10 tablespoons Unsalted Butter at room temperature
For the syrup:
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Water
For the dough:
Combine warm milk, pinch of sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and allow yeast to become foamy (this takes around 5-10minutes).
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add flour, ⅓ cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Give it a quick whisk.
Place the bowl on the mixing stand and fit with the dough hook attachment. Pour in vanilla and the yeast mixture and begin mixing on low. Slowly stream the eggs into the mixing bowl and let the dough begin to form.
If the dough isn’t cooperating and doesn’t come together, add one tablespoon of flour at a time until it begins to form.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time. Wait until each tablespoon is fully combined before adding the next! Let the mixer knead the dough for another 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
In a large, oiled mixing bowl and add dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm spot (like the oven with the light on) to rise until doubled (about 1-2 hours).
After your dough has risen, punch it down, and refrigerate overnight. Don’t skip this step! Letting your dough rise this way does wonders for flavor development.
For the cherry filling:
Drain and thoroughly rinse one can of Oregon Fruit dark cherries. Pour the cherries onto a clean kitchen towel, pat slightly dry, and break in half. Place the broken cherries, sugar, a dash of salt, and lemon juice into a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until the mixture begins to reduce and a syrup begins to form. Turn to low once the cherries begin to thicken and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. You’ll want to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn!
Place in a container and cool in the fridge overnight as your dough rises.
The next morning:
Place your refrigerated dough and one block of cream cheese out to come to room temperature along with your cooled cherry filling.
On a floured surface, cut dough in half and roll out dough into a 15 x 11”rectangle. Smear half of the softened cream cheese all over dough and then add half the cherry sauce on top. Roll into a log (like cinnamon rolls!) and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this process with the other half of dough.
Cut dough in half, lengthwise and lay one half of the dough on top of the other, making an "X" and twist downward. Pinch the ends on both sides. If a bit of the filling comes out, it's normal.
With the cut sides facing up, place one half of the cut dough on top of the other making an “X”. Gently twist together to create a two-strand braid. Don’t worry if some of the filling spills out, that’s normal! Repeat with the second log of dough.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully transfer the two braids to the prepared pan and shape them into one large circle by braiding together the ends of each twist.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. During the last 30 minutes of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the plastic wrap. Bake the babka for 25 to 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean. If the top of the bread is browning too quickly, tent with foil.
While the babka is baking, make the glaze. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat.
Brush the babka with the glaze as soon as it comes out of the oven! Keep brushing the bread until most of the glaze is gone.
Allow the babka to cool completely before serving.
Optional: Make a simple powdered sugar glaze and drizzle all over the bread before serving for an extra sweet treat!