Pumpkin Chocolate Babka

10/29/2019 09:16:00 PM

Pumpkin chocolate babka! We've got a fluffy pumpkin bread, swirled with a decadent chocolate and pecan filling and lots of delicious warming pumpkin spices. It looks so impressive and is not too hard to make. It's a total treat!

Pumpkin chocolate babka
Pumpkin Chocolate Babka

Ok, so you may remember that I am totally into the pumpkin baking right now. (Coinciding with all the American and northern hemisphere bloggers moving into fall/autumn baking!) I've already made pumpkin bread, and pumpkin streusel muffins, and have just had pumpkin recipes on the brain. Well, the other day, one of my favourite bakeries, Le Petit Grain in Paris, posted a picture on Instagram of a pumpkin and pistachio praliné sourdough babka that looked totally amazing. I HAD to have it! Unfortunately, a return flight to Paris was not on the agenda, and I spent all day thinking about how I could make something similar. And that night straight after work I got into the kitchen and made it!

Pumpkin chocolate babka
Pumpkin Chocolate Babka

So - I used Stella Parks' yeasted pumpkin bread recipe as the base. You may remember this excellent, orange-coloured dough from last year's pumpkin and pecan cinnamon scrolls with cream cheese icing. It's a relatively easy dough - just plonk everything into a food processor and whizz for a couple of minutes until it comes together in a smooth and stretchy ball. (Note: according to Stella, this dough HAS to be done in a processor and not a stand mixer or by hand - you need the blades of the processor to break down the fibrousness of the pumpkin and allow the gluten in the flour to develop. Apparently by hand it will never happen, and you're likely to overheat the motor in a stand mixer before the dough is sufficiently kneaded).

For the filling and shape, I used the über-famous chocolate babka recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's book Jerusalem. I added cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to the filling for a pumpkin spice vibe, as well as sprinkling some pepitas on the top  to really hammer home the idea that this is a pumpkin babka. There's also a sugar syrup, that you use to drench the cooked babka - I added some of the spice mix to that too, so the flavour would really permeate throughout the loaf.

Pumpkin chocolate babka
Pumpkin Chocolate Babka

I'm not gonna lie - there's a bit of work involved in this. None of it is particularly difficult; it's just time consuming. So read through the recipe carefully and plan it out! I did this all on a weeknight straight after work, and ate it for breakfast the next morning, as it needs to cool completely before you slice into it. (I cooked and ate dinner while the dough was having its first proof, and kept washing up as I went, so the kitchen wasn't too much of a disaster zone when I was done). You have to prove the dough twice - once for 1-2 hours when it's just a ball of dough; once for another hour once the log is formed. I did it all in one go, but I reckon you could do a slow proof overnight in the fridge for either proof if that suits your timing better.

Pumpkin chocolate babka
Pumpkin Chocolate Babka

Either way, the babka is deceptively easy to make and form, and the results are sooooo impressive! The dough is soft and light with great crunchy edges, the chocolate swirl is super decadent, and I love the toasty crunch of the pecans and pumpkin seeds. The spiced syrup keeps it moist and gives a subtle warmth and gorgeous fragrance. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Babka
Dough adapted from Serious Eats; Shape, filling, and syrup adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

For the dough
455 grams bread flour
9 grams table salt
7 grams dry yeast
340 grams pumpkin purée
55 grams maple syrup
55 grams unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
25 grams icing sugar
70 grams dark chocolate, melted
60 grams unsalted butter, melted
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
50 grams pecans
10 grams pepitas
For the syrup
60 millilitres water
50 grams caster sugar

To make the dough, place the bread flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the double blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the pumpkin purée, maple syrup and butter, and process until the dough becomes a smooth ball. This should take 75 seconds to 2 minutes. To test if the dough is ready, pull a small piece off and stretch - if it breaks, it needs to be processed for longer, so process for another 20 second burst and test again. It is ready when you can stretch it into a thin, almost translucent sheet without it breaking.
Remove the dough from the processor and form into a ball. Place into a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm, and allow to prove until doubled in size. (1-2 hours on a mild day; it will be faster the hotter the weather is).
To make the filling, stir together the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside approximately half the spice mixture for the syrup. To the spices, add the icing sugar, dark chocolate, butter and cocoa powder. Stir to combine.
Toast the pecans in an oil-less dry frying pan over medium heat until toasted and fragrant. Tip out onto a chopping board and chop roughly.
To assemble, punch the dough down to expel the gas (hehe). Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, approx. 30 x 40 centimetres.
Spread the chocolate mixture over the dough in a thin layer, leaving a centimetre border all the way around. Sprinkle over the pecans, saving a handful for topping the finished loaf.
With the long side facing you, gently roll up the dough lengthwise to form a log, finishing with the seam side down. Press gently to seal.
Using a serrated knife, slice a centimetre off each end to neaten it up and discard the offcuts. Slice the log in half lengthwise, then place the two halves next to each other, with the stripey cut sides are facing up. Gently press two ends together to seal, then form a simple plait by bringing the right side over the left side, then repeating until you get to the end. Gently press the ends to seal.
Line a 29cm x 14cm x 7.5cm loaf tin with baking paper. Lift the plait into the prepared loaf tin. Cover loosely with clingfilm or a clean tea towel, and allow to prove for an hour until slightly risen and puffy. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C.
Sprinkle the remaining pecans and pepitas over the log. Bake the log for 20-30 minutes (covering with foil if it's going brown too quickly), or until cooked. A skewer inserted into the cake shouldn't come away with any raw dough (although it will obviously have some melty chocolate on it!)
Make the syrup while the loaf is cooking. Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to boil just until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved spice mixture.
Once the loaf is cooked, pour the syrup evenly over the hot loaf. Allow to cool until it is just warm, then remove to a wire rack (discard the baking paper) and allow to cool completely. You should probably put a plate under the rack to catch any sticky drips.
Slice into thick slabs once cool.
Makes one loaf.

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog

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  1. This looks amazing, and I can imagine how heavenly the house must smell when it's baking. I might try this for Thanksgiving :)

    1. Oh thanks so much! I do hope you enjoy it if you make it :)



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