I was going to do a whole month of cookies but this Fig and Cashew Babka is just too good not to share. I got the idea of this flavor combination from Worcester bakery BirchTree Bread Company. They’re this awesome restaurant that’s located in Crompton Place. If you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and go. There are so many cool shops there, it’s a perfect spot for some retail therapy.
Anyway, I digress…BirchTree has this amazing scone that was made with fig and cashews. It was so good that my son who’s a notoriously picky eater preceded to eat all of mine. But I don’t blame him, the sweetness from the figs was a perfect pairing with the cashews. In my recipe I use salted cashews because I can never get enough of a salty and sweet combination. I also decided that this flavor pairing would be awesome in a babka and holy crap I was so right. Even the first one that I made (that I burned) was really tasty. This is a perfect breakfast bread, really tasty with a nice cup of tea.
A word to the wise, these babkas are a two day affair, be sure to make these when you have time to be at home.
Fig and Cashew Babka
Makes 6 mini loaves
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup of sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup of water
4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons butter (soften but still cool)
10 ounces fig spread
8 ounces cashews
1 tablespoon water
For the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the sour cream, granulated sugar, eggs, water, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour mixture (do not stir in) and, using the dough hook, knead the mixture on low speed until the ingredients are evenly combined, about 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough becomes smooth, about 8 minutes longer, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. (The dough will be very wet.)
With the mixer running on medium-low, slowly add the butter, 1 piece at a time, waiting about 15 seconds between additions. After the butter has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to knead the dough on medium-low until the dough forms a very soft ball, about 15 minutes longer, adding the remaining 1 cup (5 ounces) flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough is no longer wet and it clears the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. (You may not need all the flour; the dough should be very soft and sticky.)
Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 to 24 hours. (Because of the high butter content, the dough will rise only slightly.)
Turn the cold dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into an 18 by 24-inch rectangle, about 1/16-inch thick, with the long side facing you. Then microwave fig spread for about a minute, then spread over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border around the dough. Then sprinkled chopped cashews over the fig spread. Then taking the long edge and roll into a taut cylinder. Pinch the seam closed to secure.
Cut into 6 equal pieces. Then take a cut piece and cut that piece lengthwise, then take lengthwise cut pieces and twist around each other. Then take the twist and create circle tucking the ends in. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Place the twisted babka and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. (You will need to use two baking sheets, 3 babka on each.) Let dough rest for 1-2 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Make glaze. Whisk egg and water together with a fork to make an egg wash. Then using a pastry brush brush egg wash over babkas, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until they turn brown and internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. Be sure to turn baking sheet half through to ensure an even bake.
Let babkas cool completely and then enjoy.
*Recipe for dough modified from America’s Test Kitchen.