Pistachio Cream Mini Egg Babka
What is Babka?
A Babka is a Polish grandmother. Not what you were expecting? Okay let’s try this again. A Babka is a sweet, rich yeast bread with swirls of filling running throughout. This sweet loaf (also called Krantz Cake) was invented in Poland and is associated with Central and Eastern European Jewish baking traditions.
The most traditional varieties of this pull apart loaf are Chocolate Babka or Cinnamon Babka with either struesel or poppy seed toppings. However, if you talk to Jerry Seinfeld, he’ll tell you that Cinnamon Babka is the ‘lesser babka’.
Creative Ways to Babka
During the last decade, this braided brioche loaf has increased in popularity largely due to popular bakeries in New York and San Francisco. Many interesting flavour varieties have surfaced, including savoury varieties with za’atar and goat cheese, cheese, buffalo chicken, and Everything Bagel. Speaking of Everything Bagel seasoning, Trader Joe’s has it’s own very popular chocolate filling version.
My Twist on Babka
Chocolate or cinnamon varieties are the most traditional of Babka’s, but in the last few years there’s been a bit of an explosion in flavour experimentation. I fell in love with Pistachio Cream around Christmas time when I used it to fill chocolate chip thumbprint cookies.
It is very rich and sweet, just like nutella but it’s in pistachio form instead of hazelnut. Since it was near Easter and there were still mini eggs left (shocking), I added them as well. You are welcome to omit them from this recipe, if you like.
How to Make an Impressive Babka
If you can make cinnamon buns, you can make babka. It’s a bit time consuming, but the final product is so very worth it. Firstly, mix up the rich dough in a mixer. Then, once the dough has been proved, gently roll the dough out into a large rectangle and spread the pistachio cream. Tightly roll it up as you would for cinnamon buns and pinch those ends so that they seal together.
Now, this is where making babka differs from the cinnamon bun process. Slice the rolled dough lengthwise so that there are two mirroring halves of layered dough. Next, carefully twist the two halves together (I did 3 twists) and condense them together so that they fit into the lined 9 x 5 loaf pan.
Low Down on the Dough
This dough is super sticky and buttery. The best way to mix it was by using a stand mixer for the first half of kneading and leaving out the last half cup of flour. Turn the dough out to knead it by hand, and sprinkle it every so often with a bit of flour so that it doesn’t get sticky/greasy during kneading.
Prove the dough in a warm oven, taking care not to have it too warm because the butter will melt easily, making the dough too greasy. Just leaving the oven light on or placing in a draft free space is enough for the proofing stages.
How to Store Your Delicious Babka
Your creation will be fine in an airtight container on the counter for a few days. If you double the recipe or need to freeze the loaf, wrap it in plastic, then freeze it for 2-3 months.
How to Re-warm Babka
The day after baking, re-warm your babka by slicing then toasting it. To re-heat a frozen loaf, thaw it (while still wrapped up) at room temperature for a few hours. Loosely tent it with foil and warm it in a 325 F oven for around 20 minutes or until it’s warm all the way through.
How to Serve Leftover Babka
Babka is best when it’s still slightly warm from the oven. However, if you have leftovers, here are some fun ways to use it up:
- Slice it up and make Babka French Toast.
- Tear it up and use it to make Babka Bread Pudding and serve it with Chocolate Sauce or Custard.
- Deep fry it and serve with Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce.
I never grew up with Babka, but I do know that I fell in love with it the minute I saw one for the first time. With all those contrasting layers of chocolate (or cinnamon) a Babka is always an impressive sight to behold. I hope you enjoy making and eating my version of babka as much as I did.