By Paula Shoyer
The Washington Post
NEW YORK —
For years I have experienced the thrill of updating traditional Jewish desserts for a modern audience. Now it seems everyone I know is in on the game - because of Thanksgivukkah.
That's the mashup coined to capture next week's convergence of Thanksgiving Day and the first full day of Hanukkah. The dual holiday will not occur for at least another 75,000 years, so I appreciate all the fuss. My respect goes to the 9-year-old boy who created the Menurkey, a turkey-shaped menorah that is selling like latkes.
However, turkey-and-gravy-stuffed doughnuts or a Manischewitz-brined bird just won't do for me.
Although the array of combo culinary experiments sounds fun, I did not want to mess with the Thanksgiving desserts my children and guests expect every year. If I do not serve my dairy-free pumpkin and mocha pecan pies, no amount of Hanukkah gelt will compensate for the loss. I have served only sweet potato latkes in the past and faced a dining-room rebellion of Maccabean proportions.
In order to honor both traditions, I vowed to tread carefully. Jewish baking is often about dough and fillings, which can accommodate Thanksgiving flavors quite nicely. If you have a favorite rugelach dough recipe (or my dairy-free one in The Post's Recipe Finder database), fill it with cranberry preserves and dried cranberries. Thus far, I've done pumpkin churros and apple doughnuts, and I am working on a strudel with apples and sweet potatoes.
My best effort so far is the one I'm sharing with you: Thanksgiving Babka, a rich, sweet yeast bread with ribbons of cranberry sauce baked into the twists of dough. It's not overly sweet; feel free to double the recipe and serve half during the main meal.
Whatever you do, make sure Thanksgivukkah does not overtake your cooking and baking enthusiasm for the rest of the Jewish Festival of Lights, which continues through Dec. 5.
12 to 15 servings (11- or 12-inch loaf)
It took a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to prompt kosher baker Paula Shoyer to create this sweet-tart loaf. Leftovers make great French toast. Or just toast slices by themselves.
You'll need an 11- or 12-inch loaf pan; we found one at Ikea and some disposable aluminum ones at party supply stores.
MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to rest a total of 1 hour and 10 minutes. The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The babka can be covered at room temperature for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
For the dough
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon warm water
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) dairy-free margarine, at a cool room temperature, plus more for the pan
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
For the filling
1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest and 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1/2 large orange
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
8 tablespoons (1 stick) margarine, at room temperature for 30 minutes
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
For the dough: Combine the 1/4 cup of warm water, the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, until it bubbles and thickens.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, the flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, margarine, oil, 1 of the eggs and 1 egg white; reserve the remaining yolk for brushing, covered, in the refrigerator. Beat on low speed until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap, place near or on a warm stove top and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the cranberry juice, sugar and the fresh and dried cranberries in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture bubbles and the fresh cranberries start to pop. All of the sugar might not dissolve; that's okay. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Stir in the apricot preserves, orange zest, fresh orange juice and allspice. Scoop the filling into a bowl and let it cool, uncovered, until ready to use.
While the cranberries are cooking, combine the margarine and light brown sugar in a medium bowl and beat until creamy. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 11- or 12-inch loaf pan with margarine. Sprinkle a little flour on a large sheet of parchment paper.
Divide the dough in half. Roll each piece of dough into a 12-by-14-inch rectangle on the parchment paper so that a long side is facing you. Lift the dough a few times to facilitate rolling, and sprinkle additional flour if the rolling pin sticks to the dough.
Spread half of the margarine-brown sugar mixture all the way to the edges. Scoop up half of the cranberry filling and dump it onto the dough. Use a flexible spatula to spread the cranberry filling all over the sugar filling. Fold the right and left sides 1 inch in toward the center, then roll up tightly from bottom to top. Repeat for the second piece of dough.
When you have 2 rolls, twist them around each other, trying to keep the seams on the bottom. Tuck the ends of the dough underneath, then transfer the twisted dough to the loaf plan. Combine the reserved egg yolk with the remaining teaspoon of water and brush the top of the dough with the mixture. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until browned.
Let the babka rest for 15 minutes before serving, or cool completely before storing.