Reuban babka takes the soft, fluffy dough of a traditional babka and fills it with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, mayo, ketchup, Dijon, and caraway seeds. Our testers loved it, we know you will too.
What makes babka so beautiful is how customizable it is. Long gone are the days of Seinfeld, when your only choices were chocolate or cinnamon! After tweaking and perfecting my base dough, I began pushing the boundaries of what I could twist between these fluffy layers: Silky tahini was swirled into chocolate ganache, cinnamon was used to spice a pumpkin filling for a fall-baking vibe, and I entered the magical world of savory babkas, spreading pistachio pesto studded with sun-dried tomatoes on the dough and, finally, baking this loaf packed with all the flavors of the classic reuben.—Jake Cohen
Reuben Babka FAQs
To be sure your babka is cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer to check that the internal temperature is 185℉. This method is also good if you don’t have a toothpick long enough to reach the middle of the loaf.
Don’t skimp on the proof. If you want a fluffy babka, make sure you give it time to rise; how long it needs will fluctuate depending on the time of year and how warm (or cold) your kitchen gets. The visual cues are simple: double in size for the first proof and expand to fill the loaf pans for the second.
Babkas are generally best eaten the same day that they are made. This version will make an incredible grilled or toasted sandwich the next day, however. Or even just toasted and slathered with butter.
Ready for an Inception-level meltdown? Slice up this pastrami and swiss cheese stuffed babka and use it to make…well another Reuben! Or the most amazing grilled cheese you’ve ever had.
For the babka
For the Reuben filling
Make the babka
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the warm milk and sugar together. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the melted butter and 3 of the eggs, then whisk until well incorporated. Switch to the dough hook, then add the flour and salt. Beginning on low speed and gradually increasing to medium, knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Slick a medium bowl and your hands with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Using your hands, transfer the dough to the bowl, gently turning to coat it with the oil, and shape it into a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour to 1 hour 40 minutes. (Alternatively, you can let the dough rise in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.)
Make the Reuben filling
While the dough is rising, in a medium bowl, stir together the pastrami, cheese, sauerkraut, mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard until well combined.
Assemble the babka
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Slick two 9-by-5 inch (23-by-13 cm) loaf pans with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, using 1 tablespoon for each pan.
Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough into a 12-by-14inch (30-by-35 cm) rectangle, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick and aligned horizontally.
Spread half the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border all the way around the rectangle. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough tightly into a log. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the roll lengthwise in half. Twist the strands together and pinch the ends to seal. Carefully place the babka in one of the prepared loaf pans.
Repeat this process with the remaining dough and filling. Cover both babkas loosely with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towels and set aside in a warm area until the dough expands to fill the pan, about 45 minutes.
Bake the babka
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg, then liberally brush each babka with the egg and top with caraway seeds. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the babkas are golden and each has reached an internal temperature of 185°F (85°C), 40 to 55 minutes.
If your loaves begin to darken too much during baking, cover with foil.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly in the pans, then remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely before slicing and serving. Babka is best served the day it’s baked.
Serving: 1servingCalories: 293kcal (15%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 12g (24%)Fat: 14g (22%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 71mg (24%)Sodium: 565mg (25%)Potassium: 140mg (4%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 5g (6%)Vitamin A: 332IU (7%)Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)Calcium: 122mg (12%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Originally published November 27, 2021