Perfumed with warm chai spice, this crunchy and aromatic babka is a twist-pardon the pun-on the more common cinnamon babka, bringing all the comfort of your favorite tea latte to the enriched babka formula. You’ll welcome this spicy changeup. Find more delicious babka recipes in our September/October 2020 issue!
Chai Streusel Babka
2½ cups (313 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons (3.75 grams) kosher salt
¼ cup (60 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water, divided
¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter
¼ cup (60 grams) whole milk
½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla extract
2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
Chai Filling (recipe follows)
Chai Streusel (recipe follows)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1 cup (125 grams) flour, sugar, yeast, and salt by hand.
In a small saucepan, heat ¼ cup (60 grams) water, butter, milk, and vanilla over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm butter mixture to flour mixture. Using the paddle attachment, beat at medium-low speed until combined. Add 1 egg (50 grams), and beat until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 1½ cups (188 grams) flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft, somewhat sticky dough forms, 5 to 7 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining 2 tablespoons (16 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Turn out dough onto a very lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
Turn out dough onto a very lightly floured surface, and gently press into an 8×6-inch rectangle. Loosely wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Spray an 8½×4½-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 13×10-inch rectangle (about ¼ inch thick). Using a small offset spatula, spread Chai Filling on dough, leaving a ½-inch border on both short sides and one long side. Starting with opposite long side, roll up dough, jelly roll style, and pinch seam to seal. Gently lift log at each end, and stretch to 14 inches long. Place seam side down, making sure seam is off to one side instead of in center. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut in half lengthwise. Turn halves cut side up, and place in an “X.” Twist top half of “X” two times; pinch ends, and tuck under. Repeat with bottom half of “X.” Using your hands, place in prepared pan, making sure to keep cut sides up and ends tucked. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. (See Note.) Test dough for fermentation using the finger dent test. (See PRO TIP.)
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 egg (50 grams) and remaining 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash on top of dough. Sprinkle with half of Chai Streusel.
Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining Chai Streusel, and bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 20 to 25 minutes more, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Final rise time will depend on how long the dough is chilled. The longer the dough is chilled, the longer it will take to rise.PRO TIP: Once you think your dough has proofed, conduct the finger dent test. Gently press your finger about ½ inch into the surface. You should be able to watch the dough spring back slightly but still show an indentation. If the dent disappears, the dough is underproofed and needs more time. If the indentation stays completely, it has overproofed, but don’t panic. Immediately pop it into the oven; the babka will still be great.
3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
⅓ cup (73 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons (4 grams) Chai Spice Mix (recipe on page 25)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Using a silicone spatula, press and stir together until well combined.
5 tablespoons (40 grams) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons (16 grams) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon Chai Spice Mix (recipe on page 25)
1½ tablespoons (21 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, and Chai Spice Mix. Using your fingers, cut in cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate until ready to use.
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