Tu B’Shevat Seven Species Babka
Tu B’Shevat, the new year for trees, falls on Jan. 21 this year. Thanks to the folks at Jewish National Fund, here’s a one-of-a-kind babka made with the seven species of Israel.
The original “tree people,” JNF has planted 240 million trees in Israel to date, making Israel one of only two countries to enter the 21st century with a net-tree gain.
It’s traditional in some Jewish communities to host a Tu B’Shevat seder, where these foods are enjoyed as part of a Passover-like seder program.
For the dough:
1 Tbsp. dry active yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
3/4 cup olive oil
For the filling:
1 cup dried figs, cut in half
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup water
1/2 cup wine or grape juice
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
For the topping: (topping is optional)
Place yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Add lukewarm water and set aside until foamy, around five to 10 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook or a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Start with 3 1/2 cups of flour and add more later if dough seems too sticky. Add milk and olive oil. Add the eggs one at a time.
When the dough begins to come together, after about three to five minutes, turn out onto a floured surface and knead vigorously for five to 10 minutes.
Or if using a stand mixer, switch to high and mix another four to give minutes. Dough should be shiny, elastic and very soft when it is done.
If dough is sticking too much, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is no longer sticking.
Place dough in a greased bowl with a damp towel on top. Allow one to two hours to rise.
While dough is rising, make filling. Combine all filling ingredient in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce for 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced to slightly more than half.
Allow to cool slightly. Place in food processor and pulse.
Note: you can also replace filling with store-bought fig jam.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut dough into two parts. Roll out each section of dough until it is a rectangular-like shape.
Spread with filling. Working from the shorter side, roll up dough using quick fingers, like you would in order to make cinnamon rolls.
Once the dough is a long log, cut it straight down the middle so the filling is exposed. Secure the ends on one side and twist both the pieces. Pinch and secure at the other end.
Place in a greased loaf pan. Allow to rise another 10 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle top with slivered almonds if desired (this step is optional).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Top with date honey if desired.