Every once in a while you need to change things up. Chocolate seems to be the usual filling for babka these days, but instead, let’s take time to appreciate the wonderful sweetness of apricot and marzipan together. Baking this in a skillet instead of in the traditional loaf pan creates a beautiful, wreath-like effect that will wow during the holidays!
- 2¼ tsp (7 g) dry yeast
- 1 tbsp (12 g) sugar
- ½ cup (120 ml) milk, warmed
- 6 tbsp (90 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2–2¼ cups (240–280 g) flour
- ½ cup (160 g) apricot preserves, gently warmed to make it soft to spread
- ¼ cup (65 g) almond paste (marzipan), flaked
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- ½ cup (120 ml) water
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, gently mix together the yeast, sugar and warm milk. Let the yeast proof for at least 5 minutes, until the yeast becomes foamy on top and activates. Stir in the butter, egg and salt. With the mixer outfitted with a hook attachment, slowly add 2 cups (240 g) of the flour until it is all incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium, and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, return the mixer to low speed and add the remaining ¼ cup (30 g) of flour 1 tablespoon (8 g) at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides. It should still be stuck to the bottom of the mixing bowl. That is okay.
- If time is on your side, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight to slow the rising process and “age” the dough. This will develop a more complex flavor. If you are unable to do that, cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for at least 1 hour on your countertop. Once it has doubled in size, you are ready for the next step.
- On a lightly floured countertop or surface, turn out the dough and roll it into a rectangle, about 12 × 18 inches (30 × 45 cm). If the dough is difficult to roll, let it rest a few minutes. Spread the apricot preserves over the dough. Using a fork, gently flake the almond paste over the top of the apricot jam.
- Using both hands, roll the long edge of the dough tightly around to create a log. Pinch the seams of the dough closed. With a sharp knife, slice the dough lengthwise in half so you can see the inside.
- To form the dough wreath, overlap the two strips of dough to create a twist, working your way down the dough until you reach the other end. Bring the two ends together and gently pinch them together to form a wreath. Transfer the wreath to the nonstick-sprayed or parchment-lined skillet and allow it to rise for an additional hour before baking.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C), and bake the babka for approximately 30 minutes. While the babka is baking, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil. When the mixture has boiled and the sugar is dissolved, set it aside and brush it over the babka when it comes out of the oven. Allow the babka to cool completely before serving.
NOTE: Use other jams in lieu of apricot to see what your favorite combination is!