Chai Babka from the author of “Preppy Kitchen: Recipes for Seasonal Dishes and Simple Pleasures”


Chai Babka

FOR THE BREAD

1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk

1½ teaspoons finely ground black tea leaves (from about 1 tea bag)

21/4 cups (300g) all-purpose flour 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

21/4 teaspoons (1/4-ounce envelope/7g) instant yeast

2 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the bowl and pan

FOR THE FILLING

½ cup (110g) firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon water

FOR THE HONEY SYRUP

1/4 cup (60ml) water 1/4 cup (85g) honey 1 cinnamon stick

A freshly baked sweet bread in the morning is a comforting season staple. My biggest pet peeve is a dry cinnamon roll or babka, so I’ve made it my mission to create a version that is a rich yeasted pillow sent from heaven. To do that, I’ve packed this recipe full of butter and cream, steeping black tea in the milk for the dough, and combined brown sugar and chai spices to create the perfect autumnal flavor. This goes particularly well with a warm cup of coffee or tea and a nest of soft blankets.

MAKES 1 (9 X 5-INCH) LOAF

MAKE THE BREAD: In a microwave-safe measuring cup, microwave the milk to 110ºF to 120ºF, about 30 seconds. Stir in the black tea and let the mixture steep for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, and yeast. Add the milk and tea mixture, followed by the eggs and salt. Attach the dough hook and set the mixer to low speed. Beat the mixture until a dough starts to form but still looks crumbly, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, letting each

tablespoon fully incorporate before adding the next. Once all the butter is added, continue beating on low until the dough is sticky and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Grease a large bowl with butter and add the dough, turning it a few times to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper, letting the excess fall over the sides of the pan.

MAKE THE FILLING: When the dough is done rising, in a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of water and stir until well combined and pasty.

Turn out the dough on a clean work surface and gently roll it out to

a 12×20-inch rectangle. Spread the filling on the dough all the way to the edge on three sides, leaving a 1-inch border on one short side. (The dough may pull a little bit while you spread the filling, but it shouldn’t tear.) Starting at the short side opposite the border, roll the dough into a tight coil and pinch the seam to seal. Using a large sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise. Position each half parallel to each other with the cut sides facing up. Twist the halves together, keeping the cut sides facing up, and tuck the ends under. Gently place in the prepared loaf pan.

Cover and let the dough rise until the loaf has risen almost to the top of the pan, about 1 hour.

MAKE THE HONEY SYRUP: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine ¼ cup of water with the honey and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Uncover the loaf pan, set it on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until deep golden brown. After about 40 minutes, if you find the bread is browning too quickly, you can cover it with foil for the remaining time. Immediately pour or brush the Honey Syrup

about the bread. Let the bread cool in the pan for at least an hour before removing and slicing.

Text Box: TIPS & TRICKS Yeast is greatly affected by the temperature of the room when it's rising.  If you're making this bread in warmer months, it may rise in half the time on your counter.  If making this recipe in cooler months, preheat the oven to 200ºF for 5 minutes.  Then, turn the oven off and place the dough or shaped loaf inside the oven to rise.  If your oven has a light inside, you can also leave that on to help maintain a little bit of warmth.  Don't flour your work surface when rolling out the dough.  It's oily enough to not stick to the counter or rolling pin, and flour will cause it to slip.  How-ever, if the dough starts to wrinkle when rolling, gently lift the dough and stretch it slightly to release it from the counter.

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