Vegan apple cinnamon babka that is so fluffy, sweet, and filled with the BEST caramel apple filling! Dairy-free and vegan.

loaf of apple cinnamon babka with glaze being poured over it

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast. Thank you for supporting the brands I use and love!

I have a new love, and it’s apple cinnamon babka! I know babka sounds funny, hard, and like something you totally couldn’t conquer in a weekend, but I promise you can. Honestly, the hardest part about making yeast bread is the waiting, since you have to let it rise twice and just stare at it wondering WHEN DO I GET TO EAT ALREADY?!

The best part? I have a new favorite ingredient for making yeast bread with a twist and it’s basically the best thing since…sliced bread. My longtime sponsor partner, Red Star Yeast, launched an Instant Sourdough that includes a sourdough starter and yeast into one super easy package! To be honest, one of the reasons I haven’t jumped on the sourdough bread train is because of the work involved with starting and feeding the sourdough starter. With the Instant Sourdough, you can make your favorite breads have that perfect sourdough taste to them, like this apple cinnamon babka, without all the extra work! I’m officially in LOVE.

package of instant sourdough on white background

How to make cinnamon apple babka

This cinnamon apple babka is a little more time consuming, but totally worth it! Don’t forget with most yeast bread recipes you have to activate the yeast first to get everything going. Activating yeast is one of the most important parts of getting that perfectly fluffy bread that everyone dreams about. You need to get the engine revved before you start driving, just like you have to get the yeast activated before you start rising!

The first step is to activate the yeast! Combine the yeast, warm almond milk (about bathwater temp is perfect, not too hot and not too cold), and sugar. These three components are always going to come together as the start of a yeast bread because you need the yeast to obviously cause the rising and the bubbling and the perfectly delicious yeast flavor we all love, the water to get things going, and the sugar so the yeast has something to ‘eat’ to get activated. Voila!

Next step, adding the rest of the ingredients! Yeast bread recipes are unique because they don’t always use the muffin mixing method to combine all the ingredients together. You don’t necessarily need to combine the wet and dry ingredients separately and then add them to be mixed. With this apple cinnamon babka, you can add everything in together and mix away! The beauty of yeast bread is that everything just kind of comes together and NEEDS to be kneaded, versus most cookie and cake batters that cannot be overmixed at all.

Think of it kind of like a foolproof method for chronic over mixers (guilty!), because the dough needs to have some time to mix together anyway.

loaf of babka with yeast pack and spoon with glaze on white background

After you’ve added the rest of the ingredients in (olive oil, flour, salt, and spices), you’re going to use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine everything together. Start mixing on medium-medium low and watch the dough come together! If your bread dough is too dry, add a tiny bit of water at a time to nudge it to start to form a call in your mixing bowl. If your bread dough is too wet and isn’t forming into a ball of dough you can pick up easily (pulling away from the sides of the bowl to form a solid bread dough ball), add a tablespoon of flour to see if it starts to come together more easily.

The key, if you’re having trouble with your bread dough being too dry or wet, is to add more water or flour a LITTLE at a time. If you dump a bunch of water or flour into the dough and hope it’s the right amount, you could end up with a dough that’s too far gone in the other direction and now you’re just playing a game of ‘how much water or flour should I add’ to make it just right again.

Now that your dough bread dough has come together, it’s time to rise! Rising seems like a really unnecessary step in bread making and as a fellow impatient bread maker, I can tell you that I GET IT. But, if you want the fluffiest, best apple cinnamon babka around, you have to let it rise (twice actually). We will get into why a bit later!

After the rise, you’re going to roll out the dough into a big rectangle. This gives you ample room to spread on the cinnamon, apples, and sugar to make the insides all sweet and perfect. This is also where you can get creative! Feel free to add pecans to your apple cinnamon babka, a bit of cocoa powder, whatever tickles your fancy. Then shape (more helpful advice on shaping below!) and then let rise again.

After rising twice, your apple cinnamon vegan babka is going to be ready for the oven. Baking babka at 350 degrees is the perfect temperature because it ensures the outside is perfectly golden brown, while the inside is baked, has no raw dough, and doesn’t get dried out. The only thing left to do is let cool, top with glaze, and eat!

slices of apple cinnamon babka on white background

Why does bread rise twice?

The reason why most yeast breads rise twice (like cinnamon rolls, babka, etc.) is to create a finer gluten structure. Ever noticed how the very best cinnamon rolls have a really tender dough that is moist, tender, and so perfect? That’s because of the rise!

Letting bread dough rise twice allows the gluten structure to be finer, so there aren’t any big holes and results in a smaller crumb. With shaped bread, like this apple cinnamon babka, you’re letting it rise twice because the first rise develops the crumb structure and flavor. After the first rise, you’re pushing all the air out of the dough to shape it into the rectangle before filling, so it needs another rise to develop a sturdy crumb before being baked. If you don’t let yeast bread rise the second time, it can become, flat, lifeless, and just generally very meh.

slice and loaf of apple cinnamon babka on white background

How to shape babka

In my opinion, shaping babka is the hardest part of how to make babka! The mixing, kneading, and waiting is easy, but shaping seems hard. It’s actually very simple, as long as you don’t think too hard about it and can do a simple braid.

First, you’re going to roll your babka dough up lengthwise, so you have a long log of dough that’s stuffed with apples, sugar, and spices. Next, take a sharp knife and cut the log of dough down the middle lengthwise. When you cut the babka dough, you’re going to see this awesome stripey pattern that shows you a cross-section of the dough roll.

Next, take your cut dough and braid it into one big bread braid. Don’t worry about it being too perfect! It’s going to rise and bake, so it will change shape just a bit. The biggest thing to keep in mind is making sure you keep the cut side out when you’re braiding the babka, so you can see all the good filling that’s in the middle. This is when it’s key to have the perfect filling because if your babka filling is too watery or wet, it’s going to seep out and create a giant mess. The beauty of this babka recipe is that the filling has just enough sugar that it caramelizes and creates a great little crust on the outside of the bread!

Don’t forget to carefully place the bread into the loaf pan for the second rise! You want it to retain the braid shape, without being too squished or overly smushed into the pan. As I said, it doesn’t need to be perfect but you don’t want it to be a jumbled mess either.

slices and loaf of apple cinnamon babka on white backgound

What apples to use for baking?

The best apples used for baking are going to be firm, slightly dry, and just enough sweet. You don’t want to use something like Red Delicious, because while they generally just aren’t great apples, they also don’t hold up well to baking. I prefer using Honeycrisp, Gala, Braeburn, Gala, or the holy grain, Granny Smith! Granny Smiths are really my favorite because they are sweet, tart, firm, and really hold up well to all kinds of baking.

loaf of apple cinnamon babka on white background

What can I make with a lot of apples?

EVERYTHING! But really, I know how it feels to visit that cute little apple orchard in your town, then come home with a million apples and wonder what the HECK you’re going to do with all of them.

Besides my personal favorite of making apple crisp or vegan babka, I love making applesauce with a ton of apples! Laura from A Beautiful Plate has a super easy Instant Pot applesauce that I make all the time and love to work my way through in the fall. You could also freeze apples to use later in the year or for future apple pies!

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slices of apple cinnamon babka on white background

Vegan Cinnamon Apple Babka

  • Author: Heart of a Baker
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Breads
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Vegan apple cinnamon babka that is so fluffy, sweet, and filled with the BEST caramel apple filling! Dairy-free and vegan.


Scale

Ingredients

For the dough:
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 package Red Star Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup solid coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Slightly warm the almond milk by heating over the stove in a saucepan for a minute or microwaving for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Almond milk should be the temperature of bathwater (not too hot and not too cold)
  2. Combine the warmed almond milk, Sourdough Instant Starter, and sugar in the the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes in order to let the yeast activate.
  3. After yeast has activated, add the salt, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and olive oil. Mix the dough on medium-low for 2-3 minutes, or until dough starts to come together and form a ball. If dough becomes too soft or isn’t coming together, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour and continue to knead. Continue adding flour just until dough comes together.
  4. After dough has come together, transfer to a clean bowl and drizzle very lightly with olive oil (using only 1/2 teaspoon or so of oil) and turn dough to coat the bowl and dough. This will prevent it from sticking while it rises.
  5. Cover bowl with a paper towel or kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour.
  6. While dough rises, make theĀ apple filling by combining all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, except for the coconut oil. Set aside.
  7. Lightly grease a loaf pan and set aside, so it’s ready when you prepare the babka.
  8. After dough has risen, transfer to a flour dusted surface or countertop. Roll dough out into a rectangle that is 14 inches wide by 24 inches long.
  9. Spread the apple filling evenly out over the rolled out dough, leaving an inch or so around the edges.
  10. Take the coconut oil and break into small pieces, scattering them over the filling on the rolled out dough.
  11. Roll the dough up lengthwise, rolling the long part up away from you (you will be making a big, long length of dough).
  12. Cut the rolled up dough down the middle with a sharp knife, so you’re exposing a few layers of that apple cinnamon babka goodness.
  13. Braid the two halves together, with the cut side facing out. Cut the whole braid in half across the middle, so you have two big sections of dough.
  14. Place the two sections next to each other in the loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour.
  15. After dough has risen, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  16. Bake babka for 25 minutes, cover with foil and then bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  17. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

Keywords: vegan apple bread, apple cinnamon bread, babka recipe, vegan babka