This flavorful Pistachio Babka is made with a soft and billowy enriched dough that wraps around layers of thick, sweet, pistachio filling. Best enjoyed slightly warm, this babka can be eaten for dessert, breakfast, or even when you need a quick snack!
Babka bread is one of those recipes that takes a little bit of TLC, but is so worth the effort. While this recipe is not overly complicated, it does have a few steps and some required rest and rise time. But hey, good things take time, right?!
This pistachio babka uses super soft enriched dough (meaning theres eggs, butter, and sugar in it), which makes it super soft and pull apart super nicely.
The pistachio babka filling is made with a thick pistachio butter rather than a thin pistachio cream, resulting in swirled layers that provide the perfect texture to contrast the soft dough.
This is one you'll want to keep slicing off piece after piece so you can consume every last morsel!
Not a fan of pistachio, but still want babka? I've got you covered! Try my Chocolate Espresso Babka for similar textures, but a different flavor profile. Also, your kitchen will smell amazing while this bakes!
Most ingredients are staples (eggs, flour, butter), but here are a few of note that I'd like to highlight before you dive in!
- Active dry yeast. Be sure the yeast isn't expired! I typically prefer to use active dry yeast rather than instant yeast as you can always tell from the start of the activiation process whether or not the yeast is alive and well.
- Whole milk. This is necessary for the babka dough - and you do need whole milk for the fat.
- Pistachio butter. You can find this in some specialty stores like Whole Foods! However, I actually order mine online. Here's the pistachio butter I used for this recipe.
- Almond extract. I used almond extract rather than pistachio, as many pistachio flavored items are actually just flavored with almond extract! The more you know...
- Food coloring. Note that some pistachio pastes are brighter than others. If you find your filling is too brown in color, just add a touch of green food coloring to bring it to life!
STEP 1: Activate the yeast (and be sure the water is at the correct temperature), then add the remaining dough ingredients (except the butter) and mix to combine with the dough hook of the stand mixer.
STEP 2: Once the dough comes together, turn the mixer to low or medium low and add one tablespoon of butter at a time until completely combined. Increase the mixer speed until the dough pulls away from the sides.
STEP 3: Form the dough into a ball, add to a lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap to rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
Pistachio Babka Filling
Right before you roll out the dough, make the pistachio filling.
STEP 4: Combine the pistachio paste, melted butter, powdered sugar and almond extract and mix to combine.
Add the green food coloring (a bit at a time), if using, to get the desired green color.
Assembling the Babka
STEP 5: Form the dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, then roll it out into a 10x14 inch rectangle.
STEP 6: Spread the pistachio filling evenly over the dough (an offset spatula works best for this), then roll tightly from one of the long ends and pinch the seam closed to seal.
STEP 7: Cut the log in half lengthwise and place the cut sides up. Pinch together the top, then wrap the pieces around each other (keep the cut sides up) and pinch the bottom to seal.
STEP 8: Transfer the dough to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Cover and allow the pistachio babka to rise in a warm place for about an hour until it gets puffy and starts to fill out the pan.
STEP 9: Bake the babka at 375°F/190℃ for 25-30 minutes until golden and a sharp knife insterted goes in easily.
Making the Simple Syrup
Make the simple syrup and allow it to cool while the babka is in the oven.
STEP 10: Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, heating and stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool. Once cool, stir in the almond extract.
STEP 11: As soon as the babka comes out of the oven, brush the simple syrup all over the top of the loaf, getting into to all of the nooks, crannies, and edges.
Allow the babka to cool in the pan, then remove and slice.
If you'd like to add some extra pizzaz to your pistachio babka, you can expirement with adding a bit of the following flavors:
- white chocolate
Storing and Freezing
Store the baked babka tightly covered at room temperature for 3 days.
The babka can also be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, foil, then added to a sealed container or zip top bag and frozen for 3 months. Unwrap and thaw at room temperature.
Is babka a dessert or breakfast?
Babka is traditionally a dessert recipe, meant to be enjoyed after a holiday dinner in Jewish households. However, it can be enjoyed at any time!What kind of bread is babka?
Babka is made with an enriched dough, most similar to brioche bread.
Other recipes to try
- Chocolate Espresso Babka
- Cranberry Orange Rolls
- Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 50g
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup whole milk warmed to 110℉ (60ml)
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour + extra 1/4 cup 270-300g
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into tablespoon pieces (85g)
- 1/2 cup pistachio paste 150g
- 1/4 cup +2 tablespoons powdered sugar 45g
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (28g)
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- green food coloring
- 1/4 cup water 60ml
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 50g
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Combine one tablespoon of sugar (from the ¼ cup), yeast, and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Once foamy, add the remaining sugar, egg and yolk, flour (2¼ cups), and salt
- Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed until it comes together into a rough ball.
- Turn the speed one click lower, then add 1 tablespoon of the softened butter at a time. Wait to add the next piece of butter until the prior piece is mostly incorporated.
- Mix on medium high speed until the dough is smooth, scraping down the sides and bottoms a few times. If the dough hasn't come together, increase the speed and keep mixing.
- When it’s ready, the dough should completely be pulled away from the sides and mostly or fully off of the bottom. If a bit is still sticking to the bottom of the bowl, that's ok. However, if it's very sticky, add an additional tablespoon of flour at a time until it mostly removes itself. The dough will be soft and supple when it’s ready.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rest in a warm location for about 30 minutes.
- Right before rolling out the dough, make the pistachio filling.
- Add the pistachio paste, powdered sugar, melted butter, almond extract, and a touch of green food coloring to a bowl and mix well to combine. Add more food coloring, until the desired color is reached.
- Prepare a standard loaf pan with a strip of parchment paper overhangs and set aside.
- Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands, then roll the dough out into a 10x14 inch rectangle. Use a bench scraper to keep the dough in a rectangle shape.
- Once rolled out, spread the filling evenly over the dough with an offset spatula, taking it to the edges.
- Starting from one of the long edges, tightly and evenly roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seam together to seal, then turn and place the seam side on the counter. Gently push the dough inwards from each side, just to re-compact the log a bit.
- Cut the entire log in half lengthwise and place each piece in line with each other so the filling side is up. Pinch the top edges together, then, keeping the cut sides up, twist each piece of dough around each other as many times as possible. Pinch together the bottom pieces to seal.
- Place the dough in the prepared loaf pan. If it's too long to fit in, just tuck one of the edges next to it like an “s”.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a slightly warm location for about 1 hour until the dough puffs up and starts to fill out the pan a bit. If your kitchen is rather cold, try another room in the house, or allow it to rise in a closed oven (no heat) with just the light on.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F/190℃, uncover the loaf, and bake for 25-30 minutes in the middle rack. The babks is done when you can insert a sharp knife and it has little resistance. If it still feels at all stretchy or doughy when you poke it in, allow it to bake for another 3-5 minutes and check again.
- As soon as the babka goes into the oven, make the simple syrup. Add the water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, then cool completely. Stir in the almond extract once cool.
- As soon as the babka comes out of the oven, brush or spoon the simple syrup over the top, getting every nook, cranny, and edge, until it’s gone. It may feel like too much syrup, but it’s not! Cool in the pan, then slice and enjoy.
- Store the loaf, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for 3 days. Freeze (wrapped in plastic wrap, foil, and in a ziplock bag) for up to 3 months.
- If the yeast does not get foamy after 5 minutes, start again (checking yeast expiration and milk temperature).
- It is crucial to properly measure your flour for this recipe. A scale is recommended.
- To start, the dough will look dry, crumbly and shaggy. After adding the butter, it will begin to moisten. It will start to come together on medium to medium-high speed. Then, you will start to hear it slapping the bowl and pulling off the sides. It will then become soft, will have pulled completely off the sides and mostly off of the bottom. If a small amount is still adhering to the bottom, that’s fine.
- Note pistachio extract can also be used. Almond extract is a common extract found in most pistachio baked goods, however, and is often easier to source.