Cinnamon Babka

Cinnamon Babka - Baked

We don’t have a T.V. But trust me, it’s better that way. Can you imagine coming home at 4pm after 9 hours of working with screaming 7-year-olds who barely speak English? What do you think you would most likely do? Go for a run? Start on dinner? Sweep and mop? No. You go to the couch and either fall asleep or turn on the T.V. Lucky for me I can’t take naps, so I had no other option but be productive in some way. But I promise you all that if I had a T.V. I would turn to the most mindless show there was and zone out until dinner time…and because I hadn’t been preparing anything it would have been Pollo Campero and I would be wearing sweat pants within a month. I mean…can you imagine a Latino version of General Hospital and the men dressed in mariachi costumes? Its got to be addicting. Or better yet, Jerry Spring in Spanish. Just kidding…

Cinnamon Babka - Dough and SugarCinnamon Babka - Rolled up and oozing

But we do get our fill of T.V. shows. First it was Scrubs. We own all the seasons (all the seasons worth watching anyway…we don’t believe in Scrubs without J.D). We went through those in about 3 months. Then it was the Office Sporadically. I brought it from the U.S. last Christmas. We just had one season, and when it ended we searched in every Blockbuster in the city, and even checked with the street vendors who sell pirate copies. It was not to be found. I guess the average Guatemalan faces enough pain in their daily working lives that they don’t need to relive it at home. Then there were random episodes of Sledge Hammer (shout out to anyone who has actually heard of it!) and Coupling for a while. Then, after our last visit home, we became the proud owners of all 9 seasons os Seinfeld. It has been holding us over quite nicely, but, as we approach the end of season 6, I’m starting to get a little nervous about what we’ll do at the end. We can’t afford any more shows.

Cinnamon Babka - Twisted in panCinnamon Babka - Baked Close Up

We were watching Season 6, Eppisode 77 of Seinfeld, when “The Dinner Party” topic came up. Everyone is familiar with the commonly accepted social convention of bringing a bottle of wine or dessert if you have been invited for dinner to someones home. Elaine is explaining this to a begrudgingly stingy, and unemployed George, however he looses out and goes for the wine while Elaine and Jerry go for the dessert. As they walk to the local bakery, they decide on the Chocolate Babka – the ultimate of ultimate desserts. Upon entering the bakery they dart for the case to admire the pastry which will make them heroes of the party, but caught up in their fantasy they forget to take a number. As they kindly explain to a couple the clearly saw come in after them that it should be their number (logically…right? Because in New York people are that nice). Among negotiations they discover they are attending the very same dinner party. Unfortunately the couple doesn’t concede, proceed to order the last Chocolate Babka, and Elaine and Jerry arrive an hour late to the dinner party with the inferior Cinnamon Babka- with a hair on it nonetheless.

Cinnamon Babka - Sliced

This made me curious about the Babka. I’d never in my life heard of Babka, let alone had I tasted it, so the next day I Googled it. What I encountered was a decadent dessert with amounts of butter, chocolate, and sugar that I would never have the courage to bring into my home. However I really admired the technique of preparing the swirly loaf, and decided I could apply it to my favorite cinnamon rolls using my icebox roll dough recipe. So, in all reality this isn’t a Babka, chocolate or cinnamon. Perhpas it is inferior, as Elaine and her dinner party might judge. But the dough does not differ all that much. I doubled the butter and put 50% more sugar in the dough than my original recipe, to add slightly more richness. However this will remain a lighter dessert than any authentic Babka you will ever try. But thats how we like them here. A little sweet bread with our coffee after a filling meal. Feel free to search a traditional Babka recipe, be it chocolate or cinnamon. But if you want something slightly lighter, I encourage you to try this!

Cinnamon Babka (Makes 1 loaf)

1/2 a recipe icebox dough, prepared (or another prepared dough you like)
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Grease a bread pan generously with butter and line with parchment if you have it. I never have it so I never use it. Just makes it easier to get out at the end. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. Cut the dough in half. Set one half aside, and roll the other out into a large rectangle, as thin as you can without tearing the dough. Try to get it 1/8th an inch thick. Spread half of the butter on top the rolled out dough, leaving a 1/4 of an inch board on all sides. Sprinkle the 1 cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top, keeping the boarder.

4. Tightly roll up the dough, squeezing gently. Pinch the end of the roll together, and use some water if need be to keep it sealed.

5. This is the fun part! Twist the roll like you are wringing it out (but gently!) about 8 times around if you can. Press it gently to the workspace to secure it.

6. Now, at this point, notice the last picture I posted of the slice of babka. Notice that the center is rather bare? You don’t want it to have that empty-bready space in there, do you? You want it full of sugar and spice. I didn’t understand this step, so I skipped it, but if you want a really pretty and tasty slice, I recommend you do the following: on top of the left half of the twisted roll, spread some more butter, and sprinkle some more sugar. Fold the right half over it, press gently, then twist a few times around (you’ll probably just get two or three). Place in greased bread pan.

7. Bake at 350ºF for 50 or 60 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, cover with foil for the last 20 minutes or so.


3 Responses

  1. This looks amazing…

    ::mouth waters::

    If I visit you in Guatemala will you cook for me?

  2. I am so trying this!!

  3. This looks sooo yummy!

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