A fluffy babka lightly spiced with cinnamon and luscious swirls of raspberry jam. This jam donut babka will have you craving more!
What is babka?!
Babka is a Jewish brioche-like pastry often filled with chocolate or cinnamon. It is most popular in Eastern Europe, Israel and the USA! However, you can make it at home with a few simple ingredients from your local supermarket.
When Vibe Israel invited me to visit their country, I knew I had to try authentic babka! We tried chocolate and fruity babkas from Vivida Vegan and they were sensational! I wrote a whole blog post about my favourite eats in Israel here. The babkas were everything I expected and more – they tore perfectly and just melted in your mouth!
Traditionally, a babka recipe makes 2 small loaves. I’m not 100% sure why but I suspect it’s because babka needs to be baked in smaller containers rather than large. Or that babka is normally shared during the Jewish Shabbat (a Friday evening celebration) where food needs to serve LOTS of people.
I have a reignited enthusiasm for this jam donut babka recipe!
How to make babka vegan?
Babka is essentially brioche dough with a filling (such as chocolate or jam) and braided into a pretty shape. You can find my recipe for my basic vegan brioche on my website.
To make brioche or babka vegan, I simply substituted:
- Conventional butter with vegan butter
- Dairy milk for plant-based milk
It’s simple as that!
How to make the quick jam
You can either use store-bought raspberry jam or make your own at home with a few simple ingredients including:
- Fresh/frozen raspberries
- Organic sugar or a liquid sweetener (optional)
- Corn flour
- Lemon Juice (optional)
- Dash of water
Pop it all in a small saucepan, mix until thickened and then you have the quickest jam EVER!
Why combine babka with the jam donut?
Babka and the jam donut are like two people who haven’t met yet but are ‘meant to be together.’ Traditionally, babka is often flavoured with just cinnamon. Cinnamon goes superbly with fluffy dough so I took this on and added a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the recipe.
If you add spread raspberry jam to the recipe, you have a taste explosion! The combination is so good that you won’t miss the normal cinnamon or chocolate babka.
Baking with yeast
Don’t be intimidated by baking with yeast!
Before baking, people sometimes add yeast to warm milk to ‘proof’ it. This is usually just a way to ‘prove’ whether the yeast is still active. Yeast that you’ve purchased months years ago may have lost its potency over time. My TIP is: keep yeast in the fridge because it can last months or a year past its due by date. I speak from experience!
However, if you know your yeast is still active, you don’t need to proof it. 95% of the time I don’t proof the yeast and it works fine!
I also use instant dry yeast which does NOT need to be activated before using it. Fresh yeast and other types of yeast do/may need to be activated in advance!
Kneading the dough
Contrary to mixing cakes, you NEED to knead the dough for a good amount of time (say around 3 minutes using a stand mixer). This activates the gluten and encourages it to form long strands so the baked product has a wonderful bounce and stretch.
Under kneading the dough will result in a short and crumbly cake like texture. Over kneading the dough will result in a tough dough.
I used a stand mixer for this recipe as I have delicate wrists and cannot do repetitive activities. If you use your hands to knead the dough, you’ll need to knead it for at least 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and bouncy. It’s difficult to over knead the dough with your hands because you’ll end up tired!
The dough is ready when it’s dry to the touch, STRETCHY and slightly bouncy. If you poke it with a finger, the dough should bounce back slightly!
Resting the dough
Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with a lid, tea towel or plate. Make sure the bowl is big enough so the dough can double in size.
Position the bowl in a warm draught-free spot in your home and wait until the magic happens! During this time, the yeast is eating up the sugar and produces gas or bubbles which makes the dough rise.
If your dough doesn’t rise initially, re-position the bowl to a warmer location. If this still doesn’t work, your yeast might not be active and you’ll need to start again.
How to assemble the babka
Basically the fun but slightly messy part!
Generously flour a clean surface and roll the dough out into a rectangular shape. The long side of the rectangle should be around 150% times the length of your baking tin. If it’s any longer, don’t worry!
Spread that fruity jam on and roll the dough as if it was a jam roll! Easy?!
How to shape the babka
There are several ways to shape babkas, including in a ring, in a knot and such. This is the most simple method and creates a babka which is a textural delight!
- Slice the ‘jam roll’ in half lengthways creating two strips of dough
- Press the ends of the two strips together.
- Weave / fold / twist them together with the jam facing up (because it’s pretty). It’s like making a braid / plait but with just two strips!
You can see the babka is much longer than my tin. I patted the babka with my hand to shorten the length of it and placed (or stuffed) it carefully into the loaf tin. I love how the swirls reshape themselves.
Don’t worry if there are any gaps when you first place the babka in the tin. It’ll sort itself out when it rests and rises for the 2nd time!
All the handling of the dough means it needs to rest again. And you should have a pre-emptive cuppa too!
Baking the jam donut babka
I baked the babka at 170°C instead of the normal 180°C as I found that 180°C browns it too quickly! It’s a tall and wide dough so I wanted the heat to get right in the middle!
The sugar glaze for the babka is to give the loaf a beautiful shine and add some more moisture to the loaf. The babka is already quite moist so you don’t need much glaze!
I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Other vegan baking recipes
If you enjoy baking with yeast, check out my:
Jam Donut Babka (vegan)
Quick Raspberry Jam (or use store-bought thick jam!*)
- 3 cups (375g) plain or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup (125mL) plant-based milk, such as almond, soy or coconut, warm
- 1/2 cup (112g) vegan butter, room temperature
- 3 tbsp (40g) organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) instant dried yeast**
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- Pinch of any good-quality salt
Babka glaze (optional)**
- 1/4 cup (50g) organic cane sugar
- 2 tbsp (30mL) water
- To make the jam: Add all ingredients to a small saucepan with a dash of water and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until the raspberries have broken down and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat. If you'd like the jam to be smoother, puree with a stick blender. Set aside to cool.
- To make the babka: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer and mix until it comes together. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until the dough becomes soft, stretchy and comes away from the side of the bowl. If the dough continues to stick, add a little more flour and knead again. If the dough is a little dry, add a dash of milk and knead again. Leave the dough in the bowl or stand mixer, cover with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
- Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape (the long side should be a little longer than your loaf tin). Spread the cooled jam onto the dough 2 cm / 1 inch away from the edge.
- Starting from the long side of the dough, roll it into a tube.*** Use a sharp knife to cut the tube in half length ways creating two long 'strips' of pastry. Carefully twirl the two halves together.
- Lift the twirled dough into a lined or dusted loaf tin (I used a 10x20cm or 4x8inch tin). Place a tea towel over the babka and set aside to rise. It won't double in size but should rise a little.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F).
- Bake the babka for 30-40 minutes or until the outside is golden brown and a skewer can be inserted into the middle and there is no wet dough on it. If the outside is browning too quickly, turn down the oven to 160°C (320°F) and cover the babka with an oven-safe bowl or plate. Remove the babka from the oven.
- To make the sugar glaze: Add the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. While the babka is still hot, drizzle the sugar glaze on top.
- The babka is best eaten the day it is baked. Alternatively, store it an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
This post was first published in April 2019 and updated in March 2020.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible. Rainbow Nourishments receives a high number of questions through social media and email and is unable to respond to each individual query. Comments on this post are more likely to receive a response!
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below and a star rating! This will help me, other readers and allow this blog to be seen by more people. If you post your creation on social media, please tag @rainbownourishments and #rainbownourishments.