So, I usually try to compensate for our holiday challenges in other ways, mostly by focusing on what I’m good at: making showstopping desserts. I love the idea of edible holiday decorations like gingerbread houses, Christmas cookie ornaments, and beautiful braided breads like this cinnamon raisin wreath:
Traditionally, babkas are baked in loaf pans and therefore come in loaf form. But because this recipe makes so much dough (usually enough for two standard 5 by 9-inch loaves), I was able to take the dough and shape it into a wreath. It’s much easier than it looks, and the babka’s sliced edges give the wreath a beautiful texture that catches the glaze and powdered sugar beautifully. Be sure to watch the video on my Instagram page and check out the GIFs below to see how this wreath came together!
Some baker’s notes:
- Just a head’s up that there’s no sugar in the filling — my first few versions of this wreath added 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of sugar in the recipe, but the sugar always ended up leaking out in the oven and creating a sticky mess. I like the flavor of Land O Lakes® Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread on its own and think it’s plenty sweet without the extra sugar (it reminds me of my favorite cinnamon sugar breakfast cereal!), but if you insist on a sweeter bread, add 1/4 cup more raisins and go heavy on the glaze and powdered sugar.
- If you’re feeling strapped for time, you can break the recipe up into two parts and proof the dough in the refrigerator overnight to have it ready to go the next morning. After mixing the dough, transfer it to lightly greased glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight until doubled in size. Another benefit of chilling the dough overnight is that it actually makes it easier to roll and shape into a wreath!
Cinnamon Raisin Wreath Bread
For the Dough
- 4 1/4 cups (19.15 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water, between 120 (F) to 130 (F)
- 2/3 cup (5.35 ounces) Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-inch cubes
For the Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- 6 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread
- 1/4 cup (1.35 ounces) raisins
For the Glaze
- 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
- confectioners’ sugar
For the Cinnamon Raisin Wreath Bread
- First, make the dough. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk to combine and nestle into the electric mixer. Turn the mixer on to its lowest speed and add 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk one at a time, only adding the next egg when the previous egg is fully incorporated. With the mixer still on the lowest setting, stream in 1/2 cup warm water. Once all the water has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until dough forms, around 3 minutes. Add 2/3 cup Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter a few cubes at a time, adding butter only when the previous cubes have fully incorporated into the dough. Once all the butter has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any stray ingredients. Turn the mixer back to medium speed and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is completely smooth, elastic and shiny.
- Once the dough is as described, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (between 70 to 80 degrees) for at least 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to punch down the dough and roll into a rectangle about 12 by 22-inches. Use a bench scraper to push the edges of the dough mass to create smooth, even sides as necessary.
- Use an offset spatula to spread 6 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread evenly across the rectangle, making sure to spread the butter right up to the edges of the dough. Scatter 1/4 cup raisins over the butter.
- Now, it’s time to roll and braid the wreath. Use both hands to roll the rectangle like a roulade, starting from one of the longer 22-inch sides of the rectangle. You’ll end up with a thick log of dough that looks and feels like the world’s longest burrito. Use a bench scrape to slice the log in half lengthwise; you are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling from the log visible along the length of both halves.
- Align the dough logs so that they are next to each other and parallel, but with the layers of dough and filling visible and facing upwards. Start in the middle and “braid” the two logs into each other by lifting the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time, lift the left half over the right. Repeat this process until there is no longer any dough left to braid, and move to the top half of the dough and repeat. You’ll end up with a long twist. Take the ends of the twist and join them so that they form a circle, braiding the ends together for continuity.
- Carefully transfer the circle to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Place a small, round 3 1/2-inch ramekin in the center of the wreath to help maintain its shape as it rises. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours; the wreath won’t double in size, but will rise by about 20%. Towards the end of the rising time, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 (F).
- Remove plastic wrap and transfer to the oven. Bake the babka for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of the dough should read between 190 to 200 (F). Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before glazing.
For the Glaze and Assembly
- In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream until a thick paste forms — the paste should be fairly thick, but still with the ability to drip slowly. Transfer to a piping bag with a small tip and squeeze over the Christmas wreath in a zigzag fashion.
- Garnish with confectioners' sugar and serve with a side of Land O Lakes® Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread. Enjoy!