Sweet breakfast buns o’ mine! Babka is a well-loved and indulgent breakfast bread, but this version — studded with dried fruits such as strawberries, tart cherries and apricots — gives it a fresh spin.
Perfect with a morning cup of joe, pomegranate or mint tea, these babka buns are a lovely addition to a brunch anytime. The cardamom and anise keep it spicy and invigorating, and the individual size (made in a muffin tin) makes it perfect for an on-the-go breakfast. Be sure to leave enough time for rising — this is a rich dough and really needs the time.
Babka Buns with Dried Fruit and Cardamom
Prep time: 1 hour, plus 3 hours for rising
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 4 hours, 35 minutes
For the dough:
2 tablespoons (19 grams) dry active yeast
1 cup water, divided (1/4 cup around 90 F to 95 F; room temperature for the rest)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (220 grams) light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups (340 grams) bread flour
3 1/2 cups (455 grams) all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Filling No. 1:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, roasted preferred
3 teaspoons ground cardamom, roasted preferred
1/2 teaspoon ground anise
3/4 cup fig jam
zest and juice of one lemon
Filling No. 2:
1/3 cup ( 50 grams) dried strawberries, cut into rough 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup ( 50 grams) dried pitted tart cherries, cut into rough 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup (110 grams) dried apricots or peaches, pitted and cut into rough 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup (65 grams) dried raspberries (optional)
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
For the dough:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, 1/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar; mix at low speed until just blended. Let stand for about 5 to 7 minutes, until foamy.
2. Sift the flours and salt into a mixing bowl or onto a sheet of parchment paper and set aside.
3. Add the remaining water, the light brown sugar and the flour mixture; mix until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. It will not be a dough yet. Add the oil and vanilla bean paste; mix on low to medium-low to fully combine. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes to form a moist, dense dough.
4. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, place in a warm spot and let rise at room temperature for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
5. When the dough has risen, divide it into 12 portions.
For the fillings:
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and anise together; set aside.
2. Place the fig jam, lemon juice and lemon zest in another small mixing bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.
3. Combine dried fruits in a bowl. Set aside.
Finishing the babka buns:
1. Lightly flour a work surface.
2. Spray two muffin tins with with nonstick vegetable oil spray.
3. Place divided dough portions, one at a time, on the floured surface and pat into a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick (roughly 5 inches by 10 inches).
4. Spread each piece with 2 tablespoons of the fig jam mixture, 2 teaspoons of the sugar and spice mixture, and about 3 tablespoons of the dried fruit.
5. Roll up, jelly-roll style; it will look like a small filled snake. Twist at the center and fit into the prepared muffin tins, tucking it in, or smooshing it down, as necessary to make it fit.
6. Cover with a kitchen towel; repeat with the remaining dough pieces, allowing them to rest for 45 minutes (some will rest more than others because it takes time to prep them all, and that’s fine).
7. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
8. For the finish, make an egg wash by beating the egg lightly with the water in a small bowl.
9. With a pastry brush, brush the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and a pinch of the salt.
10. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until dark golden brown. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Main photo: Just out of the oven, these sweet bread bites are truly delicious. Credit: @TheWeiserKitchen