Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pistachio Babka

What I love about living in the South is the mild winters; what I hate is when we do get snow or ice, there isn't sufficient equipment to get all the roads clear!  We only got 2 inches yesterday, but with the layer of ice underneath and now the freezing temperatures, we're pretty much housebound!
Well, I'm a gal who has lived through tougher winters in Massachusetts and Connecticut, so when it snows...I bake!

Yesterday, I tackled making Babka.  Do you recall the Seinfeld episode where he and Elaine are standing in line at a bakery to buy a Chocolate Babka?  It's priceless.
Babka is a yeasted, double twisted breaded and chocolate is traditional, but I decided to try a recipe from  Bake from Scratch magazine for Pistachio Babka.  In the Seinfeld episode, they miss out on buying a chocolate babka and have to settle for a Cinnamon-Pecan filled one, which Elaine thinks is the lesser version, but Jerry disagrees.  No fear, I will give you the recipes for not only the Pistachio I made, but for a Chocolate and Cinnamon-Pecan filled Babka to impress your family.

Pistachio Babka
Pistachio Paste:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup toasted pistachios
1/4 cup almond flour
3 T vegetable oil

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.  In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water until it registers 240F-degrees on a candy thermometer.  In a small bowl, place pistachios, then pour the hot syrup over them, stirring to coat..  Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

I used my VitaMix, but you can use a food processor to combine the candied pistachios with the almond flour and process until finely ground, about 2 minutes.
With the blender or processor running, add the oil, 1 T at a time to pace a smooth thick paste, 8 to 10 minutes.

Shape into a log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  It will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month or 6 months in the freezer.

6 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 T active dry yeast
1 T orange zest
4 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 T Kosher salt

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest and mix slightly.  With mixer on low speed, add eggs, milk and vanilla.  Beat until mixture comes together, 2 to 3 minutes.  If the mixture remains too dry and crumbly, add more milk, 1 T at a time. (I did!)
With the mixer on low speed, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Add salt, beating just until combined, about 3 minutes.  Increase speed to medium and beat until a smooth and elastic dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  (If the dough does not pull away from the bowl, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.)
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl, turning to grease the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.  After dough has risen, refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Alternatively, the dough can be made one day in advance and the entire rise may take place in the refrigerator overnight.
While the dough is rising...make the filling of your choice.  Each filling makes enough for 2 loaves.

Pistachio Filling:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup + 2T King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 cup Pistachio Paste ( you can also buy it pre-made through King Arthur Flour)
1/2 cup finely ground Pistachios

In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed for 4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides as needed with a rubber spatula.  Whisk the almond flour and salt.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture until combined.  Add the Pistachio Paste and pistachios and beat just until combined.

Chocolate Filling:
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup (12 T) unsalted butter
3/4 cup confectioners' (icing) sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Let cool to room temperature before using.

Cinnamon-Pecan Filling:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 T ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped pecans

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg at medium speed until creaming, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed--3 to 4 minutes.  Fold in the chopped pecans.

Assemble the loaves:
Divide the dough in half.  On a heavily floured surface, roll half the dough into a 12" x 18 " rectangle.

Egg Wash: 1 large egg and 1 T water.  Brush edges with the egg wash.  Spread the desired filling, leaving a 1-inch border on long sides of dough.
Starting at one long side, roll up dough, jelly-roll style, and press edges to seal.  Using a sharp chef's knife, cut roll in half lengthwise.  Carefully twist dough pieces around each other and place in a 8" x 4" loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with melted butter and lined with parchment paper.

Cover the tops of the loaves with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to double, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees and bake the risen loaves for 30 minutes.  Cover with foil, and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes our clean, about 25 to 30 minutes more.

While Babka bakes, prepare Simple Syrup.
Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolves.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Pour Simple Syrup over warm loaves while still in pans.  Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pistachio is my hubby's favorite flavor, but next time, I'm doing Chocolate!  Enjoy!


  1. I love all 3 fillings! They must have tasted amazing, Susan.

    1. It was and my hubby said that's what he wanted for breakfast...just a slice of Babka!

  2. p.s when should I add in butter? Didn't see it in the direction.

    1. Shoot! I let that slip, but I've edited it now.

  3. Hum, I could use my Italian pistachio paste? Love babka. Love Seinfeld. Very beautiful loaves! We're very stormy here this weekend with projections of flooding. I'm on high ground, but still baking. :) Glad you're back on FB - I've missed you, my friend! lv, me

    1. I missed my friends; decided crawling in a hole wouldn't make it better! Stay safe😘

  4. That looks amazing! I've always loved making special breads and now that I can't eat sugar, I look for recipes I can use. Hope you are warm and snug inside today Sis! Hugs, Diane

  5. Just found your blog and have been perusing your posts. Who eats all those baked goods? I'm trying to be more mindful of what I eat in 2017 but will try some of your recipes and share with the neighbors!

    1. I give a lot away--my dentist, doctors, FedEx guys, Pest Service guy, etc:-)

  6. Oh my, I think you may need help eating that, Do you need taste testers?
    Blessings, Rox

  7. Oh goodness, now I want Babka! What beautiful baked loaves, Susan! xoxo ♥

  8. I always make cinnamon babka. Unlike Elaine, I don't think cinnamon babka is inferior to chocolate! I might talk myself into trying pistachio. But chocolate? Never. IT is "the lesser babka" in my book! :D

  9. I miss Seinfeld. I have never had babka. I may have to try it. That may be hard for me as it looks like there is some patience involved.

    1. Not hard--just time consuming, but when you're stuck indoors, it's a perfect bread to bake!

  10. I'm with your husband!!! bring on the nuts.
    stamping sue

  11. How gorgeous and yummy looking Susan! And yes...I loved that Seinfeld episode! You are SO impressive as a baker....enjoy and have a wonderful week!