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A photo of hands holding a slice of white chocolate pistachio babka on a white plate.

White Chocolate Pistachio Babka Recipe

yield: 2 (9-inch) loaves
Prep Time: 20 mins
Work Time: 50 mins
Bake Time: 40 mins
5 from 2 votes
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Ingredients

For the Babka Dough

  • 2 cups (9 ounces or 255 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (8.5 ounces or 241 grams) cake flour
  • cup (2.35 ounces or 67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) whole milk, warmed to between 120°F to 130°F
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the White Chocolate and Pistachio Filling

  • 1 cup (9.5 ounces or 269 grams) pistachio cream
  • 1 cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) mini white chocolate chips

For the Syrup

  • ¾ cup (5.25 ounces or 149 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) water

Instructions

Day 1: Make the Dough

  • Mix the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flours, sugar, yeast, and salt. Knead on low to combine, about 30 seconds. Press a tall glass into the center of the dry ingredients to make a well.
  • Add the wet ingredients. Pour the milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla into the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until a rough, shaggy dough forms. 
  • Knead the dough. Use the mixer to knead on medium-low for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Proof the dough. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough once or twice into a rough ball. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to remove any excess dough.
    Spray the bowl with cooking spray and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour at room temprature before refrigerating overnight.

Day 2: Assemble And Bake The Babka

  • Prep the dough and pans. Uncover the dough and discard the plastic wrap. Tip it onto a lightly floured counter.
    Spray two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Spray the parchment, too.
  • Roll out the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large rectangle about 10 inches wide and 24 inches long. Press a bench scraper against the sides of the dough to create straight edges.
  • Fill and roll the dough. Use an offset spatula to spread the pistachio cream evenly across the dough. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips evenly on top.
    Starting from one of the long ends, roll the dough into an even log, like you would a burrito or when making cinnamon rolls.
  • Slice the dough. Use a serrated knife to cut the log lengthwise into 2 strands, each about 12 inches long.
    Use the knife to slice the 2 strands in half crosswise so that you have 4 pieces with the filling exposed.
  • Braid the babkas. Position the 4 pieces so that the exposed layers are facing upwards and are parallel next to each other.
    Take 2 of the pieces and gently press together the end of each half. Then, lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time, lift the left half over the right to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Repeat this process until there is no longer any dough left to braid — I think I was only able to cross the dough around 3 times or so. Squeeze together the ends. Congratulations! You just braided one of the babkas.
    Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces to create the second babka.
  • Proof the babkas. Place the braids in the prepared pans and cover the top of the pans with plastic wrap. Set the loaf pans aside in a warm, draft-free spot until the dough is very soft and jiggly to the touch, 2 to 3 hours.
  • Prep the oven. About 30 minutes before baking, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  • Bake the babkas. Bake the buns for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a babka reads 190°F.
  • While the babkas bake, make the simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water for the simple syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high-heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Set the syrup on a wire rack to cool slightly as the babkas finish baking.
  • Soak the babkas. Once the babkas are done, place on a wire rack. Immediately use a pastry brush to brush the top of the babkas with the syrup, waiting until the babka(s) absorb the syrup before using more syrup—it will seem like there's too much syrup, but it will work out, I promise!
  • Serve and store. Cool the soaked babkas in their pans on the wire rack for 1 hour. Serve warm, or at room temperature. The babkas will keep at room temperature, covered loosely in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • Just another friendly reminder to make sure to pay attention to the ingredients and the temperatures they’re listed at in the recipe. Yeast is a living thing and you can easily kill it by mixing it in water that’s too hot. You want the temperature to be similar to that of a warm bath and no more.
  • Also, make sure to use eggs that are at room temperature rather than straight from the fridge. Eggs straight from the fridge will be too cold and lower the temperature of the overall mixture, risking dropping it to a point where the yeast won’t activate properly.
  • The dough recipe also instructs you to use butter that’s melted and cooled slightly. What does that mean? Similar to the water for the recipe, its temperature should feel like a warm bath. When I’m prepping ingredients for this recipe (and others that uses melted and slighted cooled butter), I like to melt the butter first (either over a gentle heat on the stovetop, or short bursts in the microwave to ensure it doesn’t get too hot). Once it’s melted, I prep the rest of the ingredients. That gives it enough time to cool slightly—by the time I’m done prepping the ingredients and ready to start the recipe, it should be at the right temperature!
  • Dough rises fastest and best on warm, humid days. Although you can get the same effect on cold, dry days, it can take two to three times as long to proof dough. This is why professional bakeries have dedicated drawers to proof dough. The proofing drawer mimics the environmental conditions of a warm, humid day. And guess what? You can do that at home too, with the oven you already have. First, if your oven has a pilot light, turn it on—doing so increases tehe temperature inside the oven by about five degrees. Next, bring 2 to 4 cups of water to a boil and pour it into a heatproof glass or ceramic bowl. Place the bowl of water in the oven, then place the dough you’re trying to proof next to it. The warmth from the light and moisture from the steaming, hot water will create a warm, humid environment in the oven to proof the dough faster.
  • Check the babkas 25 minutes into their Bake Time. If they’re browning too quickly, loosely cover each babka with a tent of aluminum foil.
  • It can be hard to tell when the babkas are done baking. The skewer test isn’t as reliable since you might accidentally hit a patch of molten white chocolate chips. So if you have one, I suggest using an instant read thermometer to check for doneness! The center of each babka should read 190°F.