White Chocolate Apricot Almond Babka

golden babka fresh from the oven

A few weeks back, after binging an entire season of the Great British Baking Show, I decided to try my hand at Babka. It looked amazing, but everyone seemed challenged with the time limit. As I researched recipes to create my own I realized quickly that this is not a “quick” bread. White chocolate and apricots is a combination I love, so it was a simple trip for my imagination, creating a recipe that celebrates both. I also like the addition of buttermilk in my scone batter, as evidenced in the numerous recipes I’ve included here for scones. I hope you enjoy this version of White Chocolate Apricot Almond Babka. It’s definitely a long process to make, not a quick afternoon. Unfortunately for me, I also chose to make Pastitsio (coming later this week) in the same weekend. Both came out incredibly well, but I’m just getting myself back on track with sharing the recipes based on all the notes I took that weekend!

golden babka fresh from the oven
The golden brown crust was perfect!

White Chocolate Apricot Almond Babka

Ingredients for dough:

  • 1/2 cup powdered buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup sugar (plus a pinch)
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 4 ½ cups flour (with more to assist in kneading)
  • 4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 stick plus 2 TB unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 1/2 TB fresh orange zest
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 8 oz chopped dried apricots
  • 8 oz white baking chocolate chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chopped sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup sugar

Make the dough:

  • Take a deep breath and read the instructions carefully. It’s easy to get lost!
  • In small bowl, place warm water, buttermilk powder, yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir lightly and allow to sit until foamy. 5 – 10 minutes
Mine foamed up quickly. Just be careful not to use water that is too hot.
  • In a large mixer bowl, fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, sugar, salt, vanilla and almond flavoring, and nutmeg
  • Add yeast mixture and the eggs, mixing until a dough is formed. You may need to add a bit more flour to achieve this. Mine was pretty sticky.
  • Add half the butter and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed. 3 – 5 minutes
  • Mix in the rest of the butter until dough is smooth and stretchy. 5 – 7 minutes. Give it time since the butter doesn’t initially want to mix in. You may need to add a bit more flour at this point to get a dough you can form a ball with.
  • Form the dough into a ball, and place in a large, greased bowl, rolling the dough until it is covered with grease on all sides.
  • Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm, draft-free space until rises, about 2 hours.
dough rising under cling film
it didn’t take long for this dough to rise.
  • Press down the dough, recover, and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight. (at least 4 hours, but longer is better)
Babkas browning in the oven
Eyes on the prize!!!

Make the filling:

Mix all ingredients for the filling together well, and set aside in a cool space so your chocolate doesn’t melt. I found Ghirardelli White Baking Chocolate in my baking aisle at the grocery store. If you can’t find that, chopped white chocolate chips will work as well.

Continue making the loaves:

  • Butter two loaf pans, then line with parchment paper in a criss cross pattern so they overlap the edges of the pan, and can be used to remove the bread once it is cooled.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into two halves.
  • On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 9” x 17” rectangle (or as near to that as you can get).
dough rolled into rectangle
Doesn’t need to be perfect, but should be able to hold its own without filling popping through when rolled.
  • Spread with half the filling, right up to the edge
  • Roll into a tight coil, along the long side. Then place on a baking sheet, covered, and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes, while you roll the second piece and prepare in the same way.
  • Once both have chilled, remove from the freezer and slice each coil in half lengthwise so filling is exposed.
  • Place halves across each other in the form of an X. Starting in the middle, twist each half around each other going towards the end, then do the same on the other side, until you have a full twisted loaf. Fold full twist in half so it is about 9” long, and place in greased loaf pan.
  • Repeat the process with the second piece of dough, splitting lengthwise, and wrapping the two sides together.
  • Cover both loaves lightly and let rise in a warm place for an additional 1 ½ hours until puffy (or cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise overnight in the refrigerator, but bring back to room temp before baking).
Risen babkas
They don’t look pretty at this point, but they taste amazing.
  • Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
  • Place loaves into the oven and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until a tester inserted comes out clean (except perhaps for a bit of melted chocolate.).
  • Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes, then lift out using the baking paper as a handle.
  • Wait until completely cool to slice!
Babkas look amazing as they bake and rise!

Some people like to drizzle honey syrup over babka, or create a streusel topping, but for me, these were perfect the way they were. Not too sweet, but so filled with flavor. They are definitely a weekend project, but if you can get the dough mixed and into the fridge for it’s overnight rise, you’ll have fresh babka in time for brunch the next day (if you get up early!). I hope you enjoy.

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