In New York City, chocolate babka reigns supreme but as we’re heading into fall this was the perfect time to combine pumpkin and babka. Babka is usually baked into a bread pan but I decided to have fun with this recipe and shaped it into a large knot. This babka is filled with a sweet brown sugar pumpkin filling and packed with classic fall spices!
😋 Taste and features
- Makes one perfect 9″x5″ loaf – or you can double up to make a giant knotted babka!
- Packed full of pumpkin flavor due to the pumpkin filling AND pumpkin spice in the dough!
- Gorgeous to look at and stays moist for days!
Traditional Babka used to be made with oil but it has since deliciously evolved to be made with butter – providing more flavor and richness. Babka is made with brioche (enriched) dough that has a high fat vs flour ratio in the dough. Due to the higher amount of fat in the dough, gluten takes a longer time to develop which is why we knead this dough for up to 10 (!) minutes!
🛒 Ingredient notes
- Unsalted Butter: 5 tbsps of room temperature butter!
- Sugar: Granulated sugar will add sweetness to the dough while brown sugar will be used for the filling.
- Eggs: 2 egg yolks will keep your dough extra moist and rich! You can save the egg whites to be used for meringue in the future!
- Milk: Milk provides more flavor than water – I used whole milk but 2% should work as well.
- Flour: Use all purpose flour – ideally you should weigh your flour but if not make sure to scoop and level your flour. (No packing!)
- Pumpkin Puree: They star ingredient to make this the perfect fall bread!
- Active Dry Yeast: There are no chemical leaveners in this bread so the yeast will do all the rising!
- Salt: Just a little to bring out the sweetness.
While babka looks like an intimidating – all it takes is some patience and some good coffee!
- Warm your milk to 105F-115F activate yeast- The warm milk activates the yeast with the help of 1 tbsp of sugar! Too hot and you’ll kill the yeast and if it’s too cold it won’t activate the yeast.
- Wait for you dough to rise overnight in the fridge – There’s a lot of waiting in this recipe but I promise you it is worth it!
- Let your dough warm up – The dough should not be ice cold before you start rolling it out.
- Roll your dough out – You want this to be the length of your bread pan so 9″ across depending your pan size!
- Spread on your filling – You want to make sure that the pumpkin filling covers the entire rectangle!
- Shape the babka – Feel free to shape it twisted into a loaf pan or into a knot like I did!
- Let dough rest (again) – The second rise will help your dough rise again as When you roll out the dough you take the air out of it – letting it rise again will insure a pillowy soft babka!
- Bake – Once you pull the dough out of the oven brush on the simple syrup to create that extra shiny look!
- Enjoy! – You’ve made it! I hope you enjoy and savor this recipe!
🙋 Frequently asked questions
What kind of yeast should I use?
I used active dry yeast as we’re blooming the yeast in the milk-sugar mixture.
Why is my dough so wet?
This is an enriched dough so it will take some time for the dough to come together. It won’t be like other doughs where it will form a ball at the very end and will still look a bit sticky and wet! Make sure you keep mixing even though it feels “wrong”!
When can I stop mixing my dough?
You want to keep mixing so that gluten develops in your bread to give it that chewy texture. The best way to check is with the windowpane test – take a piece of dough and stretch it out slowly so that it looks almost transparent before splitting. Another way to check is that it will form a “tornado” around your dough hook and shouldn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.
Why do I have to use room temperature ingredients?
Room temperature ingredients ensures that everything combines easily and smoothly. You can warm up your butter by placing it in the microwave in 10 second spurts until it warms up (be careful to make sure it doesn’t melt). You can also warm up your eggs by placing them in a bath of warm water.
How should I add my butter in the dough?
Make sure you add in the butter 1 tbsp at a time and making sure it gets incorporated before adding in more. If you add it in too quickly the fat from the butter will cause your dough to break and result in an oily dough. Slow and steady wins the race!
🧺 Storage tips
- Room Temperature: Store at room temperature wrapped in an an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Fridge: Cool bread completely and store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
🔎 Related recipes
Heres a few more fall related recipes!
- Electric Stand Mixer
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour (240 Grams)
- 2 Egg Yolks (Room Temperature)
- 1 1/4 tbsp (1/2 Package of Active Dry Yeast) (3.5 Grams)
- 5 tbsp Butter (Room Temperature)
- 1/4 Cup Whole Milk (60 ml)
- 1/4 Cup Granulated White Sugar (50 Grams)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Brown Sugar:
- 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (120 Grams)
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (100 Grams)
- 3 tbsp Butter (Room Temperature)
Simple Syrup Recipe:
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Water
- Microwave milk in 30 seconds spurts until it gets to 105F-115F and then gently stir in in a 1 tbsp from the 1/4 cup of sugar as well as the yeast to the warm bowl of milk. Wait 5 minutes and you should see it foam – if it does not foam the yeast is too old, or the milk is too cold/hot.
- Get a large mixing bowl and mix flour and remaining sugar. Turn on your stand mixer to low speed and add in your 2 egg yolks to the mix. Once the egg yolks are incorporated add in your bloomed yeast mixture and increase your electric mixer to medium speed.
- Once the dough starts to come together, add in salt and room temperature butter 1 tbsp at a time at medium-low speed until everything has been added. Scrape down the sides as the bowl from time to time to make sure the butter has been incorporated in the dough.
- Continue to mix the dough for 8-10 minutes on medium until the dough looks smooth – if it has lumps keep mixing!
- Lightly grease a large bowl and place the the dough in the bowl with a saran wrap and let it rest for 1 day in your fridge.
- Take out the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up in room temperature for about an hour allow to come to room temperature.
- As you are waiting for the dough combine pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter until the mixture is combined.
- Once the dough is warm dust a light layer of flour on a surface and begin to roll out the dough into a rectangle – the longer side should be the side facing you.
- Spread your pumpkin filling all the way to the edge of the rectangle.
- Starting at the side of the rectangle closest to you, roll up the dough tightly until it forms a log. Adjust the log so that it is seam-side down and then cut the log the long way in half so that you can see all the pumpkin layers.
- If you want to shape it into a knot or you can make a classic babka bread shape by taking the first split log (layered sides up) and cross one piece over forming an x in the center. Then take the top two pieces of the x and then cross those 2 pieces over and pinch the ends together and do the same for the bottom half.
- If you shaped it onto a knot, place it on a parchment paper or you can grease a bread pan and place the shaped bread. Make sure to let the dough rest for an additional 1 1/2 hours before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 45 minutes. While the bread is baking, make the simple syrup recipe by adding in the sugar and water to a pan and heating it up until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Once the bread is out of the oven brush the simply syrup recipe on the the bread to give it a shiny gloss.