I’ve made various enriched dough recipes for brioche type bread as well as sweet rolls. Just before Christmas (2018), I saw this on SmittenKitchen for Baklava Babka. I do not like the crunchy, super sweet baklava but I loved the look of this softer babka and it was so pretty in the “round”.
@Fermentada (Melissa) had introduced me to using a sweet, stiff starter when she, with me following close behind, made sourdough raised donuts. From my minimal reading, there is a difference in the type of acid produced with a stiff starter vs a liquid starter. At any rate, I continued using a sweet, stiff starter when making sweet, enriched doughs. I converted the SK recipe to use a sweet, stiff starter by just baking out the amounts of all in the starter from the related ingredients.
So, my adaptation is as follows:
stiff sweet starter: 90 grams flour, 25 grams active starter (whatever your regular bread starter is), 40 g water and 20 g sugar. I usually mix this in the evening.
Next morning add the sweet starter to:
1/2 cup milk
130 g sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla
482 g flour
pinch salt (more if using unsalted butter)
6 T butter
I then use a stand mixer for this dough so not exactly a no knead and if you want to combine by hand go for it. For myself, combining the eggs, sugar and butter is easier with the mixer.
After mixing, I let it sit at room temp for 2-4 hours and then into the frig for 24 (ish) hours. Let the dough warm, roll / shape as you want. I make cinnamon rolls, babka like sweet roll, “Danish”, and doughnuts with this dough.
This dough freezes well, baked items from the dough freeze well also so do not hesitate making a full recipe and freezing either dough, slices, rolls.
Some notes: The stiff starter does not grow or bubble like a liquid starter. I haven’t worried too much about it and use it after 12 hours with no issue. Additionally, the dough itself does not rise much and seems a bit stiff out of the refrigerator. My experience has been that as it warms up, it puffs up a bit and with some gentle kneading before shaping, becomes much softer. Whatever I’ve made with it, then rises normally after shaping. I go for about 25-30% rise after shaping.
The last time I made a babka with the dough, I departed from the cinnamon-nut filling and used walnuts, orange zest, sugar and dried cranberries with an orange syrup instead of honey syrup. That was my favorite to date.
Citrus filling: (mostly I eyeball the quantities, but … approximately as below)
1 cup sugar
1 T zest
mix the zest into the sugar so the zest releases oil, mixes in and smells wonderful!
add some juice (1 T) … not much you don’t want things runny
Softened butter like for cinnamon rolls, then the sugar zest mix and then the fruit (whatever looks good to me). I think I use about a cup of crushed walnuts or pecans.
Above is half the dough. Even if making a round, I split the dough and work with half at a time and join them for a circle or you can bake 2 loaves OR you can cut like cinnamon rolls.
And then donuts:
On the right is a cut, frozen and then lightly thawed donut. On the left is after air frying (5 min and 350). You can deep fry but I was amazed at how well the air fry did for a faster, less mess, I want it NOW! - donut.