Dough Rolled Thin and Covered With Cranberry Orange Filling

Cranberry Orange Babka

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Cranberry Orange Babka
Cranberry Orange Babka

Babka is an enriched dough, meaning it is made with eggs, butter, and sugar. These added fats and sugar interfere with gluten development. Fat coats the flour particles, limiting their contact with water and, consequently, with each other. This makes it harder for the gluten network to develop. Sugar, meanwhile, competes with the flour for water, which also inhibits gluten development. Given these challenges, kneading is especially important, as it helps to evenly distribute the fats and sugar and aligns the gluten proteins. Kneading is essential to ensure that the dough is strong enough to hold its shape and the layers of filling. Kneading the very soft, hydrated dough you find in babka is a little difficult because it is so sticky. This is why I make this in my bread machine, turning an all day effort into a reasonable chore for a delicious treat.

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 gm) half and half, room temperature or slightly warmed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, optional; for enhanced flavor
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 cups (530 grams) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (50 gm) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon / 3 teaspoons (12 grams) instant yeast

Cranberry Orange Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (8-12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar to taste
  • Juice of 3 oranges (1/2 cup)
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • Zest of 3 oranges
  • 1-2 teaspoon cinnamon to taste
  • 1 cup dried cranberries/craisins


Add ingredients to bread machine in order as above. Use white bread cycle, ignore or turn off the addins beep. Set the machine on a 2 lb loaf and medium crust.

Cranberry Orange Filling
Cranberry Orange Filling

Make the cranberry-orange filling: In a sauce pot with heat set to medium, simmer cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and salt until cranberries POP and become soft. Continue cooking, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture is thick and a jelly consistency. Let cool completely.

Dough Rolled Thin and Covered With Cranberry Orange Filling
Dough Rolled Thin and Covered With Cranberry Orange Filling

When the audible signal before the last rise sounds, remove the dough, hit pause and transfer to a silicone mat. Roll out until the dough fills a large silicone mat or until the dough is thin as possible.

Spread the cranberry-orange mixture on the dough, sprinkle with dried cranberries/craisins and cinnamon. Roll-up starting with the short end. Remove the mixing paddle and place the dough back in the bread machine. The final rise will begin automatically 15 minutes after you pause the cycle and the bread will be cooked in the machine.

Alternatively, you can split the dough in half, plait each half as in my post on chocolate babka. Allow both pans to rise for 2 hours. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.

Let the babka cool completely before removing the bread machine pan. Place in a plastic storage bag and keep in the refrigerator for about a week.


Chocolate Babka: Travel to Eat

Cranberry Orange Babka: Red Star Yeast

Cranberry Orange Babka: Jamie Geller

Cranberry Orange Babka: Bunsen Burner Bakery

Orange Cranberry Babka: King Aurther