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I'm Jonathan Stiers (pronounced Styers). Join me as I share my adventures in food, design, entertaining and travel. I hope you enjoy and find some inspiration!

Nutella + Orange Babka

There's something so rewarding about making bread from scratch. I took a little vacation from the blog and decided I needed to get back at. And with the holidays upon us, bread making definitely gets me in the spirit! So that brings us to Babka. So what is it? Babka is a traditional eastern European bread. While traditionally served at Easter in some European countries, it's always quite popular during the Christmas holidays in others. Long story short, it's a sweet and tasty bread, Toppings and fillings can vary. I'm obsessed with Nutella and the combination with orange zest is almost more than I can handle. I tried 3 different recipes before landing on this one. It's fairly simple and the hardest part is waiting for the bread to rise in the refrigerator over night. After that, you're good to go! Serve this at breakfast for guests (with espresso of course), or on Thanksgiving & Christmas morning! Everyone will be happy you did!

Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves):

Dough

  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast (usually one packet)
  • Grated zest of half of an orange, plus extra for garnish
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold water and up to 1-2 tablespoons extra, if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (I usually set mine out for at least 2 hours)
  • 1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts for garnish
  • 1, 13oz jar of Nutella, divided

Glaze

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Once combined, add the eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with dough hook until ingredients come together. (If it doesn't come together, add extra water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a mass)
  3. With the mixer on low add the salt, then butter, one spoonful at a time, mixing until it's well incorporated.
  4. When butter is well incorporated, mix on medium speed (usually 2 on a KitchenAid) until dough is completely smooth. The dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the dough. You may need to use a flat spatula to scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl.
  5. Coat a large bowl with Canola Oil (Canola is great so it won't add flavor to your dough).
  6. Place the dough mass inside the oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. NOTE: Dough will not fully double in size.
  7. When dough is ready, coat two 9x4 loaf pans with oil and line bottoms with parchment paper.
  8. Split dough in half, leaving one half in refrigerator.
  9. Roll out one half of dough on a well-floured surface. You want to form a rectangle, about 9x12 in size (see above).
  10. Spread half of the 13oz. jar of Nutella evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border all the way around. (If the Nutella is too thick, you can place it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, to soften it up).
  11. Brush one long end with water (I used my finger), and roll longways like a jelly roll and seal.
  12. Transfer the roll to a lightly floured baking tray and place in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. This will make it MUCH easy to cut in half.
  13. Repeat process with second half of dough.
  14. Trim 1/2 inch off of each end of roll.
  15. Gently cut the roll in half using a sharp knife, lengthwise and lay them cut-side up (see above).
  16. Pinch and fold the top ends gently together and braid. Lifting one side over the next, try to keep the cut sides facing out. This will get a little messy but not to worry!
  17. Place each twisted loaf in to a loaf pan and cover with a damp towel, leaving to rise another 1 to 1-1/2 hours at room temperature. Repeat for second loaf.
  18. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  19. Remove towels and bake both loaves for approximately 30 minutes. If it browns to quickly, you can place foil over each loaf.
  20. While babkas are baking, make glaze by bringing sugar and water to a simmer, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  21. Once babka are done, brush each with glaze and generously cover each.
  22. Let cool halfway in pan then transfer to a cooling rack to cool before serving.
  23. Garnish with fresh orange zest and chopped hazelnuts (optional). Alternatively you can top with sea salt for that yummy salty-sweet combo!

All photography by Jonathan Stiers ©2015 | Recipe Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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