Fig, Caramel and Pecan Babka is the most divine combination of soft, buttery bread with a nutty, sticky filling. Eat warm sliced with an extra drizzle of caramel or slather with butter for the most delicious treat ever.
This has to be one of the prettiest babkas that I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve always been intimidated by making bread, but I really wished that I'd tried it sooner. It may take some time to do, but it’s certainly not hard as long as you follow the step-by-step instructions in the method of the recipe.
Now, by the time I photographed this babka, I had made it three times already previously. However, when I started out, I wasn’t prepared to develop my own recipe. I wanted to follow a tried and tested recipe so that I could understand the ins and outs of the babka-making process.
So I turned to my blogging friend, Erin of a Cloudy Kitchen, for a great babka dough recipe. I followed her step-by-step, clear and concise instructions, and low and behold, a beautiful babka knot was created.
You’ll find photos of the process required to make my Fig, Caramel and Pecan Babka, and I hope this helps you create your very own beauty. You’ll find that it’s not as hard as you think!
The Babka Dough
This dough may require several steps (as does every dough!), but I tell you, it is so worth it!
The first proof occurs once all the ingredients have been mixed and kneaded, and the dough sits in an oiled bowl and is covered with cling wrap. It then doubles in size- it's a fascinating process to watch- I love it! But don’t forget to oil all around that bowl- it will make getting the dough out after it has risen so much easier.
At room temperature, the dough takes about one and a half hours to rise, by which point you’ll need to punch out some of the air and form it into a rectangular block of dough before wrapping in cling wrap and freeing it for one hour. We do this so that the dough is cold when we roll it out. It's much easier to work with the dough when cold and shape it how you like.
If like me, you don't want to wait around for two hours, then I do this first proof overnight in the fridge. I personally prefer this method as it means the dough gets to rise and chill all at the same time.
You don't need to freeze the dough at any point with this method. You can wake up, roll out your dough, fill and shape it and then let it rise and bake within an hour and a half from getting out of bed. Not bad for homemade fresh bread!
Fig Caramel and Pecan Babka
So, it’s true that I have a mild obsession with figs and love eating them raw but also cooked. When they cook, the sugars in the fruit caramelise and break the fruit down a bit, leaving a deliciously sweet and sticky fig layer.
Imagine how they turn nestled into layers of fluffy dough and then layered on top of homemade salted caramel sauce. I swear it is something extra! The pecans chopped up in the layers of the dough add the perfect nutty textural crunch to the bread.
As the babka bakes, the caramel oozes and bubbles into all the crevices of the dough layers. And then, as it cools, it hardens on the outside to create a crunchy, sticky layer on the edge of the babka. Ohhh, all my heart-eye emojis are going crazy.
The surprising thing was that this recipe didn’t turn out too sweet at all. The first time I made it, I thought that the amount of caramel sauce slathered on the dough that it would sweeten it tremendously. But surprisingly, it didn’t at all. I think that’s because the dough itself isn’t sweet. With only two tablespoons of sugar dispersed into that amount of dough, it yields a rich, buttery taste, but not a sweet one. Which is perfect if you want to fill it with cheese or pesto as a savoury bread.
If you would like more breakfast recipes, then check out these recipes:
Fig, Caramel and Pecan Babka Recipe
- 2 ¼ teaspoon 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 200 ml whole milk, lukewarm
- 30 g granulated sugar
- 545 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 90 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, whisked for egg wash
- 6 to 8 fresh figs, sliced thinly
- salted caramel sauce
- 60 g pecans, finely chopped
- Add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon sugar into a small bowl and mix well. Set to one side for 15 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the remaining sugar, flour and salt and mix to combine. Add the eggs (step 1) and foamy yeast mixture and mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough begins to come together. At this point if the dough doesn’t come together then add one tablespoon at a time of milk until it does. Increase your mixer speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. (step 2).
- Next, reduce the mixer speed to low and start adding a tablesoon at a time of butter, waiting for each spoonful to be incorporated before adding the next one. It takes about 4-5 minutes for this process. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes until the dough is extremely smooth, slightly sticky and extremely elastic. (step 3)
- Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl (step 4) and cover in plastic. Set aside for 1 ½ hours at room temp and the dough will double in size (step 5), then punch the air out slightly and shape into a rectangle. Wrap in cling wrap and place in the freezer for one hour before rolling.
- Alternatively, once you have shaped the dough and placed it into an oiled bowl, instead of setting aside at room temperature to proof, place in the fridge overnight covered in cling wrap. By the morning the dough will have doubled in size and will be ready to roll (you will not need to do the step of freezing the dough before rolling as the dough is already cold)
Prepare bread wreath
- Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle approx 40cmx60cm in size (step 6). Smother with ¾ of your jar of salted caramel sauce, smoothing with an offset spatular or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle ¾ of the chopped pecans (step7) onto the caramel, covering the dough sheet evenly. Next place your sliced figs over the pecans (step 8).
- Starting from one of the long sides (step 9), gently roll the dough tightly until it is one long sausage and trim the ends to neaten it up (step 10).
- Approx 2 cm (1-inch) from the top of the roll, cut the roll in half lengthwise (the top should still be attached (step 11). Turn the cut sides to face upwards and then lift one half over the top of the other. Repeat this process until you have one long piece of twisted dough.
- Grease and line a 23cm (9-inch) springform/cake pan. Gently bend the twisted dough into a circle (step 12) and with a dab of water cross the two ends over each other and stick together with some water. Place gently into the cake pan (step 13) and lightly cover with cling wrap.
- Set aside in a warm place for 30-40 minutes to rise.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Brush with the egg wash and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If the dough starts to look too golden before it has finished baking, then place foil over the baking pan in a tent shape.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature with a sprinkle of nuts, somemore sliced figs and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.