The Best Cinnamon Babka

This cinnamon babka has a rich, tender dough, swirled with a sweet cinnamon filling. It uses a beautiful brioche dough that’s buttery and tender and a dream to eat. This recipe makes two cinnamon babka loaves.

sliced cinnamon babka loaves,

Babka is a sweet bread that originated from Eastern European Jewish tradition. It uses a brioche dough. A chocolate babka recipe is a popular one, but a cinnamon version is even better in my opinion. (Despite Elaine from Seinfeld claiming the cinnamon version is the “lesser babka.”)

With its rich, tender dough swirled with a sweet cinnamon filling, a piece of cinnamon babka with a cup of coffee or tea is the perfect way to start or end your day.

Ingredients

Find the ingredient amounts for this cinnamon babka recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here is a rundown of the dough ingredients. 

  • All-purpose flour- one with a protein level of around 11%. This protein content is enough to develop the gluten but not too much that the bread is chewy.
  • Yeast – Either instant or active dry yeast. Instant yeast will rise faster than active dry yeast.  To test the viability of yeast before beginning, warm the milk (to around 95-104°F / 35-40°C) and mix in the yeast with one tablespoon of the sugar. Leave this yeast mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes first. If it becomes foamy, it’s good to go.
  • Milk. This can be whole milk or skim milk.
  • Large eggs. A large amount of egg in the dough makes it super tender. 
  • Granulated sugar.
  • Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Salt.
  • Butter – There is plenty of butter needed as it’s an enriched brioche dough. You can use salted or unsalted butter at room temperature.
  • Cinnamon and brown sugar – Along with more butter for the filling.
side view of babka slices.

Equipment

  • Stand mixer fitted with dough hook
  • Two 9×5 inch loaf pans 

Method

Add the warm milk, yeast, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If using active dry yeast, let this mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.

eggs and flour.

Add eggs, flour, vanilla, and salt to the milk mixture and mix on medium-low speed until it forms a thick dough.

hand putting butter cube in mixer.

Next, add in the room temperature butter, a few cubes at a time, and keep mixing to incorporate the butter.

mixed dough.

Turn the mixer to medium speed and keep mixing until the sticky dough strengthens and passes the windowpane test. It should pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.

babka dough in mixer.

Shape the dough into a ball on a lightly floured work surface, then place it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it proof in a warm place until doubled in size. 

Overnight fridge proof – The dough can rise further in the refrigerator for extra flavor before being shaped. This is an optional step. Let the dough rise at room temperature for an hour, then cover it tightly and place it in the refrigerator for 8-16 hours. The chilled dough will be stiff the next day, but it will loosen up when shaping it. 

Shaping

Grease and line two loaf pans with parchment paper

cinnamon filling.

Beat the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon into a creamy paste in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Deflate the dough and pull it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Weigh the dough on kitchen scales and cut it into two equal pieces.

spreading cinnamon sugar.

Take one piece and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle measuring around 11×14 inches (27×35 cm).

Dollop half the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the rectangle in little pieces. Use an offset spatula to spread it out, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border around all the sides.

roll of dough.

Roll it up, from the long side upwards, into a log, jelly roll style. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough piece and the remaining filling. 

the supposed lesser babka unbaked.

Once chilled, slice a log in half lengthwise with a sharp knife to expose the cinnamon filling.

braiding dough.

Take the top two ends and fold them over.

Lift the left half over the right half, then the right over the left, and repeat all the way down, exposing the cinnamon filling.

Cinnamon babka filling showing in dough.

When you reach the end, tuck the dough underneath to compact the loaf. Place the braid into a prepared loaf pan.

This twisted dough process gives the cinnamon babka its distinctive shape and swirled pattern.

the best cinnamon babka recipe unbaked in a loaf pan.

Repeat the process with the second half of the dough. Let the babkas undergo a second rise until they nearly double in size, around 1 1/2 hours. The rising time depends on room temperature.

Baking

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and place a rack in the middle. Bake the risen babkas for approximately 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are browning too much, loosely cover the tops with foil. 

While the babkas are baking, prepare the sugar syrup to glaze them. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat. 

syrup brushed on cinnamon babka.

Once the babkas are removed from the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup. 

Let them cool In their pans for 20 minutes, then remove them and let them cool further on a wire rack. Serve the babka at room temperature or slightly warm. 

sliced cinnamon babka side view.

Storing

Babka can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, it can be frozen in a freezer bag for future use. Leftover babka reheats well in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until warm. 

piece of cinnamon filled babka.

Related recipes

Did you like this cinnamon babka recipe? You might like these recipes too!

sliced babka.

The Best Cinnamon Babka

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

This cinnamon babka has a rich, tender dough, swirled with a sweet cinnamon filling.

Ingredients

  • 120g (½ cup) milk, lukewarm
  • 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast or active dried yeast
  • 50g (¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 500g (4 cups*) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 170g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

Cinnamon filling

  • 113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g (3/4 packed cup) soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Sugar syrup

  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 60g (1/4 cup) water

Instructions

  1. Add the warm milk, yeast, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If using active dry yeast, let this mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add eggs, flour, vanilla, and salt to the milk mixture and mix until it forms a thick dough.
  3. Next, add in the room temperature butter, a few cubes at a time, and keep mixing to incorporate the butter.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium speed and keep mixing until the sticky dough strengthens and passes the windowpane test. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl. For the best gluten development and babka crumb, mix for at least 15 minutes. The dough should feel very soft but strong.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball on a lightly floured work surface, then place it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it proof in a warm place until doubled in size. 
  6. Overnight fridge proof - The dough can rise further in the refrigerator for extra flavor before being shaped. This is an optional step. Let the dough rise at room temperature for an hour, then cover it tightly and place it in the refrigerator for 8-16 hours. The chilled dough will be stiff the next day, but it will loosen up when shaping it. 

Shaping

  1. Beat the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon into a creamy paste in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Grease and line two 9x5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Deflate the dough and pull it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Weigh the dough on kitchen scales and cut it into two equal pieces.
  3. Use a rolling pin to roll one piece into a rectangle measuring around 11x14 inches (27x35 cm).
  4. Dollop half the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the rectangle in little pieces. Use an offset spatula to spread it out, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border around all the sides. Roll it up, from the long side upwards, into a log, jelly roll style. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. This will make it easier to cut later. Repeat with the other dough piece and the remaining filling. 
  5. Once chilled, slice a log in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Take the top two ends and fold them over, lift the left half over the right half, then the right over the left, and repeat all the way down, exposing the cinnamon filling. When you reach the end, tuck the dough underneath to compact the loaf. Place the braid into a prepared loaf pan. This twisted dough process gives the cinnamon babka its distinctive shape and swirled pattern.
  6. Repeat the process with the second half of the dough. Let the babkas undergo a second rise until they nearly double in size. This can be between 1-3 hours. The rising time depends on room temperature.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and place a rack in the middle.
  2. Once risen, bake the risen babkas for approximately 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are browning too much, loosely cover the tops with foil. 
  3. While baking, prepare the sugar syrup to glaze them.
  4. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat. 
  5. After removing the babkas from the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup. 
  6. Let them cool In their pans for 20 minutes, then remove and cool them further on a wire rack. Serve the babka at room temperature or slightly warm. 

Notes

*The cup sizes given are US-sized cups. Note that these are smaller than metric cups. Fo best result, use a kitchen scale and grams.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 331Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 6g

This is an informational estimate only. I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist

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2 Comments

  1. Tô amando tudo. Não vejo a hora de meter a mão 🤭 na massa.Muito conteúdo bom 👍

  2. Absolutely the BEST babka recipe! Elaine from Seinfeld is SO wrong…cinnamon babka is so much better than chocolate! Lol Easy to follow recipe and excellent product. Give it a try!

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