An irresistible Lemon Streusel Twisted Babka perfect for any holiday celebration. Lemon curd and streusel are twisted into a luxurious, easy-to-make bread dough. Your family is going to love this fabulous, fun to make bread .
This recipe is from a great new book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, written by Zoe Francois and Jeff Herzberg. Zoe and Jeff are the authors of the groundbreaking book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
I’ve been baking from Artisan Bread in Five since 2009, so I was excited when their publisher offered to send me a copy of their new cookbook to review.
Their method is to create a moist no-knead dough that you can keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks for their original dough and 5 days for the new sweet doughs. So it’s easy to make breads at home that are just as good or better than the breads you buy at your favorite bakery.
Their new cookbook is filled with recipes for gorgeous yeasted treats made for celebrations and special occasions. We love lemon treats at our house, so I couldn’t resist baking the Lemon Streusel Twisted Babka first.
What is Babka
Babka is a dense bread that’s traditionally swirled with chocolate or cinnamon. According to The Nousher, Babka means “little grandmother” in Ukranian.
When you search Wikipedia for Babka, it links you to Easter bread with a long list of similar rich breads made in different countries around the world for celebrations.
Zoe and Jeff’s Babka recipe in Holiday and Celebration Bread was adapted from a Ukrainian recipe. The dough uses 16 egg yolks! Although you’ll get three babkas from one batch of dough.
The picture on the left above is before the dough has rested on the counter for 2 hours. The picture on the right above is after an overnight rest in the refrigerator.
It’s a sticky dough so keep your hands, and the rolling pin well floured. I like to roll the dough out on a silicone mat, but you can also roll out the dough on a well floured counter.
Once the dough is rolled out into a rectangle, you’ll spread the lemon curd on top of the dough. If you put dollops of the curd all around the dough, it’s easier to spread. Then you’ll sprinkle 3/4 of the streusel on top of the lemon curd before rolling it up into a log.
Since the dough is sticky, I use a bench scrapper to help roll the dough into a log. Just flour the bench scrapper and gentle loosen any spots that are sticking to the mat or counter.
Shaping the Babka
One of the nice things about the book is every recipe has a photo, many with great step by step photos that help explain how to shape the dough. The collage of pictures above is from the book.
Once you have the dough rolled into a log, you’ll cut the log in half lengthwise with a bench scrapper. Then turn the cut sides of each half face side up and carefully twist the halves together. Then shape the dough into an oval and place it in the prepared loaf pan.
Here’s another picture from the cookbook that shows the loaf after it has risen for 90 minutes sprinkled with the reserved 1/4 of the streusel topping.
Adding oats and nuts was optional, but I love almonds, so I added sliced almonds to my streusel.
I inadvertently skipped the direction to use parchment paper to line the loaf pan. I would definitely use parchment paper next time so it’s easier to remove from the pan.
Baking the Babka
Just when my bread was perfectly risen and ready to go in the oven, we had an unusual power outage. Luckily, my daughter only lives 10 minutes away. So I called her and asked her to preheat her oven and drove my pretty loaf over to my daughter’s house to bake.
The loaf has to bake for 45 minutes, so I was able to hold my brand new baby granddaughter while it was baking. So all in all it was a lucky break the power went out.
My daughter’s house smelled amazing while the babka was baking. And I couldn’t have been more pleased with how my babka turned out. Unfortunately for my daughter, I had to bring the bread back to my house without cutting it so I could take pictures. (I did take her some slices later.)
The directions say to bake the babka until it’s golden brown and well set. I baked it for the recommended 45 minutes even though my daughter wondered if we should take it out earlier because it browned up quickly. The recommended 45 minutes was perfect for us.
The lemon curd recipe makes more than you’ll need for 1 loaf of bread. My husband and I spread a little extra lemon curd on the bread while we were eating it.
We couldn’t have loved this bread more. It’s a beautiful bread and sort of like eating a sweet roll.
The lemon streusel twist babka was fun to make and came together easily because I made the bread over two days. The first day I made the dough, the lemon curd, and the streusel. The next day I shaped and baked the dough.
The recipe makes enough for 3 loaves of babka. I could have made 3 loaves of the Lemon Streusel Twisted Babka but since my husband and I enjoyed the lemon curd on the slices of bread, I decided to try two of the other versions of the babka in the cookbook.
There’s directions for making a Chocolate-Raisin Babka Bundt, a Twisted Bundt Babka, and a Coconut Chocolate Twist Babka. I switched things up and made a loaf of Chocolate-Craisin Babka and a Coconut Chocolate Twist Babka Bundt in my coffee cake pan.
Zoe and Jeff describe the Coconut Chocolate Twist Babka “like having a candy bar twisted into a loaf.” There’s sweetened condensed milk in the filling and it caramelizes while the bread bakes turning it into a sort of dulce de leche combined with coconut and chocolate. We loved this loaf even more than the lemon babka, which I didn’t think was possible.
However, this decadent bread really does need the parchment lining. It was a pain to get out of the pan once the filling started to cool. So be sure and line the pan with parchment and remove it from the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.
If you enjoy baking bread for special occasions, you’re going to love this new cookbook. Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day is filled with fun to make creative breads. I can’t wait to try more of the recipes. You can get a sneak peak of some of the recipes on Zoe Bakes.
- 3 cups lukewarm water (100° or below)
- 16 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
- 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup lemon curd
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used sliced almonds)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
- Mix the water, egg yolks, yeast, sugar, salt, and melted butter in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
- Mix in the flour without kneading, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle), a danish dough whisk, or a spoon. The mixture will be quite loose because of all the yolks.
- Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises for 2 hours.
- The dough will be loose, but will firm up when chilled. Don't try to use it without chilling for at least 3 hours. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.
- To bake: Generously grease a parchment lined 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 -inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a round ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- Roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 12 x 15 inches. As you roll out the dough, add flour as needed to prevent sticking. (I like to roll out the dough on a silicone mat.)
- Spread the lemon curd evenly over the dough. Sprinkle three-quarters of the streusel over the curd. Save some for the top.
- Starting with the long side of the dough, roll it up into a log. Pinch the seam closed. Stretch the log until it is about 2 inches thick. Cut the log in half, lengthwise. Twist the 2 long pieces together, with the cut side facing up. Form an oval with the ends together and place in the prepared pan.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.
- Sprinkle the loaf with the remaining streusel.
- Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and well set.
- Allow to cool on a rack completely before eating.
- Combine all the streusel ingredients in a bowl and mix until the butter is roughly incorporated. Don't overmix--you want a crumbly texture. Set aside.
- Whisk together the yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large metal bowl.
- Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water set up as a double boiler.
- Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the lemon curd begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter and continue to stir until it is completely melted and the curd thickens; it will be the consistency of smooth pudding.
- If there are any lumps, strain the curd into a container; then cover with plastic wrap.
- Set the container in the freezer until cool, and then refrigerate.
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