We made this super healthy, vegan pumpkin babka recipe for all the babka lovers that are on a plant-based or weight-loss diet.
Classic babka, also known as krantz cake, is a traditional sweet braided yeast bread of Jewish origin, very popular in Eastern Europe, Israel, and the United States. Most recipes include a fat-rich brioche dough made with eggs, butter, milk and swirled with chocolate filling.
Although tasty, classic babka is unsuitable for those with egg or milk allergies or following a vegan diet. Plus, it's so calorie-loaded that eating a single slice can be as filling as consuming a full meal.
Our vegan pumpkin babka is a real game-changer as we made the yeast bread without eggs, and we used almond milk instead of cow milk. Also, we swapped butter with a much smaller amount of oil to keep the fats low. The leaving action of the yeast and the stretchiness of gluten ensure the dough is fluffy and spongy, while the oil adds richness and flavour.
While most pumpkin babka recipes include pumpkin puree in the dough, we use it as the filling instead of chocolate. We roasted pumpkin chunks in the oven to get a lovely caramelised flavour from the naturally occurring sugars. Then, we mashed them with a splash of maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon. Prefer the chocolate filling? Check out our vegan chocolate babka recipe.
The result is a low-fat and low-sugar babka. Compared to the classic one, each slice has over half the calories and a third of the fats. Not to mention it comes with zero saturated fats and five times fewer sugars. Awesome!
|Instant Dry Yeast
|Pumpkin (peeled and deseeded)
|Starch (Corn, Potato, or Arrowroot)
Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds, and chop it into chunks.
Roast them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper for 40 minutes at 180 °C (355 °F) in static mode.
The pumpkin is ready when it's soft enough to mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, let's work on the dough.
Combine the yeast with 15 g of plain flour and 30 mL of lukewarm milk in a small bowl.
Leave the mixture undisturbed for 5 minutes, and you'll see the yeast slowly rising and bubbling (1).
Next, mix the remaining 205 g of flour with the wholemeal flour, the remaining 135 mL of lukewarm milk, oil, and the prepared yeast mixture (2).
Work the ingredients with a spatula or dough hooks until they come together. Then transfer the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes.
To knead the dough, press it down and forward with the heel of your hand, then fold it back, turn sideways, and repeat.
The babka dough should be soft, smooth, and pliable, similar to bread dough.
Now, roll the dough into a ball, transfer it into a lightly greased bowl, and wrap it in cling film.
Let it prove for 50 minutes in a warm place until doubled in volume.
For example, you could wrap it in a wool blanket and place it next to a radiator.
While the dough proves, let's make the pumpkin filling.
Mash the roasted chunks with a fork or blitz them in a blender into a puree.
Then, tip in the maple syrup, ground cinnamon, and starch and mix well until smooth and creamy.
Once the dough is ready, transfer it onto a large sheet of baking paper and roll it out into a rectangle, leaving 1 cm (0.4 inches) free on the edges.
As we'll use a 13 x 23 cm (5 x 9 in) loaf tin for baking the cake, we made a 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13 in) baking paper rectangle as a guideline to make sure our babka fits into the tin.
Then, spread the pumpkin filling over the dough with the help of a spatula, once again leaving 1 cm (0.4 inches) free on the edges (1).
Starting at the long edge, roll up the dough into a tight log, helping yourself with the baking paper (2).
Now, position the roll seam side down in the middle of the paper and slice it in half lengthwise.
Separate the two halves and turn them so that the filling faces up. Then, overlap one length over the other to make an X (1).
Weave the two lengths on one side of the X into a braid, and then do the same on the other side (2).
Then repeat, but this time tuck the ends under to close off the braid (3).
At this point, you can gently compress the babka if necessary to make sure it fits into the tin.
Use the baking paper to lift the braid and ease it into the loaf tin.
Then, let it prove covered for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Before baking, you can optionally brush the cake with a vegan egg wash. Check the tips section below for more info.
Bake the pumpkin bread for 45-50 minutes at 180°C (355°F) in static mode.
Finally, transfer the babka onto a wire rack to cool down completely before serving.
You can optionally brush it with maple syrup for a glossy finish and extra flavour.
To make the vegan egg wash, whisk 1 tbsp of almond milk with 1 tbsp of maple and 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a bowl. Then, brush the mixture over the surface of the cake with a pastry brush.