Cinnamon Bun Babka

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This! Is what Easter weekend is all about. Sweet breakfast breads (waffles! crêpes! cinnamon buns! babka!) and trying to outsmart the nephews (who are smaller, bendier and wilier than I) for Mini Eggs. I gave cinnamon babka a go early – I’ve wanted to try it for awhile, and figured chocolate babka on top of the Easter hunt may be a bit over the top. Truth: cinnamon is not a lesser babka.

Cinnamon Babka 14

Also! I had a jar of Rosen’s Cinnamon Bun Spread on my shelf, and it suddenly seemed as if it was made for babka. It was – if you can get your hands on a jar, a small one was perfect for two babkas, and I warmed it for no more than 10 seconds in the microwave first just to give it added spreadability. Otherwise, mix brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and a bit of honey or maple syrup for added stickiness.

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Really, I just wanted to make another babka so I could take pictures of it. They’re so ridiculously satisfying to make – all the twistiness makes it look finicky, but it’s really not – it’s forgiving, and once you cut and twist and tuck the dough into the pan, no matter how wonky it is, it will look fabulous coming out of the oven. Which is what I love about the chemistry of baking.

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I posted more how to twist visuals here – this time I was just baking, and only decided to share when I found the finished product visually irresistible. And perfect for Easter brunch, partly because the recipe makes two.

Cinnamon babka 10

Cinnamon Babka
Cinnamon Babka

Cinnamon Bun Babka


March 28, 2018



3/4 cup warm milk

3 tsp. active dry yeast 

1/2 cup sugar

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces and softened


1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 egg, beaten (for brushing)


1To make the dough: put the milk into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and sprinkle over the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Let stand for a few minutes, until it gets foamy. (If it does nothing, toss it and get some fresh yeast.) Add about half the flour along with the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt and stir or beat with a dough hook until well combined. Add the remaining flour and stir or beat, adding the butter a few pieces at a time, until you have a sticky, smooth dough. (It should be very soft and tacky, but as sticky as batter - it will smooth out and be easier to handle as it rises.) Shape into a ball, place in the bowl and cover with a tea towel for 2 hours.

2To make the filling, stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir in the butter and honey until smooth.

3Line two 8x4-inch loaf pans with parchment. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into about a 10x12-inch square/rectangle. Spread each piece with half the cinnamon mixture. Starting at a long side, roll up jelly roll style. Cut the rolls in half lengthwise, then lay them side to side and pinch them together at the top to join, then weave the pieces back and forth over each other, like braiding but with only two pieces. Tuck into the baking pan, tucking in the edges. Don’t worry about it being perfect.

4Cover and let rise for another hour or two. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F, brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until puffed and deep golden. (Some recipes say the bottoms should sound hollow when tapped, but I find the dough is too dense and loaded with filling for this to be an accurate gauge.) Try to let them cool almost completely before slicing - but babka is pretty fabulous while it’s still warm.

5Makes 2 loaves.


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6 comments on “Cinnamon Bun Babka

  1. Wendy
    March 29, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Your cinnamon bun babka looks sooo good and is perfect for Easter breakfast or as a sweet start to the upcoming Royal wedding day.

  2. Rhonda
    March 31, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I thought that because the recipe makes two loaves, why choose?
    So I made one chocolate and one cinnamon.
    Both are delicious. Hard to decide which I like better.
    This recipe is a keeper.

  3. Janie Falesy
    April 2, 2018 at 6:35 am

    I made this bread for Easter morning and it was a hit! I prepared the dough the night before including the first rise and the bread turned out perfect. Thank you for sharing.

    • Julie
      April 6, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      Yay – I’m so glad!

  4. Kritika
    August 10, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Julie, this looks really very delicious, can you please make a video of making this (or if you already have one then can you please share a link)? I am pretty much sure our Jaipur girls will love it.

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