This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

A tasty project to fill the quiet hours

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer

I was stuck at home with a sick kid (again) and got bored while he was napping, so I decided to make something tasty and time consuming to fill the quiet hours.

This berry cream cheese babka can be made with any berries you have in your freezer — I happened to have a few honeyberries leftover from my massive summer haul last year that needed to be used up. The recipe isn’t exactly complicated, but for the fluffiest possible results you’ll need a lot of time, so save this one for a lazy day.

Berry Cream Cheese Babka

Ingredients:

For the dough

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 eggs

10 tablespoons unsalted butter — cubed, room temperature

For the fillings

3 cups frozen berries

1 cup sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

***

8 ounces full fat cream cheese — room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Start by making the berry filling. Combine the frozen berries, lemon zest and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. You might want to add a splash of water to the pan to help things along in the beginning, but it isn’t necessary.

Cook until the berries have burst, and the sauce is thick and sticky. You need to cook it until a fair amount of the liquid has evaporated.

Turn off the heat and let the berries cool in the pan until ready to use.

Warm your milk to about 100 degrees and pour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and the yeast and stir gently. Let sit 10 minutes, until the top is foamy.

Add in the eggs, flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt and mix using your dough hook on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth.

Next, with the mixer still running, slowly add the room temperature butter one cube at a time. Wait until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. This should take about 10 minutes.

When all the butter has been added, turn the mixer to low speed and continue kneading for an additional 5 minutes. The proper development of gluten is essential to the final texture, so don’t rush it.

Transfer to a large, greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm spot for 1-1 ½ hours until the dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, whip your softened cream cheese with the ½ cup sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy, set aside.

When the dough has doubled, turn out onto a floured surface and roll out into a 12 x 16 inch rectangle.

Spread the sweetened cream cheese in an even layer all the way to the edge of the dough.

Smear the berry filling over the cream cheese leaving a small gap all the way around (this just helps keep things tidier as you’re rolling).

Next roll the whole babka starting from the long edge into a log.

Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half length wise.

Twist the two halves around each other and tuck the edges under.

Place in a greased loaf pan, cover, and let rise while your oven preheats to 350 degrees.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is browned and when you tap the top you hear a hollow thump.

Let it cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

Store refrigerated for up to a week.

Serve toasted with butter or use it to make some amazing French toast.

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