Pumpkin Date Babka

This tightly woven Pumpkin Date Babka is visually impressive, and braiding the dough to create the design is easier than you think. The tender pumpkin bread is layered with spiraling waves of Date-Hazelnut Filling gently spiced with a dash of cardamom. We like slicing into the round like you would a pie and drizzling wedges with the tangy Crème Fraîche Honey Glaze before serving.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Pumpkin-Date Babka
Makes 1 (12- to 13-inch wide) round loaf
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) warm whole milk (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 4 tablespoons (48 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) active dry yeast
  • 3¾ cups (469 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (183 grams) canned pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams), divided
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • Date-Hazelnut Filling (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) water
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) sanding sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Crème Fraîche Honey Glaze (recipe follows)
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm milk, 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar, and yeast by hand with whisk attachment until yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes. Using the paddle attachment, add ¾ cup (94 grams) flour, beating at low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  2. Add salt, remaining 3 cups (375 grams) flour, and remaining 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar to sponge. Using the dough hook attachment, add pumpkin, 2 eggs (100 grams), and vanilla, beating at low speed until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl, and increase mixer speed to medium-low; beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 9 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next.
  3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape dough into a ball, and place in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
  4. Punch down dough, and divide in half (about 490 grams each). On a large lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into an 18x9-inch rectangle. Spread half of Date-Hazelnut Filling onto each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Starting with one long side, roll up dough, jelly roll style; pinch edges to seal. Place rolls, seam side down, on work surface. Using a bench scraper, cut each roll in half lengthwise; turn halves cut side up.
  5. To prepare loaf for braiding, lay two strands side by side horizontally across your work surface. Place remaining strands perpendicular to them over center. To weave the center, carefully fold back the top half of the left vertical strand and the left side of the top horizontal strand. Return the vertical strand to its previous position, then lay the horizontal strand over it. Repeat by folding back the bottom half of the right vertical strand and the right half of the bottom horizontal strand. Return the vertical strand to its previous position, then lay the horizontal strand over it. The four strands should now be closely woven at center.
  6. To braid loose ends, lift each “under” strand over the strand to its right until you’ve gone clockwise one full circle. Repeat procedure in a counterclockwise direction, lifting each “under” strand over the strand to its left until you’ve gone one full circle. Repeat braiding in alternating directions until you’ve reached ends. Tuck ends under.
  7. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon (14 grams) water and remaining 1 egg (50 grams). In another small bowl, stir together sanding sugar and cinnamon. Brush dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  10. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 205°F (96°C), 55 minutes to 1 hour, covering with foil after 25 minutes of baking. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with Crème Fraîche Honey Glaze.
For a step-by-step visual guide on how to braid this loaf, check out our Rosemary Fig Marsala Round Challah recipe on bakefromscratch.com.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Date-Hazelnut Filling
Makes about 1¼ cups
  • 1½ cups (262.5 grams) whole pitted dates
  • ⅓ cup (80 grams) water
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup (113 grams) finely chopped hazelnuts
  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine dates and ⅓ cup (80 grams) water. Loosely cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  2. Place dates, any remaining water, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and cardamom in the work bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool completely. Stir in hazelnuts.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Crème Fraîche Honey Glaze
Makes about ¾ cup
  • ½ cup (120 grams) crème fraîche
  • ½ cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (42 grams) honey
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.


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  1. The sponge isn’t rising.. I did it 3 times
    – also tried instant yeast
    – also tried half flour, (blanket it with other half)
    No rising !!!!! Plz help

    • Hi Danah,
      I’m so sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your yeast. I can’t quite tell what stage you are in when your yeast isn’t showing activity, but in the first step, when you add your milk, sugar, and yeast, you should see slight foaming after 10 minutes. If you do not see foaming, check the date on your yeast (or storage conditions) to make sure it hasn’t expired. Also, you want your milk to be at 105 to 110 deg F. Any hotter, and you may deactivate your yeast, and if the milk is cold, the yeast may not fully activate. After you add your flour, the poolish will need to set in a warm, draft-free place. If your kitchen is very cold, you may have a much slower rise. Let me know if any of these conditions sound like they might have affected your results!

  2. Loved this recipe! Mine turned out great, but I do have two questions.

    Could you half this recipe & make it a smaller loaf? Also, could’ve you bake in a round cake pan to keep a more defined shape?


    • Hi Molly!

      We are so glad you loved the recipe. You could definitely halve the dough and also bake it in a round pan. We would recommend an 8 or 9-inch round to accommodate the dough when the recipe is half as much. Happy baking!


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