RECIPE ALERT: Cinnamon Raisin Nut Babka

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babkaAfter a long cold winter, spring is finally in the air and what better way to celebrate then with seasonal baked goods! In honor of Spring and the holiday season we baked Cinnamon Raisin Nut Babka, a sweet yeast cake that is indigenous to Eastern Europe. This light and fluffy cake is a wonderful sweet treat to complement your holiday spread.

Cinnamon Raison Nut Babka

Makes two 9 inch cakes

Ingredients for Babka:

1 ½ cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup shortening
5 ½ cups bread flour

Combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Let stand ten minutes. Add the salt, sugar and shortening (reserve 1 tablespoon to grease a second bowl later) to the liquid and ferment 10 minutes. Sift the flour and add to the liquid. Mix 10 minutes at low speed on a mixer with a dough hook. Dust the bowl with flour as you are mixing so the dough does not stick to the sides. If you do not have a mixer kneed by hand for 15 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl with shortening. Cover with plastic wrap and let the cake rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Filling:

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
Juice of lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 eggs

Finish:

Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

 Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the almonds and walnuts on a sheet pan for 5 minutes. Re-hydrate the raisins about 5 minutes in just enough hot water to cover them. Squeeze out all the excess water. In a mixing bowl, combine the nuts, raisins, lemon peel and the orange peel. Then add the lemon and orange juice, breadcrumbs and eggs to the mixture. Mix until well blended.

To assemble, turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide in half. Roll the dough into 2 rectangular pieces, each 20 inches long and 10 inches wide. Spread the filling evenly over each piece of dough. Lift the edge farthest from you and roll toward yourself. Just before you are finished completing each roll, brush the end with egg wash and finish the roll, creating a seal at the seam. Cover the remaining egg wash and store in the refrigerator to be used later.

Using two 9 inch springform tube pans sprayed with nonstick coating, place each roll in a pan with the seam side down, pressing the ends of the rolls together to seal. Brush the top of the dough with butter. Cover the babkas with plastic wrap and let the dough rise 1 hour or until double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake each babka 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Release spring form, lift out the cakes and slide the bottom of the pan off. Let cool another 20 minutes. Slice the babka and dust with powdered sugar and remaining cinnamon. Serve slightly warm.

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