Let’s give the ‘lesser babka’ some love! This Brown Sugar Pecan Babka makes for a delicious treat!
It’s babka season! Well, to be fair, all seasons are babka seasons. But our grocery store here in upstate New York is always overrun with babka in the spring…particularly the weeks leading up to Easter.
When we first moved up here, I remember seeing this babka party at the store and thinking Huh? What is this babka thing? Same goes for paczki…another recipe that I need to try out at home as I suspect homemade is way better than the grocery store version.
As I mentioned back when I posted this Chocolate Hazelnut Babka, my first and only experience with babka was from Seinfeld. In one episode, Jerry and Elaine go to purchase a chocolate babka, only to see the last one sold to the lady in front of them in line. They leave with a cinnamon babka, which Elaine calls “the lesser babka.”
Well, it’s time to embrace that lesser babka, my friends! Except instead of cinnamon, I went with a Brown Sugar Pecan Babka. Sure, there’s cinnamon in there. But brown sugar + pecan are the predominant flavors.
If you’re not familiar with babka, then you need to be! Babka is a yeasted bread that is somewhat similar to brioche. And that means babka is perfect for french toast! I enjoy a slice of warm babka right out of the oven, or on Day #2 I’ll top it with butter and give it a run through the toaster oven. And then on the weekends, it’s leftover babka for the french toast win!
Oh, and another unique thing about babka? The dough rises overnight. Yes, that’s right. Overnight. The dough itself gets made the day before, and then it rests in the fridge overnight. Sure, that sounds like a real pain. But then the next day is a cinch as you just need to make the filling and roll/twist/braid that babka into it’s final shape. And then you get to eat warm Brown Sugar Pecan Babka. And lightly-toasted babka. And babka french toast. And babka ham sandwiches. Just kidding. I had to make sure you were still paying attention there! (Although if you want to make a ham sandwich with your Brown Sugar Pecan Babka, then knock yourself out. I won’t judge.)
I hope you had a great week, friends! And just think…wouldn’t this weekend be better with a warm slice of babka? Cheers!
Brown Sugar Pecan Babka
For the Dough
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp + ½ tsp instant dry yeast
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
For the Caramel Pecan Filling
- ¾ cup pecans
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Egg Wash
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp milk
For the Dough
- Using a small bowl, combine the melted butter, milk and sugar. (Note: The mixture should only be lukewarm. If it gets too hot, just let it cool off for a couple of minutes before proceeding.)
- Add the instant yeast to the lukewarm butter mixture. Whisk together and set aside momentarily.
- Meanwhile, using a countertop mixer, add the flour, egg, egg yolks, vanilla, salt and vegetable oil Add the melted butter mixture to the bowl and mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes, or until well combined.
- Increase speed to medium for another 1-2 minutes. (Note: The dough at this stage will be very soft and sticky.)
- Flip dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and fold 3-4 times, rotating the dough 90° after each fold. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, begin preparing the Caramel Pecan Filling by toasting the pecans in a 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes. Finely chop the toasted pecans.
- Using a small bowl, combine the chopped pecans with the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon; mix until well combined; set aside.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into a 10” by 15” rectangle. Spread Caramel Pecan Filling evenly across top of the dough, leaving a ½” border with no filling.
- Beginning with a long edge, roll the dough up into a log, tucking the side edges in as you roll (see picture in post). Pinch seam together.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the dough log down entire length. Place both halves layer-side up next to each other. Pinch the tops of two halves together and then carefully twist the halves around each other, keeping the layer-side up the whole time. Pinch the bottoms of the two halves together. Place twisted loaf into a greased 5" x 9" bread pan. Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm location. Let dough rise for ~1-1½ hours, or until dough just begins to rise over top of the pan.
- Make the egg wash by lightly beating the egg with the milk until well combined. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325°F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or until top of the bread is golden brown. (Note: If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the loaf after the first 30 minutes).
- Let bread cool in pan for ~15 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled.