Buttery and soft bread loaf with swirls of sweet cinnamon in this Cinnamon Babka make it impossible to have just one slice! Just look at those beautiful swirls!
Cinnamon babka features a buttery, soft bread with swirls of sweet, gooey cinnamon swirled throughout. It's as delicious to eat as it is beautiful to look at.
I won't lie to you, cinnamon babka, or babka of any kind really, is a little time consuming to make. The steps are simple but the rise times are slightly longer than typical bread. All of that being said, this cinnamon babka is absolutely worth the wait!
Whenever I hear "cinnamon babka," my brain automatically goes to the episode of Seinfeld where they're going to a party and trying to get a babka to bring from the bakery. Elaine thinks cinnamon is the "lesser babka." But I agree with Jerry. Cinnamon takes a backseat to no babka!
And let the baking begin. 🙈😆
What is Babka?
Babka is a sweet braided bread that originated in Jewish communities. It is considered a bread and not a cake because it uses a dough with yeast that rises instead of a typical cake batter.
The dough is then rolled out covered in a filling flavor, such as cinnamon and brown sugar in this recipe. Then the dough is rolled up and braided into a loaf.
There are many different flavors and variations of babka including chocolate or fruits such as apple or blueberry.
What is the Difference Between Brioche and Babka?
The Components of Cinnamon Babka
There are three main parts of cinnamon babka: The dough, the filling, and the syrup. And they each play their part to make this one of most delicious breads you will ever taste.
The dough is a bread dough that rises with yeast. It takes a little longer to rise than your typical dough because it is rich with fat, and it is also a little stickier than your average dough. So flour your work surface well!
After making this the first time, I bumped the amount of filling up just a bit to give it even more gooey, sweet cinnamon flavor. The filling for cinnamon babka is a lot like cinnamon roll filling, and it's made with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and an egg white to hold it all together.
When the babka is done baking, you will brush a simple syrup, made from sugar and water, all over it. This will soak into the bread itself, as well as crystallize on the tops for a little sugary crisp around the edges.
Rolling and Shaping Cinnamon Babka
After applying the filling to rolled out dough, you will roll up the dough like a cinnamon roll. You will want to hold the short edge to roll it up so that you get the most gooey cinnamon layers.
Once your dough is rolled up, you will notice that it is not long enough to braid. So we're going to use our preschool-playdoh technique of using our hands to roll it on the counter making a looong snake!
Once your dough snake is about twice the length of your loaf pan, you can twist it into a braid, as shown below in the video. Pinch together the ends, and transfer it to the loaf pan for the final rise!
How to Serve Cinnamon Babka
Cinnamon Babka has the flavor and sweetness of a cake, so by itself, preferably warm is an amazing way to eat it.
Since it's actually a bread, you can also put spreads like butter (like this cinnamon honey butter), peanut butter, or Nutella or even a little drizzle of honey.
More Cinnamon Recipes You'll Love
- Cinnamon Swirl Bread - a yeast bread with swirls of cinnamon. It's a little less sweet than this babka, and I love using it for French toast.
- Cinnamon Honey Butter - the perfect spread for breads and rolls when you want to add a hint of sweet and cinnamon spice.
- Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake Loaf - No yeast in this one! Get the same sweet cinnamon flavors in a fraction of the time.
- Snickerdoodles - soft, chewy cookies with cinnamon sugar around the outside.
- Spiced Sugar Cookies - classic sugar cookies with a spicy cinnamon twist. These cinnamon-y cookies are to-die-for topped with frosting.
Cinnamon Babka Video
For the Dough
- ⅔ cup milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk (reserve white for filling)
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 3¾ cup all-purpose flour
- Oil for greasing (neutral flavor such as canola, vegetable or light-tasting olive oil
- 1½ cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 egg white (reserved from dough)
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Activate the yeast: In a small saucepan over medium heat, add milk and sugar and heat to 110°-115°F.
- Whisk in yeast. Cover. Set aside for 5 minutes to activate yeast.
- After 5 minutes, transfer yeast mixture to a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Prepare the dough: Add butter, eggs, egg yolk, salt, and 1 cup flour.
- Beat on low speed with the dough hook attachment for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then add another 1 cup of flour. Beat on medium speed until incorporated.
- Continue adding flour ½-cup at a time and beating at medium speed until the dough comes together. (The dough should be very soft and almost creamy-feeling. Do not add more flour than you need.)
- Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface for 3 minutes. Add additional flour as you knead it, as needed to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. The dough is very soft.
- 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray or a neutral-tasting oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it once to coat both sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 3-4 hours or until nearly double in size.
- Grease two 9"x5" loaf pans. Set aside.
- At the end of the rise, prepare the filling: In a medium mixing bowl, add all filling ingredients (making sure butter is not too hot so that it doesn't cook the egg white). Whisk together to combine. Set aside.
- Shape the dough: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air.
- Divide the dough in half. Flour a work surface and rolling pin.
- Roll out each half into a 10x18 inch rectangle. Carefully spread the cinnamon filling mixture evenly between the two rectangles.
- Using flour hands, tightly roll up the dough, starting at the short end to form a 10-inch long log.
- On a floured surface, gently roll the dough back and forth (like how you make "snake" with clay) until the log reaches about 16-inches of equal thickness.
- Place the log on its seam. Fold in half, then twist it to form a figure 8. Pinch the ends together. Place in prepared loaf pans.
- 2nd Rise: Cover shaped babka with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise until it’s puffy and nearly reaches the top of the loaf pan, about 1 to 1½ hours.
- Bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove cover from the loaves and place on the middle rack of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until golden brown on top. (Or an internal temperature of about 200°F)
- While the babka is in the oven, make the syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and set aside.
- Once the cakes are out of the oven, gently brush the syrup over them. Use all of the syrup even if it looks like a lot.
- Let cakes cool until they are warm, then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Don't have a stand mixer? Electric hand mixers have dough mixers too, so no problem. Here's the one I have on Amazon.
- Why does it take so long for the dough to rise? Compared to your average loaf of bread, this dough is rich with fat, so it takes longer than other doughs to rise.
- For precise measuring, use a kitchen scale to ensure your dough is divided in half evenly.
- Having trouble shaping your babka? Watch the video about the recipe or here on YouTube, where I show you exactly how to shape it.
- Storage: Cover leftover babka tightly and store at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Freezer Directions: Allow your babka to come to room temperature. Then wrap tightly and freeze for up to 3 to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Never Miss a Thing!
Join our newsletter to get new recipes, tips, tricks, and tutorials every week!