Oh, babka. You know someone likes you when they pass one of these your way. I said in an earlier post that I was not exactly filled with the holiday spirit, but baking for my friends is a nice kind of self-care that costs way less than going to therapy. They get something yummy, I get a smile, the world is a little nicer. Self-care achieved!

Don’t forget to count yourself as a recipient, by the way!

Babka Dough

2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk, room temp
1 tsp sugar
3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Banana Butter With Lots of Rum -find the recipe hereBanana Butter With Lots of Rum

1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafer-like cookies. You know the ones. This is entirely optional, but if you have said cookies, you should pound them into crumbs and add them in.

Crumb Topping
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, ice cold, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt

Rum Syrup

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum

Prepare a 9″ loaf pan by lightly coating the inside with melted butter.

For the dough:
Combine the yeast, milk, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and set aside. Allow the yeast to fully dissolve and foam up, about 10 minutes. Using a dough hook, gradually add the butter bit by bit, on medium speed. Add the egg, vanilla, and salt. Add the remaining flour and cinnamon and mix on medium-high speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with plastic wrap. (Remove the dough hook, too) Allow the dough to rise to about double, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, make the crumb topping:
Using a pastry cutter or two butter knives, cut the butter into the other ingredients until the butter pieces are very small. This mixture should be loose and sandy in texture. Store in the freezer until ready to use.

Remove the risen dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface. This dough is slightly sticky and somewhat difficult to roll, so gently spread/stretch/squash the dough into a 12″ x 20″ rectangle with your hands. You can flour your hands if you need to, but try to keep it minimal, as too much additional flour will make the dough tough.

Spread the banana filling evenly over the dough.

Thin, but potent

Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over the filling in an even layer (if using).

Starting at the bottom edge, begin to roll the dough tightly into one 20″ log.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough down the length of the log. Now twist the two pieces together into a long rope by crossing one piece over the other, always with the cut side up.
Scrunch the completed twist into the prepared loaf pan, still keeping the cut sides facing up. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the babka. Allow to rise for 40-50 minutes, or until the loaf has nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Bake the babka on the middle rack of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the babka is in the oven, prepare the syrup by placing the sugar and water in a small pot. Bring it up to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.

Once the babka is out of the oven, allow it to cool for 5 minutes before thoroughly dousing the top with the rum syrup.

Allow the babka to cool another 20 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.
This bread is wonderful warm, but please allow it to cool completely before attempting to slice it. Then eat it with reckless abandon.