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Colombian-Inspired Babka Recipe

May 11, 2022 | by Emily Paster

Filled with either cream cheese and guava paste or dulce de leche and coconut.

Inspired by my discovery of Jewish cuisine of Colombia through Encanto, I developed this recipe for a Colombian flavored babka.

The first filling combines guava paste and sweetened cream cheese for a tropical take on the classic Ashkenazi yeasted loaf. The second filling uses dulce de leche, the milk-based caramel found throughout Latin America - known as arequipe in Colombia - and shredded coconut. I argue that these babka fillings are as good as chocolate - if not better! Perhaps even Abuela Alma would approve.

Did you know that the first major mistake humanity made had to do with food? It’s fascinating how much good and bad can come through eating.  Get more Jewish food thoughts here. 

 

Makes two loaves

Dough:

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 packet (1/4 oz) fast-rising yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk heated to 120°F
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Guava Filing:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 11 ounces can guava paste

Dulce de Leche Filling:

  • 1 (13.4 oz) can dulce de leche
  • 3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Instructions:

  1. Place the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the warm milk and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides as necessary. With the motor running, add the butter one tablespoon at a time until it is fully incorporated. (This may take a few minutes. Be patient.)
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead, periodically scraping down the sides and turning up the dough at the bottom of the bowl. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 40 minutes to one hour. (Alternatively, allow the dough to rise for at least six hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.)
  5. While the dough is rising, grease and flour two 9x5 loaf pans and prepare the guava and cream cheese filling. Place the softened cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl and beat with a handheld mixer until smooth. Slice the guava paste into thin slices. Set aside.
  6. When the dough has risen, divide it in half. Wrap the half that you are not using in plastic and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Make the dulce de leche babka: place one dough half on a lightly floured board and roll out to a rectangle of approximately 15x11 inches. Leaving a 1-inch border on all sides, use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of dulce de leche over the dough. (You may not need the entire can.) Sprinkle the shredded coconut over the dulce de leche.
  8. Starting with the long end, roll the dough into a tight jellyroll and pinch the ends closed. Trim off the ends. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll down the middle lengthwise exposing the filling. Turn the two halves on their backs so that the cut side is facing up. Pinch the two ends together and lift the right half over the left half. Then lift the left half over the right half. Repeat with the remaining dough to form a twist. Carefully transfer the twisted dough to one of the greased loaf pans.
  9. Make the guava and cheese babka: place the remaining dough half on the board and roll out to a rectangle of approximately 15x11 inches. Leaving a 1-inch border on all sides, use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture over the dough. Arrange the slices of guava paste on top of the cream cheese.
  10. Starting with the long end, roll the dough into a tight jellyroll and pinch the ends closed. Trim off the ends. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll down the middle lengthwise exposing the filling. Turn the two halves on their backs so that the cut side is facing up. Pinch the two ends together and lift the right half over the left half. Then lift the left half over the right half. Repeat with the remaining dough to form a twist. Carefully transfer the twisted dough to the second greased loaf pan.
  11. Cover the loaves with a clean tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until increased in size by 10 to 20%, 40 minutes to one hour. Preheat the oven to 350.
  12. Once the loaves have risen for the second time, bake them in the oven for 45 to 55 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (If the top begins to brown excessively, cover with foil.)
  13. While the loaves are baking, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool.
  14. Once the loaves are baked, remove them to a cooling rack. While the loaves are still warm, brush the syrup over the tops and sides. (If syrup begins to pool on top, wait five minutes for it to absorb and then add the remaining syrup.)
  15. Allow the loaves to cool completely before removing from the pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.




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