A spring twist, this lemon almond poppyseed babka is perfect with coffee or tea, or for holiday celebrations!
I love lemon in spring desserts, it just feels so fresh after a winter of cozy spiced baked treats with warm spices. Lemon just livens everything up with it’s bright and cheery notes. In lieu of the traditional twisted babka bread, I wanted to change it up with a spring forward version in this lemon almond poppyseed babka.
The poppyseed filling makes the most gorgeous stripes in this bread, and the extra lemon and almond flavor really work well in this super soft enriched dough.
Bread baking makes me so happy. I’m not sure if it’s because of the time it takes, or the end result. I love the methodology behind it, and waiting for something delicious to come out of my patience and hard work. Mostly my patience. Bread doesn’t have to be intimidating, and while this lemon almond poppyseed babka looks so impressive, it’s really quite simple!
Think of this bread like a reverse cinnamon roll. Instead of rolling the filling up and making 12 rolls out of it, you roll it up, slice it down the middle of the dough lengthwise to lay open the interior, and then twist it!
Simple! And so stunning once it’s baked!
If you’re new to bread baking, don’t let this recipe for lemon almond poppyseed babka pass you by, it will be a new favorite!
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Lemon Almond Poppyseed Babka
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Instant (Rapid-Rise) Yeast
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Whole Milk, room temperature
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 2 Egg Yolks, reserve egg whites *optional – see notes*
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1/3 cup canned Poppyseed Cake/Pastry Filling
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest, 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla
- 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
- Pinch of Salt
Topping Glaze (optional, but traditional)
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1/4 cup Sugar
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, whisk together flour, yeast, and salt. In a liquid measuring glass, measure out milk, add in the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest. Whisk the mixture until it is smooth. With the mixer on medium-low, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the flour in the mixing bowl. Mix on low until nearly all the flour is incorporated.
When the flour is incorporated, add in the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, waiting until it is worked into the dough before adding the next tablespoon. Once the butter is worked in, turn the mixer on to medium speed and allow the dough to knead for 7 to 8 minutes. The dough should start to come away from the sides of the bowl. If it is still sticking, add in a tablespoon of flour at a time, until the dough is clear of the sides (it still might stick to the bottom of the mixing bowl – that’s okay).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until a smooth dough ball is formed. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 60-90 minutes, until it is nearly doubled in size.
Once the dough has completed its first proof, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a 18 by 12 inch rectangle. In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, or in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the poppyseed filling, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, almond extract and pinch of salt until it is evenly mixed. With an offset spatula, spread the filling over the whole dough, leaving a 3/4″ strip clear at the bottom edge to allow it to be pinched after the dough is rolled.
Starting at the far end, roll the dough tightly into a log, and pinch the end of the dough into the roll at the end. Roll the dough so the seam is at the bottom. Using a very sharp long knife (like a carving knife), use long strokes to slice the dough roll down the middle lengthwise to create two long slices, with the inside facing upwards.
To create the twist, focus on keeping the sliced filling side facing upward. Starting in the MIDDLE and working your way to one end, gently fold one strand over the other and pinch the ends together. Repeat folding the other side from the middle to the end, with the interior facing upwards. Pinch the ends together.
Gently lift the dough into a greased and parchment lined loaf pan, tucking the ends in to the pan. Cover the dough with a non-stick sprayed sheet of plastic wrap, and place into a warm place to rise again for about 1 hour to 90 minutes.
*Note* While the second rise is going, you can also create the simple syrup glaze if you would like. In a microwave cup, mix together the water and the sugar. Microwave until the mixture boils (time depends of wattage of the microwave, so keep an eye on it.) Set aside, and allow the mixture to cool.
*Note* If you like a crispy topping on your babka, you can use the egg whites to brush over the top of the dough before it bakes. If not, you can omit this part.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes, checking after 40 minutes. An instant read thermometer comes in VERY handy here, and the interior temperature should be between 195 and 200 degrees.
If you created a simple syrup for the top, brush it on after the bread comes out of the oven.
Allow the bread to rest in the pan on a wire cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before removing. And cool for at least two additional hours before slicing.
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