Nutella & Halva Babka

Have you tried Halva? In Mediterranean culture, it’s served after dinner as a sweet and nutty treat! It’s made from sesame paste and pistachios. It pairs really well with Nutella, and so I thought how fun could this combination be in a babka. I served this sliced, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side..it was delightful.

You may notice I’m using disposable bread pans…almost all my baking goods were packed – and John refused to dig for them. They worked out well though, and no clean up.

Nutella & Halve Babka – 2 1 lb loaves
For the dough:
1 cup water, warmed to 115°
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
4 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and softened, plus more for greasing
For the filling + syrup:
2/3 cup Nutella
2 cups crumbled pistachio halvah
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large measuring cup, let sit about 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt to the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; set aside. Add 1/2 cup sugar and eggs to yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Turn the stand mixer onto a low speed, and slowly pour in the yeast-egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium, adding butter, 2 pieces at a time, until a smooth dough forms. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans; set aside. Divide dough into 2 balls; working with 1 ball of dough at a time and on a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ x 10″ rectangle, about 1⁄8″ thick. Use an offset spatula to spread half the Nutella on the dough, leaving a 3⁄4-inch border all around. Sprinkle half of the halvah over the top.

Starting at one of the short ends, roll dough up tightly; slice dough in half lengthwise using a serrated knife (gently saw), leaving 1⁄2″ of dough connected at the top. Twist the strands together and pinch at the end to seal.

Carefully place the dough in prepared pan; repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until doubled in size, 45 minutes more. Repeat the process to make the second loaf.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake babkas on the middle rack of the oven, rotating halfway through, until golden and cooked through, 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves, then remove the pan from the heat. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup.

Let the loaves cool for about 30 minutes, then remove them from the pans to cool completely to cool on a wire rack.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

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