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Pesto Babka Buns

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These Pesto Babka Buns are seriously very addictive. They are beautifully braided and you will get the pesto filling in each bite.

pesto babka buns

Who wouldn’t love a piece of some delicious fresh bread? Especially the ones with a beautiful appearance like these Pesto Babka Buns.

Babka usually uses sweet fillings, but today we are switching it up a bit. Normally you have got lots of layers of soft bread loaded with rich chocolate or cinnamon filling for babka. But this time, I used delicious green pesto sauce for the filling, turning classic babka to the savory side.

About Babka

I had always seen photos of chocolatey babka on my Instagram and Pinterest board. I am sure I was not the only one thinking to myself, what is babka?

Babka is a sweet braided bread or cake of Jewish origin. To start, it is a dense bread that is swirled with fillings, usually with chocolate spread or cinnamon sugar. Babka, which means “little grandmother” in Eastern European word, was made by grandmothers on Shabbat during the old days. They would twist leftover scraps of challah with seeds and nuts, forming something delicious but far less sweet than the babkas we see today.

It was not until Eastern European Jews arrived in New York that the chocolate version was added to the mix. After the filling was spread onto a layer of dough, which was tightly rolled and folded, and baked into the rich loaves we know and love today.

About Pesto Babka Buns

As explained in my explanation above, most babkas are sweet. But I wanted to try something savory to use up some leftover pesto I had in my fridge. I made this savory babka with my Basil Walnut Pesto. The recipe is definitely a great way to finish up that delicious green sauce. 

Instead of baking it in a big loaf pan, I divided the dough into smaller portions into buns. Babka buns are already served per serving, so there is no need for extra cutting. In addition, making babka into buns definitely cut the baking time into half.

pesto babka buns

I must say they turned out really delicious and very versatile. They are perfect for weekend brunches and gatherings. I especially love them for breakfast and as a dip for my soup. This savory babka recipe is worth every minute it takes to make it.

After finishing this batch of babka buns, I started making my second batch with Nutella spread and hazelnuts. You can find the recipe at Nutella Babka Buns.

How to Make Pesto Babka Buns

Look at those layers inside, they are beautiful and seem super complicated. I assumed it was super hard and way too time-consuming. As it turns out it is not that hard to make, and most of the time is spent just letting it rest. The way this recipe works is by rolling your dough super thin so that the filling is distributed to all layers. The dough will rise during resting and baking, creating a nice soft and fluffy bread as the result.

Although the shaping looks tricky, it is not really any harder than making cinnamon rolls. I have a step-by-step video for helping you how to make these Pesto Babka Buns. You will be pleasantly surprised that babka is totally something you all can pull off. Just one reminder to strain the extra oil in pesto before using it. Oily pesto will make the shaping process harder because the oil will make the dough less sticky.

Roll out the dough to a long rectangle, spread the pesto, and roll it up tightly from a long end. Make sure to seal all the seams once it is rolled up to prevent the pesto from leaking. Then, split the log in half lengthwise and simply twist the two strands together. Stretch the dough and bring the ends together, overlapping them and creating a hold in the middle. Bring one end into the hole and pinch it together with the other end at the bottom.

pesto babka buns
pesto babka buns
pesto babka buns
pesto bread

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pesto babka buns
4.7 from 7 votes

Pesto Babka Buns

These Pesto Babka Buns are seriously very addictive. They are beautifully braided and you will get the pesto filling in each bite.
Author: Jaja Bakes
Course: Appetizer, Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12
Tap or hover to scale!
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Additional Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 55 minutes

Ingredients

Bread Dough

  • 4 cups (500 gr) bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (55 gr) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) warm milk

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions

Bread Dough

  • Add bread flour, instant yeast, salt, sugar, egg, egg yolk, butter, and warm milk in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Then, knead the dough with your hands until smooth. It takes about 10-12 minutes by hand or 8-10 minutes in a stand mixer. Form dough into a ball. Place into a large greased clean bowl.
  • Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 60 minutes at a warm temperature.
  • After the dough has doubled, punch down the dough. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough to release the gas.
  • Divide the dough into 12 small balls (76 gr each).

Assemble

  • Pour the pesto into a mesh sieve and push out as much as you can with the back of a spoon. You should have 1 cup of drained and squeezed pesto.
  • Roll each to a rectangle 5-inch/13cm wide and 8-inch/20cm long. If the dough is shrinking back a lot when you roll it out, let the dough rest for a few minutes, then try again.
  • Spread a tablespoon of pesto evenly over the bread, getting within 1/4-inch of the edge.
  • Roll up the bread tightly from the long end, then pinch all the seams and ends to seal. Slice the log of dough in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, not all the way to the top. Then, twist the two lengths together, keeping the filling side up as you twist.
  • Stretch the braid into 10-inch/25cm length, more or less. Bring both ends together, overlapping them and creating a hole in the middle. Bring one end into the hole and pinch it together with the other end at the bottom.
  • Place on a baking tray with a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the balls. Rest the dough for 1 hour or until they doubled.
  • Preheat the oven to 37°F/190°C. In a small bowl, mix together egg white and milk. Gently brush the tops of the buns with egg wash and transfer to the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1bun | Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 414mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 622IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 1mg
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4.72 from 7 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So I made a ton of homemade pesto and decided to try this recipe on a whim and OMG IT IS AMAZING. I made the pesto batch last night and the bread turned out so well that I decided to make another batch this morning with different fillings – some with Nutella and the others with a cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture. They all turned out beautifully! I actually used the dough setting on my bread maker to knead the dough both times and it worked like a charm. I am also looking forward to trying different fillings – the possibilities are endless. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!