Thank you Celestial Seasoning for sponsoring this post. I was selected for this opportunity and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
The weather has turned colder, the fireplace is perfectly set with a crackling fire to cozy up to, and I’ve baked an aromatic Cranberry Cream Cheese Babka.
Babka is a beautiful thing!
A brioche-like sweet bread made with yeast, babka is typically filled with chocolate or cinnamon. This sweet bread has been a favorite of mine for many years, especially since Jerry and Elaine visited a bakery on the Dinner Party episode of Seinfeld!
… another Babka? – Jerry Seinfeld
Celestial Seasonings has always had a place in our cupboards, from Sleepy Time to Red Zinger, and now this warming rooibos based tea, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland tea. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been mesmerized by their story book type drawings that are completely nostalgic.
Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I feel like a bright-eyed child waiting for Santa, and have been baking up plenty of treats to share with friends and family including this babka beauty.
For this recipe, I was completely inspired by the magic of tea and Celestial Seasonings’ Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland, which is part of their Holiday Tea collection.
I have gently infused warm milk with the tea as the key to unwrapping the holiday seasons’ flavors, and then I added a cranberry and cream cheese filling to compliment the flavor of the tea. What I ended up with, is a brioche-like, braided babka that is lovely served hot out of the oven, or even toasted with a spread of creamy butter, plus a nice cup of Celestial Seasonings herbal tea.
For more information or recipe inspiration, visit Celestial Seasonings website. You can also keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Check out the video below for the Candy Cane Lane Chocolate Bark, so amazingly chocolatey!
For the Dough:
- 1 cup Milk
- 4 Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Teabags
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract or paste
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 cup fresh or frozen Cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried Cranberries
- 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Cranberry Juice or Water
- 1/2 cup Walnut pieces, toasted
- 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup Sugar
For the Dough:
- In a small saucepan, gently warm milk with the 1 Tbsp of Sugar to simmer, about 5 minutes, making sure the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from heat and then add in the 4 Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Teabags. Steep for at least 10 minutes. The longer you can steep the tea, the richer the flavor.
- Once the infused milk is ready, discard teabags and test the temperature of the milk, if it's too cold, then gently warm milk up to simmer, milk should just be warm (between 95 - 115°F).
- Sprinkle the Yeast over the warm milk and allow the yeast to rest for 5 - 10 minutes or until it bubbles and thickens.
- In a large bowl, add the Milk mixture, Flour, Eggs, Vanilla, Salt, Sugar and softened Butter.
- Using the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer (or can be mixed using a wooden spoon), mix all ingredients until well combined. Dough will be slightly sticky.
- Lightly butter/grease a large, clean bowl, transfer the dough, rolling it around to coat dough on all sides. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
For the Cranberry Filling:
- While the dough is rising, you can make the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add together both Cranberries, Butter, Vanilla Cinnamon and Cranberry Juice (or Water). Cook for about 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is a thick jam-like mixture. Remove from Heat and allow to cool.
- In a dry skillet, toast Walnuts for 3 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
- Add the Walnuts to the Cranberry mixture and set aside.
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
- Mix together the softened Cream Cheese and 1/3 cup Sugar together until well blended. Set aside.
To Finish Assemble the Babka:
- Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, punch down and roll into approximately an 18 - 15 rectangle.
- Spread the sweetened Cream Cheese over dough, leaving about 1/2 inch border along one short side.
- Add the Cranberry mixture over the Cream Cheese, slightly marbling as you spread.
- Starting with the filling covered short end, steadily and evenly roll it up, sealing the edge.
- Using a sharp knife, cut dough in half, lengthwise. Turn dough cut side up and place beside each other.
- Starting in the middle, twist dough keeping the cut side up and seal/pinch dough to seal at end. Repeat from middle to end for other side.
- Very carefully transfer dough to the prepared, parchment lined loaf pan.
- Cover and let rise, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has risen above the loaf pan.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover Babka dough, bake for 45 - 55 minutes. Loosely cover Babka during the last 20 minutes with foil, to prevent over browning. Babka should be golden brown.
- Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and peel away the parchment, transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.
Stacey is a Southern girl with a taste for travel, thriving on the discovery of the world through food. After spending many years traveling and living overseas, she’s now back home in her beloved deep south enjoying life with her three little ones and loving the adventure. She’s a food stylist and food photographer, as well as, the creative behind Little Figgy Food, where she loves to inspire others to try new flavors and foodie techniques.