Cherry cream cheese babka! Have you ever thought about experimenting with something? And it was so interesting creatively that you felt that you couldn't rest until you tried it? Well, this is that. I have a running list in my phone full of recipe ideas. Sometimes I'm out and about and I think about a recipe. To remember it, I jot them down to try at a later date. When I thought about this flavor of a cherry cream cheese babka, I was so excited to try it. Because I have a lot of projects going on right now, it took some time to perfect this recipe. Maybe 2 weeks.
I was super invigorated after being outdoors and enjoying being outside without too much worry. So when I got back to the house, I was so excited to give this a try. I combined milk and active dry yeast and waited for it to get all foamy and then added it to flour and sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla extract - you know, the basics. Then set the dough outside on the balcony. My house is always cold. It was so humid outside and I didn't want to have to wait forever for the dough to rise.
Mmm, I waited an hour and checked on the dough and nothing happened. I was pretty perplexed because this has never happened to me before. I automatically assumed the dough was simply taking longer than usual and waited another half hour - still nothing. At this point, I decided to bring it indoors. Then I set it in a warm oven with the oven light on - still nothing.
So I attributed this to a fluke. I started again, at this point it was around 11:30pm, but I was determined. I checked on the dough at 1am - still flat, no yeast activity. So I trash both sets of dough and go to bed. For my third attempt, I bought new yeast and decided that maybe something was wrong with it. Still nothing. At this point, I'm questioning my sanity and if I kept forgetting a step every single time. So, for my fourth attempt I used both a different yeast and a different flour.
I very slowly and deliberately assembled all of the ingredients and results was SUPERB. I made the most beautiful brioche-like dough and truly felt that I redeemed myself. It still perplexes me to this day as to what happened, but mercury was in retrograde at the time and perhaps the baking gods just weren't on my side.
I will state that even throughout all of my baking attempts to perfect this recipe, there's nothing particularly difficult about it if you have patience. Also, if you're kind to the dough. I feel like these are important when baking, specifically bread. Bread can be so fickle and finnicky and honestly, no matter how many times you make bread (any kind of bread), your results are always different. I'm okay with this because I love baking but wow, this recipe sent me for a ride. A fun ride but a hell of a ride nonetheless.
As you can see, I hold this near and dear to my heart because I frequently make recipes where it can take multiple attempts to perfect, but seldom do I ever make a recipe that just completely "fails" like such. It is so true when people say baking is a science because truly it is. I say all of this to say, if you make this recipe, it is a labor of love but it is so worth it. The cherries and the cinnamon and cream cheese with the most beautiful flaky crumb really make all of the steps worth it.
For a savory babka, try this Cheese Babka!
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Timeline that may be helpful:
-30 minute initial prep
-First rise - 1-2 hours
-Bring to room temp - 1 hour
-Roll out, fill, roll up, braid 20-30 minutes
-Refrigerate 30 minutes
-2nd rise - 1 1/2 hours
-Bake 40-50 minutes
Note: Directions say to remove dough from refrig an hour prior to baking, but there is over 2 hours of additional time needed after taking from the fridge and the dough ready for baking. Loved the results though
Thanks for your feedback!
Made this recipe for Easter this past weekend. Everyone loved the bread. Some suggestions on directions: Total time is not 1 hr 10 minutes. Initial 30 minute prep time is correct, but the dough needs to rise for 1-2 hours, then refrigerated overnight. It then needs an hour or so after taking it out of the refrigerator to come to room temp. Before baking it needs another hour to hour and a half to rise again before baking. I found the typical 9 inch loaf pans that I had were too small, so I cut off about two inches from one of the ends of each of the two loaves (this makes two loaves) and baked it in a separate pan. Directions weren’t clear if the 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese was for just one of the two loaves or was to be split between the two. I used Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves instead of the dark cherries and did not make the glaze as we didn’t want the extra sweetness it would add. Watching the video on how to braid the cut halves was very helpful. Will definitely make this again.
Hi Britney, I really want to attempt this. Can you possibly provide a pic or diagram of these steps:
Roll dough into a long log and add to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut dough in half, lengthwise and lay one half of the dough on top of the other, making an "X" and twist downward. Pinch the ends on both sides. If a bit of the filling comes out, it's normal.
I'm kinda confused!
Thanks so much!
Hi Stefanie! Here's a youtube video that will help! Let me know if you need further assistance! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3DOmlRhNZ0