Babka is a doughy, sweet dessert where cake meets bread. It originated in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe and has now spanned across bakeries and dessert tables around the world. It’s a twisted dough that’s swirled with a variety of delicious fillings from chocolate to Nutella to cinnamon raisin to cookie butter. Here, we’ve slathered our babka dough with baklava-inspired ingredients, like pistachios, orange blossom and cinnamon, making a hybrid babka-baklava, or rather, babklava.
Like many delicious baked goods, this recipe requires quite a bit of resting time between the steps. The end result is a magnificent cake-bread that looks like a work of art, especially when you cut it open. It’s sweet, fragrant, zesty and will certainly be gobbled up by any dessert-enthusiasts. This recipe is made in a stand mixer, if you don’t have access to one, you can use your hands but it will require significant elbow grease.
Make the dough: Place the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, stir using a handheld whisk.
Add the milk, eggs, vanilla and orange zest in a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk to combine.
Place the dough hook on the mixer, turn it to low speed and slowly pour the egg and milk mixture in with the flour. Continue mixing until a dough starts to come together. If the dough is dry and not forming together, add a tablespoon or two of milk. You want the dough to stick together but not be too sticky.
Turn the speed up to medium, add in the salt and then the cubed butter, one cube at a time. Continue mixing for approximately 5-7 minutes until a smooth dough ball forms.
To see if it’s done, you can do the “windowpane” test by taking a piece of dough, stretching it apart until you can see light through it and it doesn’t break. If it fails the test, keep mixing for another minute or two and try again.
Lightly oil a big bowl, place the dough in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and leave out in a warm place for 1 ½ – 2 hours or overnight in the fridge until it doubles in size.
To make the filling, place the walnuts, pistachios, sugar, orange zest, salt, cinnamon and orange blossom in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Then add in the softened butter and blend for about 30 seconds until a slight paste forms.
To assemble, flour a surface and divide the dough equally in two.
Work with one dough ball at a time and roll it out into an approx. 9×17-inch rectangle.
Take half the filling and spoon it all over the dough evenly.
Start from the longer side of the rectangle and roll the dough up into a cylinder, press the end to seal it.
Slice the dough down the middle lengthwise, exposing all the filling layers.
Make an X with the two dough logs.
Twist one side of the babka, then twist the other and pinch the ends.
Place in a loaf pan that’s been lined with parchment paper, cover with a paper towel and allow to proof for 1 ½ – 2 hours until close to doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 35-40 minutes.
While it’s baking, make the simple syrup by combining water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, simmer and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
When the babka comes out of the oven, immediately pour or brush the simple syrup on top. Allow it to cool fully, then gobble it up.