Today I’m partnering again with Paradise Fruit Co. to offer you this beautiful gluten free panettone babka. A cinnamon babka meets a panettone for the ultimate soft and flavorful swirled bread. I call it a Panebabka!
Ahh, panettone. It’s one of my favorite sweet breads ever. I never really thought it would be, though! I think I always thought of it as a form of fruitcake because of the candied peel and raisins. But panettone is so delicious, especially when toasted and spread with butter. I only wish I had tried it way before I did (months before I was diagnosed with Celiac).
It’s okay, though, because I’ve managed to make it myself gluten free (see here). And it’s outstanding!! Sometimes, however, the molds are hard to come by and you have to get real crafty when considering what to bake it in. That’s where the loaf pan comes in. And that’s also when I decided to mesh it with one of my other favorite sweet breads–babka. And so, the panebabka was born.
Making Gluten Free Panettone Babka
Before we delve into making gluten free panettone babka, we need to first discuss what panettone and babka are. Panettone is a sweet bread originating from Milan, Italy. There are different versions (like chocolate chip), but the traditional is made with raisins and candied citrus peel. It’s a feathery light bread that’s perfect for toasting and spreading with butter, or for making French toast or bread pudding.
What is babka then? Babka is a Jewish pastry that’s kind of a cross between bread and cake. It’s dense and rich and decadent. The usual is chocolate (see here), but there are all kinds of babka flavors. Remember Seinfeld? I’m showing my age I guess, but they couldn’t decide between cinnamon and chocolate.
Marrying Panettone and Babka
The first step in marrying these two wonderful breads is making the dough itself. This is my workhorse gluten free dough–my sweet cinnamon roll dough. Make the dough as instructed in the recipe and after letting it bulk ferment (proof), put it in the fridge overnight. Refrigerating the dough just makes it more easily manageable. Without this step, it will be a sticky mess.
We’ll be filling this bad boy with cinnamon and raisins spread on the inside and rolled up, just like you’d fill cinnamon rolls. It’s a simple mixture of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little cornstarch to thicken the filling and keep it right where it’s at. And of course raisins because I can’t have panettone without raisins.
Stuffing and Rolling
At this point, you might be wondering where the candied citrus peel comes in. This is the best part of a panettone, in my opinion. The citrus adds such a pop of bright flavor in every bite, there’s no way I’d forget it!
Knead candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, and candied citron right into the dough before rolling it out into a large rectangle. Size isn’t important. We want it to be about a half inch thick, or even a little thinner.
Spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough and sprinkle with the raisins. Press the raisins into the filling slightly to adhere. Roll up the dough as tightly as you possibly can.
Putting the “Babka” in Gluten Free Panettone Babka
I love the swirls that make babkas so unique. They just look so pretty. To make those swirls in this panebabka, use a bench scraper or knife and cut the entire roll in half. Place both halves in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes, or until they’re slightly stiff. They won’t be completely solid, but stiff enough that everything will stay put when cutting and shaping.
Remove the rolls from the freezer and cut only one of the rolls in half lengthwise. Flip the cut sides outward and away from each other. Now braid the cut roll with the uncut one.
Gently lift it up and into a greased and parchment paper-lined loaf pan (a bench scraper works great for this). Cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free area to rise until doubled in size. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a long skewer inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
For the bread flour blend itself, you’ll find all kinds of suggestions for substitutions on my bread flour blend page. Please note, however, that these are merely suggestions. The only thing I cannot have is gluten so I haven’t tried any of the suggestions (except soy milk powder in my all purpose flour for a family member).
For dairy free, you could try refined coconut oil or vegan butter (margarine) in place of the butter and a plant-based milk in place of the milk in the dough.
Who says we have to decide between panettone and babka? We can make them both in one loaf, the panebabka! And let me tell you, this is absolutely worth it. It may be my new favorite gluten free sweet bread 🙂
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- 3½ cups (495 g) Kim's gluten free bread flour blend
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1¾ tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp plus 1½ tsp (24 g) instant (fast acting) yeast
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk (see within post for substitutions)
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks or 169 g) butter, softened or melted
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cup (452 g) mixed candied peel (candied orange, candied lemon, and/or candied citron)
- 2 cups (480 g) raisins
- ½ cup (1stick or 113 g) butter, softened
- 1 cup (200 g) brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt for the egg wash
Make the Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer using dough hooks) add all the dry ingredients (flour blend, sugar, baking powder, yeast, and salt). Whisk to combine.
- With mixer running, slowly add milk, butter, and egg. Turn mixer up to medium high and beat for 5 minutes.
- Using a bowl scraper or spatula, scrape dough into a heap in the middle of the bowl (or transfer to another bowl). Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator to cold ferment (rise) overnight.
On Baking Day
- Remove the dough from the fridge. If only making one loaf, only remove half the dough at this time and wrap and chill the rest of the dough for another day or another use. Add candied citrus peel to the dough and knead it on a well-floured surface, adding more flour as necessary to keep from sticking.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle that's ¼-½-inch thick. At this point, to make it easier to work with, you can put the rectangle of dough in the freezer for 10 minutes, although it's not necessary if you work quickly enough to keep the dough cold.
- Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture all over the dough. It will be very thin. Just do your best to spread it evenly, but it's okay if it doesn't get over every inch of dough. Sprinkle raisins all over the cinnamon mixture.
- Roll the dough up into a long cylinder. Cut the cylinder in half crosswise to create two smaller rolls. Freeze the rolls for 20-30 minutes, or until the dough is stiff.
- Remove the rolls from the freezer and, using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut down the length of one roll in the center. Flip the cut side inside out so that the uncut sides are touching each other. Press together as best you can to adhere. (You can skip this step if you want to and leave the rolls intact. I personally like the way the finished bread looks when this is done). Braid the two halves together.
- Carefully lift the entire braid up and into a parchment lined 8½ by 4 inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size. This could take anywhere from 1-2 hours or more. For best rising results, turn your oven on to the warm function (160-170° F) and then turn it off before placing loaf pan in oven to proof. The residual warmth will help the dough rise. The fully risen dough should come roughly one inch over the top of the pan.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the top of the loaf with an egg wash. Bake the panebabka for 30-35 minutes, or until a long skewer inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (if it has a few wet crumbs, it's done. If it looks doughy, it's not done).
- Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and finish cooling on the wire rack. Slice and serve as desired.