I can not claim this is a babka recipe, as it is not traditional in any way, nor is it part of my traditions. So let's say Babka-inspired :) This simple dough is supple and sweet and the finished, twisty loaf is a show stopper on any brunch table. This dough rises extremely slowly, even in a steam oven. Don't panic if it takes three hours to double, it will still produce a delicious, soft loaf. Be patient!
Also, this dough works for any sweet filling! So far I've had cinnamon and brown sugar, dark chocolate Saskatoon berry ganache, and toasted almond, white chocolate, and chocolate chip.
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 cup as needed for kneading
1 tsp salt
1 250ml can sweetened condensed coconut milk
3 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup tepid water
2 tsp granulated sugar
For the dark chocolate Saskatoon berry ganache, I poured 1/2 cup heated saskatoon berry syrup over 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and stirred until the ganache was silky and glossy.
For the cinnamon/sugar, I combined 1/2 cup brown sugar with 3 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Combine with 1/2 cup softened butter.
Grease your loaf pan liberally and set aside.
Bloom your yeast by dissolving it in the warm/tepid water and granulated sugar. Set aside until it becomes foamy (about ten minutes)
Add flour and salt to the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the entire contents of the can of sweetened condensed coconut milk, along with your yeast/water/sugar mixture and combine using the paddle attachment until the dough begins to form. Switch to your dough hook.
Knead with your dough hook or by hand until the dough forms a supple, glossy ball that comes clean from the sides of your bowl, and springs back when you press your finger into it. Ten minutes should do it. If you are finding the dough overly sticky or wet, you can start adding your additional flour slowly until the dough feels ready.
Oil the sides of your bowl and the top of the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set to rise until the dough is doubled in size. This could take several hours, as this is a super slow rising dough.
When the dough is doubled in size, turn out onto a greased countertop. Roll into a rectangle, similar to a cinnamon roll.
Spread your filling evenly over the surface of the dough, covering from end to end.
Starting with the long edge closest to you, begin rolling your filled dough into a log. Make sure it is seam side down before you do the next step.
Slice the log LENGTHWISE. You're not making cinnamon bun here. This cut will reveal all those gorgeous layers and allow you to begin your twists. Keep the sides relatively close to each other to reduce the amount of times you need to move your dough.
Twist each side of your log individually, gently. Next, twist the two twists together lengthwise. When the twist is complete, CAREFULLY, move the braid from the counter to your prepared loaf pan. You don't have to be too fussy here, it looks amazing no matter how crazy you get. Cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise.
All the braid to rise until it is about doubled in size. This may take two hours.
When the dough is risen for the second time, preheat the oven to 350F.
Gently brush the top of your loaf with melted coconut oil.
Bake approximately 45 minutes. If the top is browning too quickly, simply cover with foil.
Allow the babka to rest in the pan for a few minutes before you attempt to remove it. Be careful when removing it, as the layers can sometimes loosen when you are moving the bread.
Slice thick and immediately slather with butter. Stuff your face.