Recently, I’ve been eyeing all of these beautiful Babkas on Pinterest, and it’s inspired me to create my own vegan version. Perfect for the winter season and the holidays, this Vegan Cranberry Babka with a Cardamom Cream Cheese Icing will be sure to impress all your family and friends.
First of all, what is a Babka? A babka is typically a sweet, twisted bread filled with lots of different flavors (usually chocolate or cinnamon). This braided bread originates from Jewish communities in Poland and Ukraine. They usually have an enriched yeasted dough with sugar and butter making them fluffy and rich.
Today I’ll show you step by step exactly how to make this beautiful vegan Babka!
activating the yeast
To start, you’ll want to activate your active dry yeast. Yeast needs to be activated in order to help the dough rise properly. To do this, you’ll need a warm liquid and some form of sugar.
First things first, you’ll mix together warm oat milk and white sugar until the sugar begins to dissolve. Next, you’ll add the active dry yeast and give the mixture a quick stir to combine. To activate the mixture you can set it aside for 10 minutes. The mixture should start to get foamy after a few minutes. If the mixture does not foam up, your yeast is probably not activated (from being too old, or your milk was too hot and killed it).
I find that I’m able to get the perfect temperature for milk by popping the cold milk, straight out of the fridge, in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Then I dap a bit on my inner wrist. If the milk is warm to the touch but not scalding, it should be good to go!
making the dough
Next, you’ll cream together more white sugar and vegan butter in a separate large bowl. To spice up the dough, you’ll add in cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.
In this recipe, I’m using Just Egg as my egg replacer. I find that it gives the dough a very rich texture. Alternatively, you could substitute Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer in this recipe. However, I have not tried this and cannot guarantee results. After creaming the butter and sugar together, you’ll stir in the egg replacer, plus the activated yeast and milk mixture.
When you add in the flour the mixture should come together into a dough ball. You’ll then need to knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to stretch the dough without it easily breaking.
shaping the vegan cranberry babka
Next is the fun part! You’ll roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. The dough should be about ⅛” to ¼” thick. To get all of the beautiful swirls on the inside, you’ll spread the cooled cranberry filling onto the dough, leaving a 1” border on all sides. Follow the cranberry mixture up by sprinkling on some cinnamon-sugar.
Similar to making cinnamon rolls, you’ll want to tightly roll the dough up lengthwise into a log. With a knife, cut the log down the middle and flip the two halves up so the filling is facing up (see the images below).
You’ll create your braid by laying one half on top of the other and twisting them together. After twisting the dough, transfer it to the lined loaf pan. Lastly, before baking make sure the dough rises! With a damp towel or cloth, cover the loaves and let them rise in a warm place until they are doubled in size (about 1 hour).
letting the dough rise
I did multiple tests of this Vegan Cranberry Babka, and I found that letting the dough rise only once, produced more defined swirls and a better texture. Basically, when the dough rose twice (once before rolling it out, and once after), it became very difficult to shape the babka and get the beautiful twisted shape.
And there you go! You’ll bake the the babka at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes (if using mini loaf pans like I did – see the instructions below for a 9×5″ pan). This Vegan Cranberry Babka is just about divine topped with the non-dairy cardamom cream cheese icing. This sweet bread is perfect for a holiday breakfast, brunch, or even tea-time.
If you’re looking for some more fun winter baking recipes, check out the links below!
- ¼ cup +2 tbsp oat milk, warm but not hot to the touch
- ⅓ cup granulated white sugar, divided in two
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp Just Egg
- 5 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter, plus additional for brushing on top before baking- room temperature, cut in cubes
- 2 cups fresh cranberries, cut in half
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract, or substitute almond extract
- 1/2 tbsp orange zest
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
Cream Cheese Glaze
- ½ cup vegan cream cheese, I prefer Trader Joe’s Brand
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, see notes section
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
Simple Syrup (optional)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp filtered water
To Make the Dough:
- In a small bowl mix together the warm oat milk and half of the white sugar until the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the active dry yeast and give the mixture a quick stir to combine. Set the yeast mixture aside for 10 minutes to activate. The mixture should start to get foamy after a few minutes. If the mixture does not foam up, your yeast is probably not activated (from being too old, or your milk was too hot and killed it).
- While the yeast is activating, make the cranberry filling. In a small saucepan, heat the fresh cranberries and brown sugar on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. The mixture should begin to bubble. Mash the cranberries up with a fork and simmer for 1 or 2 more minutes until it begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla extract and the orange zest. Set aside to cool.
- In a separate large bowl, cream together the remaining white sugar and the vegan butter. Add in the cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and Just Egg. Stir to combine. Add in the activated yeast and milk mixture.
- Add in the flour. Mix the dough together until all of the flour is incorporated and the mixture comes together into a dough ball.
- On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into two if you are using mini, 5”x3” loaf pans. If you are using a standard 9”x5” loaf pan, do not divide the dough.
- If using mini pans, knead each ball for about 10 minutes.
- If using a larger loaf pan, knead the ball for about 15-20 minutes. The dough will be ready when it is smooth and elastic. You should be able to stretch the dough without it easily breaking.
- Line your loaf pans with parchment paper.
Shape the Babka
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. The dough should be about ⅛” to ¼” thick.
- Spread the cooled cranberry filling onto the dough, leaving a 1” border on all sides. Sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise into a log. Cut the log down the middle and flip the two halves up so the filling is facing up.
- Create your braid by laying one half on top of the other and twisting them together.
- Transfer the braided dough into the lined loaf pan. Cover the loaves with a damp towel or cloth, and let them rise in a warm place until they are doubled in size (about 1- 1 1/2 hour).
Bake the Babka
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Brush the tops of the loaves with softened vegan butter.
- Bake the mini loaves (5” x 3”) at 350 for 40 minutes. If using a 9”x5” pan, bake for 55 minutes at 350. Begin checking the loaves after 30 minutes. If the tops appear to be browning too much, cover them with aluminum foil until they finish baking.
- While the loaves bake, prepare the simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small pan over medium-low heat. (You can even use the same pan that you used for the cranberry filling). Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Cream Cheese Icing
- To make the cream cheese icing, mix together the vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cardamom until smooth. The mixture should be a pourable consistency.
- When the loaves come out of the oven, immediately brush them with the simple syrup mixture. Let the loaves cool for 5 minutes in their pans, and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Let the babka cool completely before drizzling the cream cheese icing on top.
- For the cream cheese glaze: some vegan cream cheeses are more watery than others. When making the glaze, start by adding 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and add a little bit more at a time until the mixture is a thick but pourable consistency.
- This babka is best served fresh but can be stored at room temperature (wrapped tightly) for 1-2 days. It can also be stored in the fridge for 5 days.
- This babka also freezes very well. Make sure to tightly wrap the bread to prevent freezer burn.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 slices Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 237Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 0gSugar: 49gProtein: 1g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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