Spiced Date Babka

Fall, layers, all the cinnamon-y spices: I am ready! This spiced date babka will make your house smell amazing, give you the perfect activity for a drizzly Sunday and you’ll end up with a lovely slice of warm, sweet bread with your afternoon tea. Let’s get baking.

Slice of spiced date babka

This recipe is a merge of three other recipes, which I also then adjusted a little. The original babka dough is by Bon Appetit, so is the filling and the soak is by Joshua Weissman. It has a lot of steps and is therefor a more decadent recipe, if you feel like making something easier/ quicker I recommend heading to the No Fuss section.

You’ll need (for 12 slices)

For the babka

  • 125mL milk (I used oat milk) at room temperature
  • 1 packet of dry yeast (7gr)
  • 50 gr of granulated sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch of salt
  • 260gr of flour + extra for dusting
  • 100gr softened unsalted butter
  • 20 gr of butter for greasing bowls and tins

For the filing

  • 180 gr of dates
  • 20mL neutral oil (I use a mild olive oil)
  • 2 tsp of gingerbread spice mix (cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, clove, ginger, cardamom)
  • 50gr of light brown sugar

For the soak

  • 50 gr of brown sugar
  • 50 mL of water

Dishes you’ll make

  • measuring jug
  • teaspoon
  • fork
  • Stand mixer + dough hook
  • Big bowl (make sure it fits in the frigde)
  • Bowl
  • Food processor
  • Loaf tin (12x 20 cm)
  • knife
  • sauce pan
  • pastry brush
Sliced spiced date babka

How to make it

The Dough

  1. Pour your milk in a 500mL measuring jug, add the yeast and 1/2 a tsp of your sugar. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. After 5 minutes, add your egg, the egg yolk and the sugar. Give a good whisk with a fork.
  3. Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook and add your flour and salt. Put it on low speed and add your milk- egg mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Add the butter and knead the dough for 8 minutes. In the meanwhile butter a large mixing bowl (note: this needs to go in the fridge later, so make sure it fits!)
  5. Dust your kitchen countertop with flour and tip out your dough. Give it a quick knead through. The dough is VERY sticky, so work fast to prevent ir from sticking too much to your hands/ the kitchen.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and put into the buttered bowl. Cover it with clingfilm and let it rise until doubled in size (about 1.5h). Then put it in the fridge for about 45 mins. We do this to make the rolling a tad bit easier.
  7. During the last 30min of the fridge rise you can start making the filling.

Date filling

  1. Remove the pits from your dates (if necessary) and soak them for 15 minutes in hot water.
  2. Drain the soaked dates and add them to a food processor together with the oil and the spice mix. Blitz until you have a smooth paste.

Twisting it all together

  • Butter a 12×20 cm loaf tin.
  • Dust your countertop with flour again. Remove the clingfilm, but don’t throw it out, we use it later. Tip the chilled dough onto the surface and roll it out to a 30cm x 50cm rectangle (long end on your side).
  • Spread the date filling on top and scatter over the brown sugar. Roll the dough into a log, starting on the long side.
  • Time to show those beautiful layers! Split the roll lenghtwise using a knife. Turn both strands on their “back” with the layers to the top. Pick up the bottom strand and lay it over the top strand, you are kind of braiding with 2 strands. Repeat until you have a beautifully twisted dough. (Get someone to help if the dough is getting too soft).
  • Put the braided dough into the buttered tin. We did this by rolling the braid on it’s side and (starting from the thin side) we made kind of a snail roll of it with the layers on the outside. We ended with the thicker, more beautiful side. Then put it in, with the beautiful side on top. If this doesn’t make sense, just DM me and I’ll make you a gorgeous drawing :D.
  • Cover with the clingfilm you used earlier and let it rise for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 170°C.
  • Bake the babka for 60 minutes. Check in regularly by peeking through the oven window. Is it getting too dark? Cover it with some aluminium foil and continue baking.

The soak

  1. While it is baking we are making the final addition: the soak. Add the brown sugar and water to a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Take from the heat and keep it ready.
  2. When the babka comes out of the oven, keep the babka in the tin and immediately brush over ALL of the soak. Just keep brushing, it will absorb everything. Then let the babka cool in the tin for 15 minutes, tip it out on a wire rack and let cool further.
Slicing spiced date babka

Every time I come across images of this spiced date babka, I really want to make it again. You can freeze it by the way, just slice it, and freeze them in ziplocks. Make sure that if your stack slices you add some baking paper inbetween to prevent sticking.

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