Pecan Pie Babka

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  2 loaves
Prep Time:  50 minutes Rising Time for Dough:  4 hours 45 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour

Pecan Pie Babka

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll? Maybe not, but it’s a little but Old World Jewish and a whole lotta Southern sunshine packed into this pecan-studded, butter-rich indulgence. The dough is so rich that it take almost twice as long to proof, so factor that into your prep time; allow 3 hours and 45 minutes for the dough to rise. It’s a great Sunday morning project.

Ingredients

Babka Dough:

2 tablespoons (22 grams) active dry yeast

¾ cup warm water, divided (see Kitchen Tip)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (222 grams) light brown sugar, divided

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (390 grams), plus more for dusting

1½ cups bread flour (204 grams)

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup (1½ sticks/177 grams/12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 egg

1 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

 

Pasty Pecan Filling:

2 cups toasted  pecans (see Kitchen Tip)

1 cup (2 sticks/227 grams/16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup cane syrup

2 cups dark brown sugar

Seeds of 2 vanilla bean pods (see Kitchen Tip)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

 

Sprinkle Filling:

2 cups toasted  pecans (see Kitchen Tip)

2 tablespoons roasted ground cinnamon

¼ cup (41 grams) turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or granulated sugar (52 grams), divided

 

Egg wash:

1 large egg

2 teaspoons water

 

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, ¼ cup warm water, and 1 teaspoon light brown sugar and mix at low speed just until blended. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until foamy. (If you are using a handheld mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl.)
  2. Sift the flours and salt into a mixing bowl or onto a sheet or parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining ¼ cup water, the remaining brown sugar, and the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the butter, a few teaspoons at a time, and mix until combined. Add the yogurt, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla bean paste and mix until well combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes to form a moist, dense dough.
  4. Transfer the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, place in a warm spot, and let rise at room temperature for about 3 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pasty pecan filling: Pour 2 cups of the pecans into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the butter, cane syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla seeds and pulse until completely blended into a lumpy paste. Set aside.
  6. Make the sprinkle filling: Place the remaining 2 cups of pecans into a mixing bowl, add the cinnamon and turbinado sugar and stir to combine. Set aside.
  7. Lightly flour a work surface. Spray 2 loaf pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray. When the dough has risen, divide it into 2 sections (about 275 grams each). Place one on the floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle, about 12 by 20 inches. Spread it with the pasty pecan filling. Place the other rectangle of dough on top. Scatter the sprinkle filling mixture evenly over the top. Roll up, jelly roll–style, and cut in half in the center. Shape each portion so it will fit in the prepared loaf pans. Place each into a prepared pan, tucking it in as necessary to make it fit (any excess should be tucked under, for the best-looking result). Cover with kitchen towels and let rest for 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the egg wash by beating the egg lightly with the water in a small bowl.
  9. With a pastry brush, brush the loaves with the egg wash. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the babkas are  a dark golden brown. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Kitchen Tips

  1. To prepare a vanilla bean pod, slit it lengthwise with a sharp knife, and scrape out the seeds. The seeds can be added to baked goods, ice creams and many other recipes. The pod can be added to a container of granulated sugar to make vanilla-scented sugar (aka vanilla sugar) or added to liquid infusions.
  2. You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts recipe.
  3. Want individual servings instead? This recipe makes 36 mini (muffin-sized) babka rolls.

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