’t use “natural” peanut butter; the oil will separate) over each dough square. Spoon ½ cup strawberry jam, grape jelly, or raspberry preserves over top of each square; gently spread over peanut butter. Proceed as directed.

Kim Cornelison

3. Apricot-Cream Cheese Babka

Omit Walnut Filling. Beat 2 (8-ounce) packages softened cream cheese with 12/3 cups powdered sugar and 2 eggs in a large bowl. Spread one-third of mixture over each rolled dough square. Spoon 1/2 cup apricot preserves over yop of each square; gently spread over cream cheese mixture. Proceed as directed, increasing baking time to 50 to 55 minutes.

Kim Cornelison

4. Cinnamon-Chocolate Babka

Omit Walnut Filling. Melt 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips with ½ cup butter in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1 cup finely crushed graham crackers and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Spread and pat filling over rolled dough squares while filling is still warm, then proceed as directed.

You made babka. Yay! Now what? 

Slice and serve it with coffee or milk. Toast babka slices under the broiler and top with ice cream for dessert. Use babka slices in place of bread to make French toast.


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This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.