The flavour of your favourite Easter Bun twisted into a beautiful Babka loaf. This twist on an Easter classic is certainly one to try this year; The Hot Cross Babka
The babka strikes again and this one is definitely a crowd pleaser, taking the nations favourite Easter bun and turning into a beautiful babka loaf. It’s not an Easter only bake either as you can easily remove the cross and enjoy it as a spiced orange babka instead.
What makes this recipe great?
Intense flavour | Unlike traditional Hot Cross Buns where the spices and currants are enriched into the dough, with a babka it’s twisted through the dough which I find personally makes the flavours more intense and delicious.
Learn a new skill | If you’ve not made a babka before then this recipe is a great place to start. It’s by far my absolute favourite bread to bake as you can make it sweet or savoury. I’m not known for my savoury flavours but I really do lovely a savoury babka so I think I might share one with you all soon.
It’s a crowd pleaser | Theres no denying that the babka twist is like artwork, and slicing this open in front of a crowd is an easy way to get lots of oohs and ahhs.
How to twist your Hot Cross Babka?
The babka twist is probably the most intimating part of the bake, but it’s really so easy and once you’ve twisted your first babka you’ll be desperate to try out more. Follow my step by step instructions below with images to guide you through the process but don’t forget to check the recipe card too for the full method.
- Add the filling and roll. Once the dough has been rolled out to size, sprinkle over the spiced sugar, currants, sultanas and mixed peel. Then starting from the shortest end roll the dough as tightly as you can. Wrap it up in baking paper and leave to chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
MY KITCHEN TIP: Chilling the dough before cutting it firms the dough up to make cutting it much easier and less messy.
2. Cut the roll in half lengthways. Once the dough has chilled, unwrap it from the baking paper and cut it down the middle lengthways to reveal stripes of your fillings.
3. Lift the right half over the left. To begin shaping the Babka, tack the two halves together at the top and then lift the right half over the left.
4. Then lift the left side over the right. Then continue wrapping each side over the other until you reach the bottom.
5. Tuck the ends underneath. Then carefully lift the shaped dough into a prepared loaf tin that has been greased and lined with baking paper.
Tools you will need
Your hands | The best thing about Babka, as with lots of breads, is that the most useful tool to use is your own hands. You can easily use a standing mixer with a dough attachment to get things going but using your hands is the best way to knead your bread so you can feel the gluten developing and avoid under or over kneading your dough. You’ll know a dough is well kneaded when it has a good stretch to it without breaking.
Large mixing bowl | One bowl is all you need as you can mix your dough and then prove it in the same bowl. Just make sure your bowl is well oiled before you add the dough again to prove it as this prevents the dough sticking to the sides.
Fine grater | When you’re grating your orange zest into the mixture, I’m a firm believer of the finer the better! I have a Microplane Zester Grater and I honestly cannot recommend them higher. It’s perfect for grating citrus, hard cheeses, ginger and garlic and its probably one of the most used tools in our kitchen drawer.
2lb loaf tin | A good sized loaf tin is a staple for any regular baker. I have several that I’ve collected over the years and they’re all 2lb loaf tins. You want a deep loaf tin for this bake as it gives the dough room to prove and bake without spilling over.
Baking paper | Needed to wrap up your dough once rolled and then again to line your loaf tin.
MY KITCHEN TIP: Don’t confuse baking paper with greaseproof paper. The two are not the same. Baking Paper is coated with a silicon lining which means it can withstand high temperature and remain non-stick meaning it’s ideal for baking with sticky ingredients like dough. Greaseproof paper is just what it says “grease proof” and is fine to use in baking but it will need to be greased as well to ensure it remains non-stick. Not greasing it could mean your bake ends up getting stuck and thats not fun for anyone.
How to store and freeze this Hot Cross Babka
Storing the Babka | If this Hot Cross Babka lasts longer than 24 hours then store it in an air tight container and it should last for a good 2-3 days. If you find any slices have gone a little stale then this is equally brilliant toasted with butter like a standard Hot Cross Bun.
Freezing the baked loaf | If you want to freeze the baked bun then I would suggest cutting it up into slices beforehand and then you can easily thaw as many slices as you need.
Freezing the dough | As this recipe bakes 2 loaves you might choose to freeze the dough to be used another time. The unbaked dough can be easily frozen by shaping it, wrapping it in cling film and then moving it into a freezer bag. It will store frozen for up to 3 months. To thaw it remove from the cling film and freezer bag and let it sit out at room temperature in a loaf tin loosely covered with a tea towel. Let it prove until risen about 1-2cm (this could take a few hours) then bake as instructed.
More Babka flavours for you to try
I would love it if you tagged me @mykitchendrawer on Instagram if you make this Hot Cross Babka. It’s the biggest honour to see my recipes come to life in your kitchen and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a message. Happy baking!
Hot Cross Babka
- 500 g strong white bread flour I use Cotswold Canadian Great White
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 240 ml hot water not scalding hot
- 1 tbsp salt
- 50 g caster sugar
- 120 ml canola oil or other neutral oil
- 2 eggs
- Zest of an orange
For the filling
- 150 g soft brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp all spice
- 50 g sultanas and currants
- 50 g mixed citrus peel
- 2 tbsp marmalade
For the dough
- Begin by whisking 130 g of the strong white bread flour with the yeast and stir in the hot water until combined. Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave for approx 45 minutes, until puffy and bubbly.
- Once it's ready, add the salt, sugar, oil, eggs and orange zest, then stir until well mixed.
- Add the remaining flour and fold through until a sticky dough forms. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead for just a few minutes, until it becomes smooth, then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it to prove for one to two hours (until it’s doubled in size). MY KITCHEN TIP: You can choose to prove overnight here. This process slows down the rise and enhances the flavour
For the filling
- Mix together the brown sugar, ground cinnamon and all spice in a bowl.
- When the dough has fully proved tip it out of the bowl and punch it down then split in half. Using a rolling pin, roll one half into a rectangle about 12-inches in width by 24-inches in length.
- Sprinkle the spiced sugar mixture over the the top, followed by the sultantas, currants and mixed citrus peel, then roll up the dough horizontally into a log. Wrap it in baking paper and transfer it to a baking sheet.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling then transfer loaves to fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Alternatively you can choose to freeze the remaining dough to be used another time (see blog post for information on freezing your dough)
- While it chills, grease and line a 2 lbs loaf tin with baking paper.
- Place one chilled log onto a large cutting board and remove baking paper. Cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other cut sides up so you can see all the filling lines on the inside.
- Lift one half over the other and twist each around the other, then transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf tin.
- Repeat with the other loaf and cover tins with a tea towel to prove again for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, then place the loaves in the oven an bake on the middle rack of your oven for 25 – 30 minutes.
- Remove the Babkas from oven and brush with maple syrup generously over both the buns whilst it's still warm. Leave for 15 minutes then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool slightly.
- Slice and serve while they're still warm.