Apple stuffed challah is always a delight for Rosh Hashanah and the high holiday season. But apple stuffed babka is also a perfect sweet treat. In this recipe I combine apples, dates, balsamic vinegar, and spices for a filling. But if you want to eliminate one step, pick up some apple butter or even fig jam from the supermarket.
For the dough:
- 1 Tbsp dry active yeast
- ⅓ cup + ½ tsp sugar
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- 4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup whole or 2% milk (or almond milk)
- ¾ cup (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter (or margarine), melted
- 2 large eggs
For the filling:
- 6 gala apples, peeled and diced
- 2 cups pitted dates, chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup water
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp honey
For the topping:
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- To make the dough: Place the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Add the lukewarm water and stir gently to mix. Set aside until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, ⅓ cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
- In a medium saucepan, scald the milk (bring almost to a boil, until milk is just simmering). Allow to sit for 1 minute to cool slightly.
- With the mixer on low, add the water-yeast mixture, milk and melted butter. Add eggs one at a time.
- When the dough begins to come together, after 2 to 3 minutes, turn off mixer and scrape down the sides. Raise the speed to high and mix for another 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is shiny, elastic and smooth. It may seem like a long time to mix, but the result is worth the wait. (You can also knead vigorously by hand for 10 minutes if you don’t have a stand mixer.)
- Place dough in a greased bowl with a damp towel on top. Allow to rise 1 to 2 hours.
- To make the filling, place apples, dates, salt, cinnamon, water and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer on medium heat until the mixture is reduced. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer another 2-3 minutes. The mixture will cook around 10 to 15 minutes in total. Remove from the heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until smooth.
- To make the topping: combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined but there are still clumpy crumbs.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You can either grease three 8-inch loaf pans or make two round babka using 8-inch round cake tins (or just do it freeform on a parchment lined baking sheet).
- Divide dough into 2 or 3 even-sized pieces (depending on how many babka you are preparing).
- Roll out one part into a rectangle. Spread with even layer of apple-date filling or apple butter.
- Once the dough is formed into a swirled log, cut it straight down the middle so the filling is exposed. Cut ½ inch off each end. Layer each cut piece on top of one another and twist. Place in a greased loaf pan.
- Repeat with the other piece(s) of babka dough. Lightly drape a kitchen towel over the top of pans. Allow to rise another 30 minutes. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over babka.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, loosen sides of the babka from the pan and place on wire rack to cool.