Spiced Fruit Babka

This treat is ideal for the festive season. Over the past few months I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts from my foodie friends about babkas. A babka is a type of sweet brioche-style bread rolled up with a sweet filling. It originates from Jewish communities in Poland and the Ukraine. They particularly caught my eye due to the delicate marble effect of the bread and the filling when sliced. So I had a go at making my own using Nutella and then cinnamon sugar as the filling – they were delicious, and my family devoured them really quickly. I then thought about adding a Caribbean twist to the babka and came up with this recipe for Spiced Fruit Babka. It takes as the filling the key ingredients from the traditional Jamaican Black Cake: dried fruit soaked in rum, mixed spice and almond extract.

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Now, this recipe takes a little forward planning as the dried fruit has to be soaked in alcohol for at least two days in advance in order to get the correct flavour, but it is completely worth it. The result is a soft and airy, slightly sweet bread, enveloped around jam-like layers of moist spiced boozy fruit. Irresistible when freshly baked, and perfect for an afternoon tea on these cold days.


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Spiced Fruit Babka Recipe

Makes: 2 loaves
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Macerating Time: 2 days
Baking Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

for the bread:

  • 235 ml milk warmed (plus an additional 2 tbsp for egg wash)
  • 7 g fast action yeast
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 115 g unsalted butter cubed at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 530 g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp salted butter for spreading on the dough

for the filling:

  • 250 g dried fruits roughly chopped
  • 120 ml dark rum
  • 120 ml sweet sherry or port
  • 0.5 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Start by macerating the fruit. In a non-reactive bowl add the chopped fruit, rum and sherry and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave to macerate for 2 days.
  2. Prepare the bread. Add the milk to a mixing bowl and mix in the yeast, sugar, butter one egg and one egg yolk. The mixture will look lumpy but don’t worry about this.
  3. Mix in the flour in one quarter at a time until a dough is formed. Knead until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Ideally use a mixer with a dough hook, I would recommend the Kitchen Aid Hand Mixer, click here for more details.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl, place the dough back in the bowl and turn it over so that all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover the bowl with cling film and place a tea towel on top. Leave the dough to rise for around 2 hours.
  5. In the meantime, add the mixed spice, almond extract and vanilla extract to the macerated fruits and stir well. Blend the fruit for around 2-3 minutes until a smooth paste is formed. I used my Nutribullet for this – click here for more details.
  6. Grease two 2lb (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf tins using cooking oil. Divide the risen dough into two and reserve one half covered in a bowl for later. I would recommend the MasterClass 2lb Loaf Tin, you can click here for more details on this tin.
  7. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is around 22 cm x 33 cm (just a little bigger than a sheet of A4 paper).
  8. Use a knife or your fingers to spread the salted butter on the top surface of the rolled out dough – take care not to pierce or tear the surface. Spread half of the spiced fruit mixture on top.
  9. Roll the dough along the long edge to form a log. It will be a bit messy, but don’t worry. Ensure that the seam is at the bottom of the log and cut the log in half along it’s length.
  10. Twist the two halves of the log together then place this in the oiled loaf tin.
  11. Repeat steps 8 to 10 with the other half of the dough.
  12. Allow both loaves to rest for around 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven)
  13. Make the egg wash by mixing the remaining egg white with 2 tablespoons of milk. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash.
  14. Bake the loaves in the oven for 50-55 minutes until nicely browned.
  15. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing them from the tins.