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.

Pumpkin-Date Babka
 
Makes 1 (12- to 13-inch wide) round loaf
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  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.
Notes
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.

Date-Hazelnut Filling
 
Makes about 1¼ cups
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.

Crème Fraîche Honey Glaze
 
Makes about ¾ cup
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

 

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