Let’s be real, you probably don’t feel like baking from scratch today
After Thanksgiving, odds are you’ll wind up with a huge portion of some food you rarely cook with, like cranberry sauce. And sure, you could smear the sauce on toast or make yourself a Ross Gellar-caliber Thanksgiving sandwich, but those really only use a tablespoon or so of cranberry sauce at a time. What you need is to get rid of all that sauce, and fast. So here’s my proposition: Grab a tube of crescent roll dough and bake halfway-homemade cranberry sauce babka.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan very well with butter.
If there are chunks in your cranberry sauce, pour the sauce into a blender or food processor and puree the sauce until smooth. To achieve uninterrupted perfect babka swirls, the filling should be smooth. Add ½ cup powdered sugar and puree again—you’re looking for a texture more akin to nut butter than sauce.
Roll out one 12-ounce can of crescent roll dough on a very lightly floured work surface. Cut the long rectangle in half, then place it underneath the first half to form a wider rectangle, letting the edges just barely overlap. Roll out the dough to make a rectangle about 15 inches long and 9 inches wide.
Spoon out about ½ cup cranberry sauce mixture and use an offset spatula to spread the mixture in a thin layer around the dough, leaving a scant ¼-inch border.
Working from the shorter end, roll the babka up, jelly roll-style, and then pinch the seams to seal in the cranberry sauce. Cut the log in half, vertically, so you have two long longs with a line of exposed filling on one side each.
Lay one log over to another to make an X then twist each side around twice. Lay the twisted logs into the prepared loaf pan. Poke the babka a few times with a toothpick to allow steam to escape.
Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons soft butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of kosher salt. Use a fork to blend the mixture into a crumbly streusel topping.
Finally, brush the top of babka with the egg wash and sprinkle the streusel over the babka.
Bake the babka for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes or so, then turn out of the pan onto a cooling rack and let cool completely, or slice right in.