A twist on the Jewish classic, this sweet bread combines the sweet yeasted dough of babka with the nutty, spiced flavors of baklava. You can use any variety of nuts, but traditional baklava is made with either pistachios or walnuts, or a combination of the two. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup milk
- 3½ teaspoons instant yeast
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Baklava Filling
- ⅔ cup sugar (you can use brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of black pepper and salt
- 2 cups toasted nuts
- Zest of ½ a lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup honey
- ¾ cup water
- Make dough: In a stand mixer, whisk together melted butter, milk, yeast, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Switch to a dough hook and add flour and salt. Knead on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. (You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a dough hook or mixer.) Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot for 1 to 2 hours, until almost doubled in size.
- Make fillings: While dough rises, make your filling. Mix together sugar and spices and set aside. Finely chop toasted nuts and mix with zest and vanilla.
- Roll dough: Grease a bundt pan very well and line bottom with parchment paper. On a floured and long surface, turn out the dough and roll it out 2-feet long along the counter and as far away from you, about 1 foot in width. You should have a very long and thin rectangle of dough ready to be filled.
- Fill babka: Brush dough, except for the last ½ inch furthest away from you, with melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with spiced sugar mix and then with nut mixture. With wet fingers, wet the last ½ inch of dough and roll it up into a tight log. Start with the side closest to you, ending with the wet end to help seal the log.
- Shape your babka: Cut the long log in half and seal each end. Working one log at a time, cut in half lengthwise and face the cut sides up on the counter. Pinch strands together, and gently twist them together, keeping cut sides facing up. This will be messy, but don’t worry—try to keep as much of the filling in the twists as possible. Repeat with other half of dough. Once finished, you should have two separate twists of dough. Place each twist in the pan, tucking the ends around each other so it looks like one long piece of dough.
- Rest and bake: Cover bundt pan with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. While it is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is golden brown and internal temperature is 185 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell if the babka is done when a skewer inserted inside meets no resistance of damp, stretchy dough.
- Make syrup: While the babka bakes, make honey syrup. Combine honey and water in a small pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let simmer until it reduces slightly, about one-third to half in volume. Pour over the finished babka as soon as it leaves the oven, letting the hot bread soak up all of the syrup. Let cool until at least lukewarm before removing from the pan and enjoying.