This vegan babka combines sweet, pillowy bread with delicious cinnamon swirls, finished with a crunchy streusel topping.
Babka is a sweet, braided bread that originated in Eastern European Jewish communities. Because babka dough - a type of enriched dough - traditionally contains eggs and/or dairy and therefore is not vegan, it's hard to find a store-bought vegan babka. Lucky for me (and you!), babka lends itself well to vegan ingredients and egg is not necessary to produce a flavorful, well-risen loaf. Although this vegan cinnamon babka recipe takes some time, most of it is hands-off, and I promise the results are worth it!
How to Make the Vegan Cinnamon Babka
Prepare the Dough
Gather your ingredients:
- Active dry yeast
- Granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Non-dairy milk
- Vanilla extract
- Vegan butter
- Brown sugar
Activate the yeast: Place the yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and gently stir. Wait for yeast to foam up.
Add the flour, salt, and remaining sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Using the dough hook, mix on low until a rough dough forms. Add the butter and continue mixing on low until it is fully incorporated. If the dough looks very wet, you can add more flour, one tablespoon at a time. Do not overdo it, though, or your dough will become too dry.
Continue kneading on low-medium for about 8 minutes, until the dough appears smooth and elastic. Remove the vegan babka dough from the stand mixer bowl and place it in a large lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and allow it to rise for about 1.5 hours.
Make the Filling and Shape the Dough
Place the risen dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling (cold dough is easier to roll out). Prepare the cinnamon filling.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the pan.
Gently punch down the dough and roll it out into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Distribute the filling evenly across the dough. Starting at the short edge, tightly roll the dough into a log. Use a sharp knife to cut it in half, so that the filling is exposed. Braid the two halves together and place them into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour.
Make the Crumb Topping and Syrup and Bake the Babka
Preheat the oven to 350°F. If making the optional crumb topping, prepare it by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle over the babka. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
Prepare the sugar syrup. Brush it onto the baked vegan babka as soon as it comes out of the oven. Allow the babka to rest in the pan for at least 30 minutes before removing it to cool fully on a wire rack. Enjoy!
Store the babka in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days. You can also freeze it (either whole or sliced) in a freezer bag for up to three months. Defrost at room temperature for 2-3 hours; if desired, warm briefly in the microwave or toaster oven before eating.
Make sure to measure your flour correctly. Flour settles as it sits, which means that if you simply scoop it into a measuring cup, you may end up with significantly more flour than intended. Instead, make sure you are measuring the flour as follows:
- Gently stir the flour with a spoon to get some air into it.
- Spoon it into the measuring cup. Do not pack it in or press down.
- Level it off with a knife, then add it to the mixing bowl.
Vegan Cinnamon Babka
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup water lukewarm
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar divided
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup vegan butter softened
- ⅓ cup vegan butter melted
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon non-dairy milk
- Pinch salt
Crumb Topping (optional)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegan buttter melted
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Place the yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Gently stir so that the sugar does not settle on the bottom of the bowl. Wait about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate (you should see the mixture foam up).
- Add the flour, salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture, along with the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract. Attach the dough hook and mix until a rough dough forms, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Add the butter and knead on low until it is fully incorporated into the dough; the dough will form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough looks very wet, you can add more flour, one tablespoon at a time (do not overdo it; your dough should remain soft and slightly tacky). Increase the speed of the mixer to low-medium and continue kneading until the dough appears smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and allow it to rise in a warm spot (between 70°-80°F) for about 1 ½ (or up to 2) hours, until well risen (the dough may not quite double in size; this is okay).
- Place the dough in the fridge while you prepare the filling. Place all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine fully. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing some to hang over the sides, and lightly grease the pan with oil.
- Gently punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle; the dough should be about ⅛” thick. Use a spatula to distribute the filling evenly across the dough.
- Starting at the short edge of the dough, begin to tightly roll the dough to create one long log. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise, so that the filling and layers are exposed.
- Turn both strands of the dough so that the filling side is facing upwards. Press the tops of the two strands together and then braid the strands. Carefully lift the babka into the loaf pan.
- Cover the pan with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour. The shaped babka should rise to just below the top of the loaf pan.
- As the dough finishes rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. If you are making the optional crumb topping, prepare that now by adding all of the ingredients to a bowl and stirring to combine. Use your fingers to evenly sprinkle the crumb topping over the babka. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown.
- Prepare the sugar syrup. Combine the sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat on the stovetop using medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves in the water. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, remove it from heat. Brush the syrup onto the baked babka as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Allow the babka to rest in the pan for at least 30 minutes, until mostly cool. Gently lift it out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- If you do not have a stand mixer, you can mix and knead the dough by hand. Start off by combining the ingredients with a wooden spoon, and when that becomes unwieldy, switch to using your hands.
- Make sure you are measuring the flour correctly. Gently stir the flour with a spoon to get some air into it. Spoon it into the measuring cup, then level off with a knife, before adding it to the mixing bowl.
- I prefer to make the babka in one day. If you need to prepare the dough in advance, however, you may refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. Cover the bowl with tightly-fitting plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. When you are ready to roll and fill the dough, let it warm up for 45-60 minutes before rolling it out and preparing the filling.