I get to experience fall’s arrival twice this year! Last month I went home to Russia and jumped from the Atlantic coast’s muggy heat into crispy Moscow September with its dramatic low and dark skies, big shawls, and sea buckthorn tea with mint and honey.
Now I’m back in New York and I finally have our apartment windows wide open to let cool air in, along with the buzz and roar of the city. I walked along the Upper West Side’s tight rows of brownstones today looking for the early signs of Halloween and the holiday season, but I only spotted a few pumpkins here and there and a couple of lonely witches hanging from the balconies. The trees are still green and the sun was shining brightly.
I decided to take the matter in my own hands and spice up our dinner table tonight with something very autumnal and festive. Baking is one of the most comforting and cozy things you can do when the days are getting cooler, but I find braiding a loaf of babka especially rewarding and therapeutic.
Pumpkin & Brown Sugar Babka
- 7 g/1 package active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/4 cup/60 g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 Tbsp powdered sugar for dusting
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice blend
1. Mix yeast with warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and leave until frothy for about 10 min.
2. Use the dough hook to mix in warm milk, butter, egg yolks. Add flour, salt and sugar and knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
3. Cover the dough in the bowl with a slightly damp towel, set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
4. Stir pumpkin with brown sugar and spices in a small bowl.
5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large, thin rectangle.
6. Spread the pumpkin filling over the dough, leaving about 3/4-in border around.
7. Carefully roll up the rectangle into a thick log, lay it seam side up and use a sharp knife to cut the log lengthwise in half.
8. Position the cut sides face up, showing the filling, and lift the left half and over the right half, then the right half over the left half to form a braid. Repeat to the bottom and squeeze the ends together. Form into a wreath, firmly pinch the ends together. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
9. Cover with the towel and let rise for 1 more hour.
10. Preheat oven to 325F. Bake in the center of the oven until babka is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar before serving.