Apple Babka



For the dough:

  • 1 Tbsp dry active yeast
  • ⅓ cup + ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup whole or 2% milk (or almond milk)
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter (or margarine), melted
  • 2 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 6 gala apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups pitted dates, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey

For the topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  1. To make the dough: Place the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Add the lukewarm water and stir gently to mix. Set aside until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, ⅓ cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  2. In a medium saucepan, scald the milk (bring almost to a boil, until milk is just simmering). Allow to sit for 1 minute to cool slightly.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the water-yeast mixture, milk and melted butter. Add eggs one at a time.
  4. When the dough begins to come together, after 2 to 3 minutes, turn off mixer and scrape down the sides. Raise the speed to high and mix for another 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is shiny, elastic and smooth. It may seem like a long time to mix, but the result is worth the wait. (You can also knead vigorously by hand for 10 minutes if you don’t have a stand mixer.)
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl with a damp towel on top. Allow to rise 1 to 2 hours.
  6. To make the filling, place apples, dates, salt, cinnamon, water and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer on medium heat until the mixture is reduced. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer another 2-3 minutes. The mixture will cook around 10 to 15 minutes in total. Remove from the heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until smooth.
  7. To make the topping: combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined but there are still clumpy crumbs.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You can either grease three 8-inch loaf pans or make two round babka using 8-inch round cake tins (or just do it freeform on a parchment lined baking sheet).
  9. Divide dough into 2 or 3 even-sized pieces (depending on how many babka you are preparing).
  10. Roll out one part into a rectangle. Spread with even layer of apple-date filling or apple butter.
  11. Once the dough is formed into a swirled log, cut it straight down the middle so the filling is exposed. Cut ½ inch off each end. Layer each cut piece on top of one another and twist. Place in a greased loaf pan.
  12. Repeat with the other piece(s) of babka dough. Lightly drape a kitchen towel over the top of pans. Allow to rise another 30 minutes. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over babka.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, loosen sides of the babka from the pan and place on wire rack to cool.