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  • Lucia Borzillo

Blueberry Lemon Crumb Babka and Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday I was off from work. I went to the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Hartford with my sister. I was able to start the dough for the bread before I left the house.

The way it is written it seems like there are a lot of steps to the recipe. As long as you have all the ingredients ready it is not that daunting. This is my rendition of the recipe.

I changed it so the measurements are enough for one loaf of Babka.

If you try this recipe use this link. There is a video of the entire recipe. I found it very helpful when I had to braid the babka.



3.5 grams active dry yeast

123 grams milk (warmed to 115˚)

38 grams granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

240 grams of all-purpose flour (I used more like 260)

3 grams salt

57 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (4 Tablespoons or 1/4 cup)

Blueberry Filling:

1/4 pint blueberries, fresh or frozen

4 grams lemon juice (½ Tablespoon)

3/4 tsp cornstarch

17 grams sugar

Pinch of salt

Lemon Crumb Topping:

57 grams all-purpose flour

37 grams of confectioner’s sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Egg white


Prepare Dough.

Heat the milk in a saucepan on a low flame, stirring constantly. Do not let the milk get above 115°F.

Place warmed milk into the bowl of an electric mixer.

Sprinkle yeast and approximately 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar over the milk.

Using a fork, stir the mixture to distribute the sugar and hydrate the yeast granules.

Allow it to sit for approximately 3-5 minutes until the mixture gets foamy.

Add the room temperature egg, the lemon juice, and the lemon zest to the mixture.

Using the dough hook, (I found using the paddle hook worked much better), turn the mixer on at a low speed and add the rest of the sugar.

With the mixer running at the lowest speed, add the flour.

As the flour starts to get absorbed by the liquid mixture, raise the mixer to a medium speed.

You may need to turn the mixer off once or twice to wipe down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

knead for approximately 3 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl. If it is too wet (sticking to the sides and bottom of the bowl), add some flour, no more than 1 tbsp. at a time. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Lower the mixer speed to low (1 or 2 on the KitchenAid) and slowly add the salt, allowing it to knead into the dough, for an additional 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer and take a small piece (less than 1 teaspoon) of dough and stretch it between your fingers. It should form a “window pane”, meaning it should get thin enough that it is translucent without it ripping. If it is not at that point yet, continue kneading in the machine at 1-minute intervals. (It may just need an additional minute or two to reach the window pane stage.)

With the mixer running at medium speed, add the butter. It is best to add it one piece at a time, waiting until it is fully integrated into the dough before adding the next piece. You may need to turn off the mixer from time to time to push the slab of butter back into the range of the dough and the hook. This process will take approximately 5 minutes.

Once all the butter is incorporated, the dough will look shiny and slightly sticky. (If, after several minutes, the butter is still not fully incorporated, do not panic. Just move to the next step – having some unincorporated butter is not problematic in this recipe. That said, the key to incorporating the butter is nothing more than patience.)

Lightly grease a bowl with a little butter or nonstick cooking spray.

Form dough into a ball and place it in the bowl.

Turn the dough over to coat it in the butter or nonstick cooking spray and cover tightly with plastic wrap.*

Let the dough sit in a warm area on the counter until doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Make the filling.

Pour the berries into a small or medium-size saucepan.

Pour the lemon juice over.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

Pour over the blueberries.

Over medium heat, stir the mixture and cook until the juices on the bottom start to simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using. Prepare a loaf pan, 8 or 9 inches long, and 3 to 5 inches wide, by coating with nonstick cooking spray or butter. (Using butter imparts more flavor on the edges of your babkas.) For an even easier pan removal, use parchment paper on the bottom and/or sides of the pan, but be sure to coat the parchment with nonstick cooking spray or butter. Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and de-gas it by folding it over onto itself and kneading it a few times by hand. Roll dough out to three inches longer than the length of your pan. (If you are using a 9-inch long pan, roll it out to 12 inches, to form a rectangle of 12 inches by approximately 16-18 inches. The dough should be approximately ⅛ inch thick. Leaving a border of ½ an inch on every side, spread 1/2 of the filling on the dough. Have the dough facing you the long way so that the side of the dough that is three inches longer than the length of your pan is facing you. For example, if your pan is 9 inches long, the side of the dough that is 12 inches long should be in front of you. Roll the dough upward so that you have a 12-inch-long log.

This is where you want to watch the video of how the babka is formed.

Slice the log down the middle in half, exposing the layers of filling.

Form an X with the two pieces, and cross the two over each other starting from the middle and going down towards you.

Repeat from the middle going up.

Place dough in prepared pan.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit until doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Make the crumb topping.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt.

Add the zest and rub it into the sugar/flour/salt with your fingertips to release the oils in the zest.

Add the lemon juice and melted butter.

Stir to form crumbs.

It should be the consistency of sand with some larger clumps.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Approximately 30 minutes into the second rise, preheat the oven to 350° F. Once the babkas have doubled in size, use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the babkas with the reserved egg white.

Sprinkle the lemon crumbs on top and gently press them into the babka so that they stick to the egg white.

Once the babkas have doubled in size, bake for 45-50 minutes.

The babka is done once the top is golden brown. (Best to take the babka’s temperature.

It is done when the internal temperature reaches 205° F). Cool babkas in pans for 10-15 minutes and then remove them from their pans onto a wire rack.

The babkas stay fresh for several days wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature. They also freeze beautifully, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months.

*Or you can place it in the fridge overnight. The dough may not have doubled in size in the refrigerator, but that is not a problem. After you have shaped the babkas and placed them in the pans, allow them to rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 1½ to 2 hours, rather than 1 hour.


About those cookies. A new and now favorite Lemon ShortBread recipe has been found!

I found this on Food Talk Daily. Click here for the original recipe. The dough came together perfectly, using the pastry blender is the way to go with shortbread. The baked cookies have a nice texture and the lemon flavor is strong but not overwhelming.

I strongly recommend glazing the cookies. Deliscious!!


1 cup unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp lemon zest plus more for topping

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt


1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp lemon juice

pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 325.

Place butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender combine butter and sugar until no large chunks of butter remain.

Add lemon zest, salt, coconut and all-purpose flour and continue using the pastry blender to combine until the mixture begins to form a dough that you can press together easily with your hands.

Divide the dough mixture in half. Take one half and use your hands to form a ball. Then place it on a lightly floured work surface and roll to 1/4 inch thick if using cookie cutters.

Use cutters to create shapes and use the excess dough to form a ball again and repeat the process. Then repeat with remaining 1/2 of the dough.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Let cool completely before adding the glaze.


In a small bowl, use a fork to combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and pinch of salt until smooth.

It should be a consistency similar to elmers glue.

Place cookie, top-side down in the bowl of icing then gently lift it out, let excess glaze drip back into the bowl then place it on a cooling rack with parchment paper underneath (there will be dripping).

Continue the process with the rest of the cookies.

Top with extra lemon zest if desired.

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