In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat water and 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of the Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar to between 105 to 110°F (40 to 43°C). Using a fork, stir in the active dry yeast. Allow to sit until mixture becomes foamy; 5 to 10 minutes.
Place ½ cup (60 grams) bread flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (see Chef’s Tips). Add in the yeast mixture; mix on low to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow mixture to sit; about 20 minutes.
Add the remainder of the Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar, warm oat milk, half of the remaining bread flour, and egg yolks and mix, starting on low speed to incorporate the dry ingredients and later increasing to medium speed until well combined; about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle attachment.
Switch to the dough hook attachment. Add in the canola oil, vanilla extract, salt, and the remaining flour and knead on low speed; about 1 minute to incorporate the flour into the dough. Increase speed to medium-low. Knead until dough pulls away and cleans the bowl of the stand mixer; about 8 minutes. Dough should be smooth and soft.
Remove dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the ball of dough into a lightly greased bowl turning over once to grease the top.
Cover with plastic wrap or a clean, damp, lint-free kitchen towel and place into a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size; about 1 hour.
While waiting for the dough to rise, make the filling.
In a large bowl, combine the grated apples (see Chef’s Tips) with the lemon juice. Toss to coat.
With a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods until pods crack open and seeds are exposed. Remove and discard the green husks. Add in the anise seeds. Crush the seeds until it resembles a powder (see Chef’s Tips).
In a small bowl, whisk together the Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar, cornstarch, ground cardamom, ground anise seeds, cinnamon, and salt until well mixed. Sprinkle the spiced sugar mixture into the bowl of grated apples. Toss to coat apples.
Transfer the apple mixture into a large skillet or saucepan. Place over medium-low heat. Cook until juices are released from the apples and sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until juices are simmering and sauce has thickened enough to leave a clear, empty trail when running the spatula through the sauce. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and spread mixture into a large dish or a baking sheet to cool quickly to room temperature. Place, uncovered, into the fridge to chill; 20 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently flatten the dough to redistribute the gasses in the dough.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle (14 x 16 inches), using a bench scraper to help shape and square off the edges. The dough will be quite thin. Have the shorter ends parallel with the edge of the work surface.
With a rubber spatula, carefully spread the cooled spiced apple mixture over the rolled-out dough, leaving about half an inch of untouched dough on all edges.
With a small pastry brush, lightly brush the untouched edges with water.
Starting with the shorter side closest to the edge of the work surface, roll the dough into a rope (14 inches long), pressing down gently to seal the dampened edge to the dough. Gently roll the rope back and forth until even in size (dough will be about 2 to 2½ inches in diameter x 14 inches in length). Place the rope onto the lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Place baking sheet into the fridge to rest and chill; 20 minutes. Chilling the dough will make it easier to slice.
Lightly grease and line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the longer sides of the pan for easy unmolding.
Remove the baking sheet with the chilled rope from the fridge. With a sharp serrated knife, making sure the seam side is down, carefully slice rope in half lengthwise.
With the cut sides facing up, place one rope over the middle of the other one creating an “X.” Take the bottom left “arm” and cross it over or under the right “arm” (whichever direction doesn’t undo the existing cross). Repeat until the bottom half of the “X” is twisted together, ensuring that the cut sides face upwards at every “twist.” Pinch the two ends together. Rotate the baking sheet and complete the process with the other side until the entire loaf is twisted.
Carefully lift the twisted loaf from the baking sheet and into the prepared loaf pan, pushing the two ends towards each other and, if necessary, tucking the ends in to help it fit into the pan.
Loosely cover the loaf with plastic wrap that has been lightly greased or a damp, lint-free kitchen towel to prevent it from sticking to the dough as it rises. Place dough in a warm, draft-free location until almost doubled in size or the dough slowly fills in the indent when gently poked with a finger; about 1 to 1½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C) about 30 minutes into the proofing time to ensure that the oven is adequately heated.
Place the proofed babka onto the middle rack of the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 350°F (177°C) and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature reads 190°F (88°C), or a skewer, when inserted in the centre, comes out clean.
While the loaf is baking, make the simple syrup.
In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar, water, and honey. Place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm.
When the babka comes out of the oven, place onto a wire cooling rack, and immediately drizzle and brush the top of the loaf with all of the warm simple syrup.
Cool completely in the pan before unmolding or slicing as it may fall apart.
Store babka wrapped well in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 4 days, or up to 2 months in the freezer wrapped additionally in aluminum foil.
*The dough can be made by hand if a stand mixer is not available. Use a large bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon to do all the mixing. When switching to the dough hook, use your hands to knead the dough. In the bowl, fold the dough onto itself while pushing it away from your body with the heel of your hand. Rotate dough slightly and repeat process until ingredients are fully incorporated. Kneading by hand will take twice as long as using a mixer.
*If using a spice grinder, make sure to remove the green husks of the cardamom pods before grinding. This can be done by gently squeezing each pod until it cracks open or by placing pods onto a cutting board and using the bottom of a pot to crush the pods open.
*If using ground cardamom, use between 1½ to 2 teaspoons for the 9 cardamom pods. If using ground anise seeds, use about 1 teaspoon in place of the whole anise seeds.
*When grating apples, use the large-holed side of a box grater.
*Replace water with unsweetened apple cider or juice for a more apple-forward taste.
*Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar can be successfully substituted for the Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar. Note that the resulting loaf will be lighter in colour and have a more subtle caramel flavour undertone.