I have something really pretty and really festive for us today. I hope it doesn’t send you running for the hills. When recipe hybrids are good — think pretzel croissants (we miss you, City Bakery), cronuts, donut-looking cakes, donut-tasting muffins, brownie cookies, and pretty much everything on one of my favorite wildly creative cooking blogs — it’s usually because the two desserts that are mashed up have more in common than just cleverness, elements in each that make each other better.
It was the honey syrup that convinced me that babka-meets-baklava could clear this hurdle. Syrupy finishes are common in desserts from across the Middle East and Levant. It’s the finishing soak in baklava’s crispy baked phyllo and chopped nuts layers, pulling them together. It’s the finishing, shiny soak in the kranz-style babkas popularized by Ottolenghi. And it’s what makes this buttery, nutty, braided sweet bread wreath sweet glossy perfection, and deeply baklava-like.
I first spied a baklava sweet bread on the gorgeous baking blog Sprinkles Bakes in 2014. There, it’s a pull-apart bread. But I always envisioned it as a babka, and one you’d make for a festive weekend meal, and with a lot of tweaking (some for structure, some to taste) it’s even better than I imagined. Here is where I tell you that it’s not nearly as much work as those fanned and woven layers would make it seem, and you will indeed run for the hills this time, but but but I promise, it’s also really hard to mess up, and I do try my best.
Most importantly, though: I hope it makes your home smell amazing. I hope it gives you an excuse to take a little break in the kitchen if you need it. And I hope you get to enjoy it with your favorite people.
One year ago: Dutch Apple Pie
Two years ago: Homemade Irish Cream
Three years ago: Eggnog Waffles, The Browniest Cookies and Gingerbread Layer Cake
Four years ago: Jelly Doughnuts, Endives with Oranges and Almonds, and Deep Dark Gingerbread Waffles
Five years ago: Linzer Torte and Breakfast Slab Pie
Six years ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Seven years ago: Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce and Parsnip Latkes with Horseradish and Dill
Eight years ago: Broiled Mussels and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Nine years ago: Creamed Mushrooms on Chive-Butter Toast and Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce, Why Cookies Spread and Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes
Ten years ago: Sausage-Stuffed Potatoes, Seven-Layer Cookies and Grasshopper Brownies
Eleven years ago: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies
Twelve years ago: Pecan Squares, Boozy Baked French Toast and Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Ciambellone
1.5 Years Ago: Stovetop Americanos, Easy Drop Berry Shortcakes and Zucchini Grilled Cheese
2.5 Years Ago: Corn and Black Bean Weeknight Nachos and Funnel Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Strawberry Cornmeal Griddle Cakes and Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie
4.5 Years Ago: Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake and Limonada de Coco
If you only have active dry yeast, it works fine here. Use the same amount but replace half the milk with water. Warm the water to 110 to 116 degrees (warm to the touch but not hot), stir the yeast into it and set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes, after which it will be slightly foamy. Then continue with as written. I find that active dry yeast doubles faster so keep an eye on the dough, but your experience may vary. (Instant yeast doesn’t need a warm liquid start and can be mixed into cold ingredients, as written below.)
I lightly toasted my nuts (350 degrees on a large tray, 8 minutes, then cooled) before using them here for best crunch and flavor.
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) whole or low-fat milk
- 3 1/2 teaspoons (11 grams) instant yeast
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups (585 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 cups (about 250 grams or 9 ounces) mixed nuts (I use one cup each of pistachios and walnuts)
- Finely grated zest of half a lemon or orange
- A few pinches of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rose water or orange flower water (optional, to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and/or cardamom (optional)
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup (250 grams) honey, any kind you like
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) water
- Pinch of sea salt
Meanwhile, make the fillings: Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor combine the nuts, salt, vanilla, zest, and any other flavorings you plan to use until finely chopped but not like a powder or meal (think: couscous, or use my photos above as guidance). Set aside.
Prepare pan(s): Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans (although slightly larger or smaller will work here too) or one tube pan with butter or nonstick spray, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle or donut-shaped ring of parchment paper for extra security.
Assemble babka(s): On a large, well-floured counter, roll out dough until it is about 24 inches wide (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 12 to 14 inches. Dab last 1/2-inch (the edge furthest away from you) with water. Brush remainder of dough with melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar. Set aside 2 tablespoons of ground nuts and sprinkle the remainder over the cinnamon-sugar. Roll the dough up with the filling away from you into a long, tight tube. Seal the end to the roll as best as you can.
Let’s briefly have a side chat about shaping your babka(s): If you’re making two separate loaves, go ahead and cut this tube in two even lengths now. If you’re making a ring-shaped single babka, you can do this with one long twist or in two shorter ones. The former scared me a little so I divided mine in half. If you think you’re up for it, go for a single rope. (If it gets pesky, you can always lop it in half later, before you fit it in.)
I find it much easier to slice this roll neatly in half by transferring it to a large, lightly floured tray (bending it into a U-shape is fine if you’re trying to keep it in a single rope) and freezing it for 10 to 15 minutes, until firmer to the touch.
Shape your babka(s): Trim last 1/2-inch off each end of log. Gently saw the log(s) in half lengthwise (I use a long serrated knife) and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing up (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared pan or pans. (An extra spatula or set of hands can make this lifting easier.) If you find it too pesky to make the single ring with one twisted rope, you can do it in two pieces, as I did, doing your best to tuck and twist the ends around each other.
I know you won’t believe me, but even if it looks like a total mess right now, even if your twists do not fill the pan, the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it is baked and will also look gorgeous once baked and glossy. It’s impossible to make this look ugly; I honestly tried my best and failed.
Let proof again: Cover the pan(s) with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
Heat your oven: To 350°F.
Bake babka(s): Sprinkle babka(s) with reserved nut mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the tops are a deep golden brown. Baking times will vary due to size and number of twists. There are two ways to check for doneness: 1. The internal temperature will reach 185°F. 2. A skewer inserted into an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with damp dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil, but I don’t expect this to be necessary here.
While babka(s) are baking, make syrup: Combine honey, water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by 1/3 (can eyeball it). Pour in a spouted bowl, if you have one, or just have a spoon and pastry brush nearby. As soon as the babka(s) leave the oven, pour and brush all the syrup over babka(s) — or leave a 1/4 cup behind for serving. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and truly like baklava.
Let cool until lukewarm, then loosen babka(s) from sides of pans with a knife and transfer to a serving plate, patting yourself on the back for putting parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and making this easier. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.
Store babkas: At room temperature for 3 days, or up to a week in the fridge, and a month or longer, triple-wrapped, in the freezer. I find most babkas not as great on the second and third days, but this recipe was the exception. Day three, currently, might be our favorite so far.
175 comments on baklava babka
Other than dividing an egg, any reason why a half recipe, baked in one loaf pan, wouldn’t work?
Make two and freeze one for later!
I made this as a half recipe (one loaf) and it turned out fine! On the roll step, I rolled it to about 12″ wide (rather than 24″) to get enough rolls in on half the dough.
I love how much detail there is before the recipe about how to make and adapt it. Some people’s recipes just aren’t clear enough for the lay person.
Tried this today. The idea and flavors are excellent, but this dough recipe is horrible. Like another commenter said, it never came together when kneading, didn’t rise much, and ended up super dense and doughy. I will be trying this recipe again with a proper babka dough instead.
I followed the dough recipe exactly and it came together wonderfully. Rose within an hour, and was super easy to work with. I do always proof my yeast first, even if not specified by the recipe.
Same thing happened to me. The dough is more like a really thick pudding. I have gone over the recipe a dozen times and weighed all my ingredients and can’t figure out where I went wrong!
This is really obvious (and maybe I just missed it) but I don’t see the step telling you to actually put it in the pan :)
This looks amazing! I always need new awesome sweet bread ideas.
Hi Chelsea, It’s under “shape your babka”, 2/3s down in the first paragraph.
This stopped me in my tracks – it’s absolutely stunning, Deb.
Thank you. :)
any suggested fillings as an alternative to nuts. looks delicious!!
Poppyseed or sesame seeds might work. Peanuts instead of tree nuts? My mom makes baklava with pecans & walnuts, sometimes with almonds also.
Make the chocolate babka instead!
My husband hates honey, but I’m thinking I could pull this off with a walnut/almond mixture and maple syrup in place of the honey…
Re: your wobbly cart on your IG story – you may just need to tighten the bolts/screws/whatever is holding it together – hopefully you don’t need a new one!
I do need to tighten everything. But also it’s just junky. (I’ve already replaced it once, a couple years ago.)
Dumb question… do you plate it right side up or upside down (like with a bundt)? If it’s right side up, what’s the best way to get it from point a to point b given all the syrup stickiness? Thanks!!
I am using a tube, not a bundt, so I don’t invert it, i.e. I plate it the way it bakes.
So pretty!! I am tempted to buy a tube pan but not really practical as I mostly bake for just me … still – what a great thought to shape it like that!
I just bought one for a whopping $9.99 at HomeGoods. It looks decent – let’s see how it works!
I improvised … used a springform pan and wadded foil into a ball for the “tube” :) Not so much the $$ but storage. Still, we have a new Home Goods, so thanks for the info!
Is this possible without a stand mixer?
I’ve made the chocolate babka many times without a stand mixer. You just have to be patient and strong.
Yes, you can. It’s a lot of kneading and the dough is sticky and messy but please resist adding more flour (will make things tough and dry), just scrape up whatever sticks. It can be done.
I wondered the same thing, no stand mixer and my hands aren’t as strong as they used to be. So I Googled kneading dough in a food processor and I’ll try that.
Obviously it won’t need 5-7 minutes, but I’m thinking maybe half or 3 minutes.
Do you think that might work?
Really excited to try this.
I just took this out of the oven and WOW – it does not disappoint! The look, the smell, it’s AMAZING. I don’t think I’ve ever made a SK recipe the minute it was posted, but this was irresistible. And I’m thinking baklava babka french toast tomorrow!!!
Oh you genius with the French toast! I hope it turns out as well as it does in my head!
Wow! Glad you got through the recipe so quickly.
This looks amazing!
If rosewater is not your thing but you have access to it, orange flower water is amazing in the syrup. Gives the special, floral notes with a more citrus aroma than the soap/perfume associations rose can have. My grandmother used it in her baklava-like almond paste cookies called cigars.
Thank you — I was drawing a blank trying to think of it. Will add this suggestion.
My baklava has half a cup of orange juice in with the honey plus more sugar, so I just substituted some water with orange juice.
It’s in the oven right now! If I hadn’t made the chocolate version an unaccountably large number of times, I’d be nervous at how ugly it looks. But you’re right; it always turns out gorgeous! Thanks for the Sunday project!
I made this today and it’s delicious! Could not resist a Saturday baking project that looked this incredible. Mine took closer to an hour to bake all the way through in a tube pan, but I kept checking the internal temp as per your suggestion.
Thanks Deb, and Happy Holidays!
Yes, mine took nearly an hour too (also in a tube pan). I’m still waiting to taste the finished product and hoping I got it right, but at 40 minutes it was definitely still raw inside.
I’ve had that sprinkle bakes pull apart bread bookmarked for years. Every holiday since I left the East Coast I look at it (bc I miss fresh baklava). Every holiday I’m swamped and go for something easier. This holiday I’m on maternity leave and have free time but am forced to be soy/dairy free bc of my baby. SO sad. So, so sad.
You could still make it, but with dairy alternative milk and butter. That’s what I do with all my baking. I find a lot of spreads have a strong taste that I’m not so keen on, but if you can get a dairy free baking block (like Stork in the UK) or make your own butter (not as hard as it sounds) you’ll be fine. Also as this is but based, almond milk or hazelnut milk could be great!
Nut based not but based… Doh
I had to be dairy and soy free for 8 months for my little one, too. I found that coconut oil worked well in place of butter. Almond milk works for a low-fat milk replacement, and canned coconut milk works quite well in most recipes in place of cream or whole milk. You could totally try it!
Hi Deb, this sounds just great we love Baklava, but normaly it is too sweet. I will try it after Christmas. I live in Germany and love to travel, cook, and bake.
Great Blog thanks for the recpies. Merrry Christmas and a Happy new year.
This is now my Christmas Eve bake, and if not Christmas Eve, will be Boxing Day. Thank you so much for this inspiration, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!
Thank you for the great recipe, Deb!
I’ve never cooked Baklava Babka yet. But I think this is a delicious dessert and I will definitely make this in the nearest future and will tell you about the results!
This is absolutely delicious! I was debating making it because of the number of steps, but I’m so glad I did! I used a mixture of walnuts, pistachios, orange zest and cardamom for the filling. I’m already dreading when it will be all gone…
Happy holidays to you and your adorable family!!!! xoxo
Now I am kind of sad that I just made Molly Yeh’s amazing lemon olive oil cranberry cake for Christmas Eve – but only kind of because it is good – and thankfully my birthday is on the 27th so I will make this beauty here very, very soon. Looking forward to it.
Another recommendation for (often) great food mash-ups: thefoodinmybeard.com
Check out his Pieroganoff. (Not an add, just really like the site). And, finally, what a colorful, beautiful photo of your family! And that is all. Thank you.
Oh, my … I looked at the Pieroganoff recipe, plus a few more … some fun mash-ups there!
Could you shape it into the loaf pans, keep in the fridge overnight and bake in the AM? Or would it not rise and fill the pan as others have commented
Greetings all~ perhaps a silly question, but looking for an answer never-the-less. Am new to baking…can a spring form pan be used in place of a tube pan? It does have its own tubish thingie…
I used a springform pan. Mine does not have a tube, but I improvised by wadding up foil into a ball. I think I know the kind of tube-springform you are talking about and it should be fine!
Hi! Do you recommend this base dough recipe for babka or the other dough recipe (‘better chocolate babka’) on your website? Thanks so much! :)
What an awesome-looking recipe! Can’t wait to try it. It reminds me of potica, which is Czechoslovakian nut bread. Could be another fun recipe to try!
Sub-comment from you says to be glad you used parchment…. how do you get it cut properly for a tube pan?! And do you only use parchment on the bottom, and nothing (as in no butter or spray) on the sides? I must confess I only watched the video- I didn’t read the recipe thoroughly, so please forgive me if you explain it in detail therein. (Just wanted to say “therein”). Happy holidays and thank you for your humor and recipes. xo
You can trace a tube pan with pencil on a piece of parchment paper and then cut out the ring to fit into the bottom of the pan. I did spray the inside of my pan as well (it also helps the paper stay down) – I don’t think it’s essential, but why worry that your babka will get stuck inside with all that honey syrup after all your hard work!
I made this immediately upon seeing the recipe, and it is amazing! I only had one package of (active dry) yeast in the house and wasn’t going to wait to buy more, so I only made one rectangular loaf (but used the full package, rather than measuring out 1.75 tsp). I used a mix of walnuts and pecans (again, whatever was in my house) and orange zest, and the orange zest has a huge impact on the aroma (in a divine way). It took about 42-ish minutes to bake – at 30 minutes there was visible raw dough still in the center. I didn’t trim off as much as she recommends at the ends, so as a result my first slice wasn’t very swirly inside, but the swirls became more pronounced once I kept cutting (and eating)!
I am inspired to make this for Christmas Day brunch. If I make everything the night before, up to the point of rolled out and assembled in pan ….do you think I can stick it in fridge after it rises the second time and then bake it next morning after it comes to room temp?
Where can I buy the rose water or orange rise water?
You can find those at any Middle Eastern grocery store.
I found rose water at sur la table, if you happen to have one nearby.
Please send me receipt for babka baklava that I can print
I wish you had a print button on your receipes
Smitten Kitchen recipes have always had an option to print. If you scroll down to the very end, above the “like this post? Subscribe for more” section is a section that says “do more” with icons to print, email, or share on FB etc. The printer icon always works for me on both laptop and phone.
Alright, this looks like way too much fun not to make. I’m going to go crazy and make this for the neighbors, which means I need 3-6 “small” ones. Of course, the store was out of mini loaf pans, so I’m going to try mini rounds. I’ll report back about how much I curse myself!
Alright – it worked! I made everything as stated, but instead of making one ring or 2 loafs, i took about a twist and a half, and formed it into the small mini rounds. I used an instant read thermometer to figure out baking time (that is brilliant by the way! As someone who is always nervous that I underbake everything, having a temperature to aim for was perfect!) So far, the neighbors are happy. Thank you!
Can I use my sourdough starter? If so, how?
I’m using sourdough starter and although I’m in the middle of the process I feel pretty confident as I make other sweet dough recipes with my starter and a brioche that is very similar to this dough. So, here’s what I did/am doing:
Last night (Sunday), I mixed a “sweet stiff starter” : 90 grams white flour, 20 g brown sugar, 25 g active (fed) starter, 40 grams water. This morning, it was nice and bubbly so I went on. I backed out the flour, liquid, sugar amounts from the starter so the remainder of the ingredients: 482 grams flour, 130 grams sugar, 1/2 cup milk and I never buy unsalted butter so I backed off the salt to a pinch as well. I mixed all except the butter, then let things rest for an hour, added the butter, mixed (kneaded in stand mixer) and then put the dough in the frig. My plan is to take it out about 6 p.m., let it warm and about 8 roll, fill and shape. Then back in the frig and I will bake direct from the frig in the morning. The timing of the above is how I do cinnamon rolls and other cinnamon roll type things with this kind of dough. I think it would work just as well to do an “all room temp” bulk, shape and rise but I like the above method and it allows and early morning bake.
I didn’t mention the eggs and vanilla, but just so no confusion if anyone goes this way … no change in those amounts :)
if making this tomorrow for Christmas morning, at what point would you stop the prep, after shaping and before the last rise and then pull it out again to rise one more time before baking?
I’m just baking them today, wrapping them after they’re cool, and resting over night.
ha, fair enough!
For some reason I had some trouble with this dough coming together like it does with the dough for your chocolate babka recipe? Any reason that dough couldn’t be used in place of this since I’m incompetent with this recipe tonight???
Yes!!! Will definitely be making this to add to our baklava game! :) Looks delicious Deb. Thanks for sharing.
this was a total HIT! It is not as difficult as it seems, and if you have an afternoon free its totally achievable with not too much hands on time (excpet if you’re shelling the pistachios yourself, what an ordeal)! It’s so intricate and incredible looking and tastes so so so so SO amazing. Followed the recipe exactly and I had to bake mine for quite a bit longer (made it in two loaf pans). They both ended up needing 50 minutes or so. Covered them with aluminum foil at the 30 minute mark.
ooh, looks really nice and i bet it tastes very good :)
I think I’m gonna try this out, many thanks for the recipe and merry christmas!
I’m in the middle of making this (currently waiting for the oven to preheat), but wanted to mention that 1/3 cup of melted butter seemed like way more than I needed for brushing, so I didn’t use all of it. Maybe only half? (And I felt like I was brushing it on pretty generously.) I’m hoping this wasn’t a terrible mistake on my part — any thoughts? Thanks, Deb!
I am SO going to make this!! Just one question — is there any reason why 3/4 c each of honey & water are called for only to reduce it by 1/3 – can’t I just use 1/2 cup each and dispense with the reducing?
I was here and reading comments and know the answer so, although I’m not Deb … the reason for a reduction (sauces and here a syrup) is to thicken whatever and intensify the flavors. The water/some liquid in whatever you are reducing, evaporates and thickens to a more syrupy sauce. And doing it by cooking it down enhances the flavor vs just using less.
the flavor was amazing but it was a little dense and I think that was my fault. It was pretty late when I made this so after placing the twist in the pan I put it in the fridge overnight and then when my husband baked it for me while I was working he didn’t let it warm up and go through the second rise. But would definitely try making this again
I made this last night, and it didn’t rise nearly as much as I thought it would, even after 2+ hours for the first rise. It also took forever to bake and didn’t come close to filling the tube pan. Maybe I just need fresh yeast? I’ve had mine for a while, but mostly I bake 100% sourdough bread when it comes to yeasted items, and the yeast lives in the freezer. It smells fabulous, though! Will cut into it later tonight at a party.
I made this yesterday for Christmas dinner, and while it baked beautifully and smelled delicious, it did come out quite dense. I let it rise in a warm place both times so I’m not sure where I went wrong. Flavor was great, and I’d definitely try making it again when I have a free afternoon, but maybe with a touch less flour, and a more controlled proofing environment. Great recipe otherwise, though!
I made a sourdough (natural leaven) version. I used a sweet, stiff, starter of 90 g flour, 25 g starter, 40 g water and 20 g brown sugar. After the starter was bubbly, I added the remaining ingredients (backing out equivalent amounts of flour, sugar, milk to accommodate what is in the starter). I mixed with a stand mixer, then into the frig for 24 hours. I rolled, filled and shaped per the recipes, let rise at room temp (68F at my house) for an hour and baked. My dough was puffy and so the result looks a bit different – less baklava like, but YUM!! This was so much fun and I’m glad it freezes well as little goes a long way. Oh, mine was 176F at 30 minutes and not very brown. Another 10 minutes and it was 190 and browned nicely. I don’t have a tube pan, but wanted the pretty round so used a springform pan with some foil wadded in the center to act as the tube. Worked well!
I made this a 2nd time … all same as first except reduced sugar by 3 T (dough) and used 100 g of whole wheat pastry flour for equivalent amount of white flour. Still YUM and plenty sweet in spite of less sugar AND the whole wheat. Will try a bit more of WW and another 2 T less sugar next round. I sliced and froze what was not gone/shared by day 3. Those slices were excellent thawed slightly in microwave and/or counter top. I just love this – pretty and delicious and most of the time is wait time vs hands on.
Wow! Just….wow!!! We LOVE baklava at my house, and to turn it into a bread?! Brilliant. This is getting made before the week is out. I have never made a single thing from your site we haven’t all absolutely loved! I refer people here all the time!
Thank you for another amazing recipe to add to my stockpile. :)
Made this for xmas day breakfast. Made the 2 loaf version and gave one loaf to our xmas Eve dinner guests for their breakfast and they were thrilled. Didn’t add the honey syrup and the bread wasn’t dry the first day but was a little dry on boxing Day. Still very good. Held together well and looks amazing. I made the parchment long on the ends to give me something to pull it out of the pan with.
I made this and it is yummy. I added the butter into the nut mix in the food processor by accident. I still brushed the dough with butter but used less. It came out great, took 45 min to cook. Thanks for giving the temperature because the probe was coming out gooey at 180 and it was done if not over done.
This looks amazing! My mom used to make something similar. It’s a Jewish-Hungarian pastry called kindel and it has baking soda in the dough as well as yeast. Whenever she made it, i’d call it hungarian baklava. It was made into a roll and semi sliced while baking and then we broke them apart after baking.
Has anyone tried to make a gluten free version of this?
Made this yesterday and it is a huge hit!
Deb, 1/3 rd cup of butter is 75 grams not 95.
You are correct! Sorry about that, now fixed.
well, YUM. This doesn’t scare me at all – one of my superpowers is yeast breakfast buns and I’ve fiddled with a baklava version (I drizzle it with tahini and honey) but I am totally drawn to your honey syrup concept. Will try these.
Also, I made your petit fours cake for our Christmas feast (from your new cookbook) and it was DIVINE – delicious and beautiful! So impressed.
This looks amazing. I’m so making this!
Rousing Christmas success— have an egg allergy in the house so subbed with aquafaba (9T) with no issues. Needed slightly longer to bake, but that may have been the rental house oven or the over long second rise (toddlers mess with timing!)
I took this Baklava Babka to a Big Fat Greek Christmas. It went down a treat, and is the perfect mash-up of cultures. My only problem is I now have to make one for home consumption!
P.S. I made my dough in a bread machine and left it to rise for about twice the time it would take if it had been made by hand.
This turned out very dense and un-risen for me, but that may have been my fault — I put it in the fridge overnight after shaping it and then took it out about 40 minutes before baking in the morning. I’ve done this successfully with other enriched dough recipes, but maybe it can’t be done with this one? Or did I need to let it sit at room temperature longer before baking? Flavor was great though.
I did the same thing and it also came out too dense for me. I guess this is not a dough you can make ahead of time
For this one, and other buttery doughs (doughs with oil are less problematic, because oil doesn’t harden when cold) I tend to add on an hour of warm-up time before rolling it, or at least get it back to close to room temperature. Then, pick up where you left off, including if it needs more time in that proofing cycle (and hasn’t done it in the fridge).
Would rapid rise yeast work for this? I could not find instant at the store.
I *thought* they were the same but am now questioning what I know. I’d say yes. Just keep an eye on it, in case it is, indeed, more rapid.
Looks like you left out what to do with the lemon zest in the instructions, but just went back and saw in your Instagram story that you put it in with the nut mixture into the food processor. Just figured I’d let you know!
Thanks, now fixed.
I have the dough rising right now, but I’ll say upfront that the weight of flour required was not enough. Normally I use my dough machine but I’m traveling right now. First time using the dough hook on the KitchenAid. If I had not added extra flour, the dough would not have kneaded . 2/3 of it clung to the dough hook and the other 1/3 just sat at the base of the bowl and after several minutes still had not been incorporated into the mass hanging on the hook … and I weighed everything. There is at least a full cup more of flour and it was still sticky, but at least manageable.
Everyone has different conditions …, but I made the recipe by weight except for butter and sugar. I had no issue with mixing (Kenwood mixer 5 quart with dough hook). It was very wet (and loose?), but it came together and kneaded into a cohesive dough. I used a sweet, stiff sourdough starter in lieu of yeast but backed out the amount of flour, sugar and liquid in my starter so my overall totals were exact by weight. Now, method wise, after mixing I put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours vs letting it rise and continuing. Additionally, I make high moisture sourdough and ciabatta frequently so am used to handling wetter doughs. Also, it is not a huge amount of dough, even in my 5 quart bowl.
So, this came together really well. I don’t have a dough hook, but it kneaded together fine (with the help of a pastry scraper at first.) Rises went fine, braided easily. I did two single loaves, and agree baking time was closer to 40-50 min than 30. The other thing is that the second loaf was very dry in <12H, despite wrapping it. It still tasted good, but definitely lost moisture really fast. Suspect that might be due to the extended baking time/5 extra oven door openings to check done-ness. Would make a bomb French toast, though.
Would recommend a) foil covering to protect the top and b) not checking until 40 min, or at least that's what I'm doing next time.
Can you say it three times fast: Boy our buddy Deb bakes the best baklava babka!
I’m in new orleans and it’s almost 12th night. Thinking about making this into a sort of king cake. Would this just spread into a mess on a baking sheet? Do i need a tube pan to get that great round shape?
This looks beautiful and delicious. Thanks for the individual pics of the steps…I need those!! I love baklava but haven’t seen anything like this type of babka with such specific directions, I feel like I could try this. I’m excited to give it a go.
Do you ever use bread flour for babka? Seems good for the structure but don’t want it to be too tough.
I don’t for babka, no. I don’t think it’s necessary.
I made this earlier this week and shared it with friends and family. A couple of friends told me it was the best babka they have ever had, and 6 of us ate almost an entire loaf in one sitting. My dad LOVED IT even though he usually doesn’t like babka or baklava. I will definitely make it again!
One thing I wish there had been more clarity on in the recipe was a rough time estimate of how long it takes the honey syrup to reduce. I had no idea whether it was going to be in the ballpark of 5 minutes or 25 minutes. I was patient and it worked out fine, but it would have been nice for planning ahead.
I agree, a rough estimate would be nice to have!
Deb – If you make the two-loaf version, do you still put the syrup on one that would be eaten the next week and stored in the freezer right out of the oven? I’m so excited to make this!
I had the same question, so I’d love to know if you tried it and what you did!
This looks, and sounds, absolutely amazing ♥
Unfortunately I joined the ranks of commenters who baked up a dense inedible lump :( I know my yeast was good because when the dough refused to rise I did a test of the leftovers in some warm sugar water and it bubbled up immediately! Maybe, even though it’s instant yeast, it needed to be bloomed a while in order to rise well? Bummed to have spent $$$ on rosewater and fancy nuts but that’s the price we pay as home bakers I guess! Now to go make the 1 hour chocolate cake to make myself feel better…
Heading to the market to get the ingredients . Gonna try this tonight.
Made this tonight with a baking friend, and we felt like it somehow missed out on the best things about both babka and baklava… I hadn’t realized how much I valued flakiness / crispiness in baklava until I lost it with babka… And I missed the bitterness that chocolate brings to the babka dough. It was also super sweet — the syrup just stayed on my tounge long after I was done eating… The idea of this seemed like genius, but fell short for me in practice…
It looked and tasted amazing! Just served this baklava babka at a baby shower and the ladies gobbled it right up! Thank you.
When I sliced the dough log in half lengthwise, all the layers just flopped over and unfolded! So very difficult to get it to stay together, even with the 15 minutes In the freezer. I don’t know what my issue is, I weighed all the ingredients. Hopefully it will still turn out ok. Can’t wait to try it.
Ok I’m going to try this asap this looks way too yummy! Thanks for the recipe :)
Oops sorry I accidentally commented elsewhere. But I was wondering if it’s possible to shape the logs in the loaf pans the night before and bake it in the am? Or would it not fill out and be too dense like the other comments have stated?
Please show the video .
There’s a video demo here; just scroll through the circles until you find the one that says baklava babka. It cannot be cross-posted, annoyingly.
Any idea how to make and freeze before baking? I’d love to make this for my mom’s birthday, but don’t want to be busy with it, rather than paying attention to her, when she’s visiting.
Looking forward to making this for my dad, since it combines two of his favorites. When is the right time to freeze before baking, if being made ahead of time?
It is very similar to our Eastern European / Hungarian beigli.
Could I use alomd milk instead of whole or low-fat milk?
I think it would be fine here.
Delicious! Because of the way the nuts/sugar/butter/spices are distributed, you get some of the “goodies” in each bite. That distinguishes this bread from other sweet breads where you may get mostly just the dough in some bites. Perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning. I made half a recipe and am now regretting it!
Should the syrup be hot or cold when poured on top? I know for baklava, it is usually the opposite temperature as the pastry. Also, my syrup took a long time and wasn’t ready when the babka came out. It was like 5 more minutes before I put it on top. Is this a problem?
Yes, it should still be warm. I think a 5-minute wait is fine.
uhhh don’t use a bundt pan for this, y’all :(
This is AWESOME. I made this recipe at least 6 times in two months. Skipped rose water, and added Kahlua and Honey with Cocoa (because im obsessed with coffee flavored things). This Babka tastes even better on day 2-3, so dont worry about serving it warm. This recipe combined with Double Chocolate Banana Bread – made me a religious fan of Deb’s creations.
P.S. Im Russian Orthodox, and we make “Kulich” on Easter, that usually no one wants because its dry, but eats anyway, since its been blessed by Batushka at a church the morning of. My 85 y.o. grandma (who’s pirogi’s are unrivaled in taste) – has put her stamp of approval on using this dough recipe from New York on our Russian “Kulich”. And THAT speaks volumes…
I have this in the oven now so figured I’d share a comment for anyone else baking on Christmas morning. Started the dough yesterday – it took much longer than 90 minutes to rise by even 50% (and I had tested my yeast). I let it sit for 90 min next to a preheating oven and it barely budged. So I cooled the oven off to around 80 degrees and put the bowl inside. It then took another 3 hours to rise to somewhere close to double. I then had to put the dough in the fridge (since it had taken so much longer than expected). When I got home that night, I let it sit out at room temp for about an hour, and then rolled and shaped it, and put it back in the fridge (it was very late by this point). This morning, I let it sit out at room temp for about an hour, and now have it baking in the oven. It’s taking at least 70 minutes to bake – hopefully after this last 10 minutes it will be done! It smells wonderful and I have the honey syrup ready with honey we got from a beekeeper in Greece a few months ago :) So I guess the lesson is use the visual & temperature cues for enriched dough and be patient! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!
Can this Babka be rolled into one spiral, like a challah, or does it need the sides of a tube pan to rise properly? And if I can roll it and bake it without a tube pan, how long would it take in the oven?
I am very upset about this recipe. I followed it to the tee. I used the round pan and the bottom burned. I baked it for 35 minutes in my oven My oven has a thermometer in it. I hate wasting. I was hoping to give it to a friend for Mother’s Day. The rest of the cake is delicious, but it is not presentable because the bottom is black. Very disappointed.
Would it be totally weird to try this with buttermilk instead of milk in the dough? Would that screw up the baking chemistry magic somehow? TIA!
No… but it can make the dough seem more sticky and tender and can sometimes (not always) add rising time.
Delicious recipe (I halved the recipe to make a single loaf)!
This was so delicious (I halved the recipe to make in a single loaf pan)! I had a lot of difficulty keeping the nut filling within the babka spiral, while rolling the babka after sprinkling the butter + cinnamon sugar + nuts. Any tips on what I might change for next time?
I made this! DELICIOUS 10/10 WOULD MAKE AGAIN*. I did it WITHOUT a stand mixer (more on that ordeal below, ha). I followed the directions for substituting active dry yeast for instant in the dough, omitted the orange/rose water, and the cardamom/clove in the filling (none on hand). I opted to hybridize the first dough rise to countertop for an hour and then fridge overnight because I OF COURSE decided I needed to make this starting at 7p. My fridge is super cold so it took a bit longer to bring the dough back to room temp once I removed it from the fridge. I prepped the nut filling the night before including orange zest and vanilla and let it sit out, covered, overnight.
The hand kneading of this dough was…. like trying to keep a hole in the beach scooped out while waves keep crashing into it. Basically I schmeared and scooped and schmeared and scooped and scraped up all the sticky bits until the texture felt “right” (elastic, springy, etc.) I followed Deb’s advice to “resist adding more flour” during hand kneading, and am glad I did- during the rolling out prior to filling I had to add a fair bit of flour into the mix just to keep my rolling pin (wooden, french) from picking up the sticky dough as it rolled.
I opted for the one big loaf in the tube pan- attempted to make it in one section, but quickly found that the sliced tube did NOT want to stay in shape (it kept opening up and losing filling) so I halved the two long lengths, wove the four single pieces into two braided sections, then just glommed the two woven section ends together as I placed them in the pan. You would never know looking at the final product that it started in sections.
Re: filling – I could only find pre-roasted/salted pistachios, so used those plus walnuts, but reduced the salt in the filling to compensate.
*Would make again WITH stand mixer. I’m not in my own kitchen and made do with the equipment on hand. Also would love to incorporate the clove/cardamom into the filling, I think it would enhance.
I made this yesterday having seen some of the other comments about the dough not working out. I stuck to the recipe exactly and it came out wonderfully! I did use active dry yeast and followed Deb’s instruction of replacing half the milk with warm water and blooming the yeast in the water first. I also proofed the dough overnight in the fridge.
It is a wet dough; I was a little worried after I mixed it – it seemed more of a very thick batter vs a dough. After proofing in the fridge it firmed up a little. I found it very easy to roll out thinly – but you do need to use a well floured board because the dough is sticky. I found that freezing the roll was key to being able to slice it correctly – I froze mine about 20 minutes and had no issues with slicing and shaping. I did adjust the second rise to about 55 minutes since the dough was so cold coming out of the freezer.
Also my babka took almost 55 minutes to bake; checking it with a skewer or chopstick, it was easy to see it was still sticky inside.
I was also concerned about soaking the cake with the honey syrup – it did seem like an awful lot! but I did it while the cake was hot as instructed, and it worked out well. The texture was not wet at all, simply a moist not overly sweet cake.
I will definitely make this again!
Hey, this sounds like a great recipe and the product looks so gorgeous. What do you think of using natural coloring to make one half of the log green? Though its a lot more tedious but I wonder how it’d look.
Hi this looks delicious!! I’m gonna try my first babka, I would like to do a traditional chocolate babka, would you recommend me to use this recipe or the better chocolate babka also from your page?
Thanks you so much!!
So, it depends on what your tradition is. If you grew up in the states, especially east coast, and got your babkas from a Jewish deli, you’d want to make this one. If you prefer the krantz, or Israeli-style (no streusel), make this one.
I made it using apple butter which made it a little messy to handle but putting it in the freezer seriously helped at the cutting stage.
It went in to the oven looking…a bit odd, BUT I trusted you and it turned out so beautifully and delicious!
Definitely will make it again and will try out this filling 😊
I’m not sure what I did wrong, but the instant I cut this in half, all the layers flopped open and apart. It did not stay together neatly like it does in this photo. Maybe I didn’t roll it up tight enough? Or freeze long enough? I want to try again because it’s delicious!
Same! It looked fine baked but was too dense and maybe even a little tough?
If anyone needs to make this dairy-free, it turned out beautifully. I used coconut oil in lieu of butter. Also, I only have active dry yeast so I first activated it with warm non-dairy milk before adding to the dry ingredients. I only have one loaf pan, so I followed the assembly directions from the baklava babka recipe and used my Bundt pan. Gorgeous babka and will certainly be making it again!
Oops! Meant to post this on the better chocolate babka recipe!
Amazing thank you
If I want to make a peanut butter babka, should I use the dough from this recipe or the dough from the chocolate babka recipe? Why are the doughs you use for the two recipes different?
The better chocolate is adapted from Ottolenghi. This is my own. This one is a bit simpler to make. I’d use this.
Hi, this looks amazing. Can I put it into the fridge for the night for its second prove in the tin? I’d like it for breakfast and am not sure I can make this happen unless I get up at 4am, but if I could bake from the fridge that would be brilliant. Thank you and happy Christmas
This is a terrific recipe, thank you. But there is one flaw, namely, I would welcome a suggestion as to how best to remove the babka from my tube pan. I succeeded today by lining the bottom and sides of the pan with a parchment sheet and then pulling the sheet and the babka out of the pan. I did not want to invert the babka onto a plate as that might ruin the lovely top. All suggestions gratefully received. And again, thank for a great recipe.
I make your spiced pecan recipe every year to gift to friends and neighbors. This year is no exception, though giving away ten lbs during Covid Christmas may have been a bit over zealous. One great use for the “extras” — I used 2cups in lieu of the pistachios in this recipe!! Try it…you’ll love it.
I’m a new devotee to Smitten Kitchen. This baklava babka is superb. The babka recipe, using melted butter worked terrifically well, though I had to add about a half cup of additional flour to work the dough to an elastic but not too sticky texture. The filling, spilled out everywhere when I cut the roll with scissors. I think I might mix it with some apple jam next time so it stays put better. And I added a tsp of orange blossom liquid to the honey syrup which gave the cake a beautiful fragrance. At 185 the final cake, done in one piece ring in a tube pan, was a little undercooked. Next time, perfection!.
I made this delicious recipe last weekend. It did not disappoint. I pretty much made it as directed, favoring the orange blossom water instead of rose. At the end I opted to make a traditional Aleppian “fragrant dessert syrup”. From 3 cups of sugar, 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of orange blossom water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. (Recipe from Aromas of Aleppo). It basically shellacked the “babklava” and made it a perfect mash up of east and west. Thank you for this recipe!!!
Hi! Could you make this with sourdough starter instead of yeast? Thanks :)
Yes, I think it would be delicious.
This is definitely a PROJECT. It rose well on the counter overnight — for some reason I always have trouble getting things to rise in the fridge. I think I (a) should have increased the quantity of nuts and (b) should have attempted to roll it tighter. As with the newer cinnamon roll babka-esque recipe, I feel like I never get enough twists in for a dramatic photo finish.
I also think the quantity of honey syrup should be increased. I put the rose water in the syrup (I couldn’t find it while making the filling, but then found it while the babka was baking, haha), and I think it worked really well there.
Wonderful recipe, makes me want to try all sorts of babkas!
Amazing! I really appreciated your writing skill. You have written very nicely each and every point is clear regarding this recipe. Thank you for sharing this piece of content.
Looks amazing! Can you leave these in the fridge overnight once assembled and bake in the morning? If so how long would you take it out of the fridge before baking?
Would making this recipe into buns/brioches work well?? I am getting excited by this idea!!! 🤪
Buns from babka/baklava? sure. Sounds great.
We made this and it turned out beautifully (would recommend just watching a video of babka shaping- i feel like unleas you are a vERY verbal person, it will be easier to understand via video.) would make again but would probably double the filling, ours felt quite bready and maybe bc these flavors are more subtle than chocolate or straight up cinnamon sugar. In any case, was delicious, we are all extremely full.
For the syrup, why add water to the honey and then reduce it? Why not just add less water in the first place?
I made this yesterday and it came out…just ok. The flavor is good but the texture is gummy and it seems under-baked. I don’t know if that’s from the syrup or if I didn’t leave it in long enough. I got to 185 so I took it out. I had the same problems as others with my dough not rising even after 2.5 hours and the filling falling out when I cut in half. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying it but next time I think I’d let the dough rise longer and leave it in the oven longer.
I’m curious why this babka has half the butter of the better chocolate babka (in the dough). Thanks.
Is it possible to fully assemble the babka and then chuck it in the fridge before/after (which??) its final prove? (I’m guessing after?) Would you want it to come to room temp before baking?
I made this today, and sadly it just didn’t work for me. The baked babka was dry and somewhat dense, despite being soaked in syrup (some of it ran right out of the bottom of my springform, but not that much). The dough wasn’t that bad to work with– it didn’t rise much, but rolled out quite easily and I managed to do the slicing and twisting without much hassle. But it got very little oven spring, and like I said it wasn’t particularly moist or tasty. Love the filling, but perhaps I’ll try it with the dough from a different recipe next time.
How easy would this be to convert to a Gluten-free babka? I am a celiac and trying to find some good recipes for bread