This Pistachio Pesto Babka recipe has a base of enriched, yeasted dough filled with layers on layers of pesto. The lovely streaks of green throughout the loaf are accentuated by the twists of doughs braided together. Add a dollop of fresh ricotta, a knob of butter, or simply enjoy a slice next to a plate of pasta!
The Babka Twist
Once your babka dough has been mixed and sat in the fridge overnight, it’s time to form the dough. Here, we start dividing, rolling, and twisting the dough to form that characteristic swirl that babka is known for.
First off, flour your counter and roll out the dough until it is a rectangle of about 9″ by 15″. Spread your pistachio pesto evenly over the dough. Roll up the rectangle so that the rolled log is 15 inches long. Once rolled, place in the freezer for ten minutes. This will help to cleanly cut through the babka and allow for easy twisting.
Once chilled, cut the log in half with a serrated knife so that you have two 15″ pieces and the filling is exposed. Here’s a great video to give you an example of how the braiding process works.
(The braiding in the video begins at minute 5!)
Fold the two separate logs on top of each other keeping the sides up as you do so, creating a long twist of pistachio pesto-filled dough! Place the twist in a greased loaf pan. Cover and place in a warm area for 1.5 hours until the dough has slightly risen and feels puffy.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake your babka for about 35-45 minutes until the top is a golden brown shade. Cool, slice, and enjoy!
Pistachio Pesto Babka Filling
Once I realized how easy it is to make a batch of pesto with the ingredients lying around in my kitchen – I try to keep some on hand! With only six ingredients, pesto packs an intense, flavorful punch.
Hop over to my post detailing how to create your own pesto variations. Using your preferred blend of nuts, oils, greens, and cheese you can create a pesto to spread on babka dough before rolling.
There are endless amounts of flavors that you can twist into babka dough. Perhaps some extra crunch with roughly chopped nuts, additional spices, matcha powder, or chocolate spreads – the world is yours! If you’re looking for another babka recipe, head over to my Hazelnut Tahini Babka recipe. You could even double the babka dough recipe detailed below and make one Chocolate Hazelnut Tahini Babka and one Pistachio Pesto version!
The Magic of Pesto
Most traditionally, Pesto is known as a Genovese combination of basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and grated cheese that is combined and ground to a paste using a mortar and pestle.
These beginnings of pesto are known to have originated in Northern Italy – Genoa to be precise! Although this Genovese combination is absolute perfection, I love creating quick pesto variations with alternative ingredients. It’s a great way to utilize what you happen to have in the kitchen using a base ratio!
Pistachio Pesto Babka
- Stand Mixer
- Dough Hook
- Serrated Knife
- 9×5 Loaf Pan
- Cooling Rack
- 1/4 Cup (60 g) Whole Milk
- 1/2 Package (3.5 g) Active Dry Yeast
- 2.5 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 2 cups + 2 Tbsp (265 g) All-Purpose Flour
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Eggs, large, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 5 Tbsp (70 g) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- oil for greasing bowls and pans
- 1 Cup (248 g) Pistachio Pesto
- In a small bowl combine the yeast, warm milk, and sugar together allowing it to rest until the yeast has been activated and appears foamy (approximately 5 minutes)
- Using a kitchen aid bowl, hand whisk the flour, sugar, salt and vanilla to combine. Attach bowl to kitchen aid with the dough hook and add yeasted milk combination to combine.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly for a total of 3 minutes. If the dough is still sticking to the side of the bowl and quite wet, you may need to add an extra tablespoon of flour.
- Once the dough is not sticking to the side of the bowl anymore, it's time to add the softened butter in two separate parts. Add the first half of your butter and mix for five minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl, then add last half of the butter and mix for an additional 6 minutes. As before, if the dough is still sticking to the side of the bowl is sticking, you may need to add an extra tablespoon of flour.
- Place the dough into a large clean bowl that is lightly coated in oil. Cover in plastic wrap and let is slowly rise for 1-2 hours. Degas the dough by lightly pressing with your hands and place in fridge overnight so that the flavor has plenty of time to develop.
- Flour your counter and roll out the dough until it is about 9" by 15" and spread your pistachio pesto evenly over the dough. Roll up the rectangle so that the rolled log is 15 inches long and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will help to cleanly cut through the babka and allow for easy twisting.
- Once chilled, cut log in half with a serrated knife so that you have two 15" pieces and the filling is exposed.
- Fold the two separate logs on top of each other keeping the sides up as you do so, creating a long twist of pesto filled dough!
- Place the twist in a greased 9×5 loaf pan. Cover and place in a warm area for 1.5 hours until the dough has slightly rise and feels puffy.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake your babka for about 35-45 minutes until the top is a golden brown shade. If you happen to have a thermometer handy, check that the interior of the babka is 185-190 degrees in the thickest center part of the bread and remove from the oven.
- Transfer to a cooling rack before serving and enjoy!