Cranberry-Orange Babka

With babkas popping up in bakeries across the country, and the holidays being prime time for sweet loaves stuffed with all sorts of sticky yumminess, we felt it was about time we created our own holiday-themed babka. Cranberry-orange is one of our most popular flavor combinations at this time of year, so it was the perfect fit for this tender, soft, sweet and tart loaf.
Prep
45 mins
Bake
45 to 50 mins
Total
4 hrs 30 mins
Yield
one 9" x 5" loaf
Cranberry-Orange Babka

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Combine all the ingredients and mix and knead to make a smooth, supple dough.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise until it has just about doubled, 60 to 90 minutes.
  3. To make the filling: While the dough is rising, combine the orange juice, brown sugar, and both types of cranberries in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat.
  4. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken to a jam-like consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the melted butter, orange oil or grated rind, and spice.
  6. Transfer the cranberry mixture to a heat-safe bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  7. To shape the loaf: Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 12" x 14" rectangle.
  8. Spread the cranberry filling over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2" border along the edge of one of the short sides. Sprinkle Orange Jammy Bits evenly over the filling.
  9. Starting with the filling-covered short edge, roll the dough up jelly-roll style, sealing the edge.
  10. Cut the log in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Place each half side by side, filled sides up.
  11. Keeping the filled sides up, twist or braid the two logs together, working from the center to each end.
  12. Pinch the ends together, and place the twisted log in a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.
  13. Cover the loaf and allow it to rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until it's crowned 1/2" to 1" over the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  14. Bake the babka for 45 to 50 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil about halfway through baking to prevent over-browning. The top of the finished loaf will be golden brown, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will read 190°F or above.
  15. Remove the loaf from the oven. For a softer crust, brush the top of the loaf with melted butter, if desired. After 10 minutes, remove the babka from the pan and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Add a drizzle of icing, if desired: Mix 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar with about 1 tablespoon milk or cream, enough to make a pourable icing. Drizzle over the cooled babka.
  • You can also bake this loaf in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan for the same amount of time for a taller, narrower babka.