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Pesto babka is a showstopping loaf of bread that is savory, delicious, and flavorful with beautiful twists and turns. Plus, it is surprisingly easy to make! |

Pesto Babka

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  • Author: Sam Hu | Ahead of Thyme
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: one 9x5-inch loaf pan
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Pesto babka is a showstopping loaf of bread that is savory, delicious, and flavorful with beautiful twists and turns. Plus, it is surprisingly easy to make!


For the dough:

  • 500 grams all-purpose flour (4 cups)
  • 6 grams instant yeast (2 teaspoons)
  • 6 grams salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 25 grams sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • 240 grams milk, at room temperature (1 cup)
  • 60 grams butter, softened at room temperature (1/4 cup)
  • 1 egg

Other ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes (or to taste)


Prepare the dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar until evenly combined.
  2. Add in milk, butter, and egg. Stir well with a spatula until no dry flour is visible. Make sure to scrape off any remaining flour off the sides of the bowl.
  3. Transfer the dough mixture onto a clean and dry surface. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it turns into a soft and smooth dough ball. Because of the high fat content (butter and milk) in this recipe, the dough is much softer to knead by hand. You can also knead the dough on medium speed in a stand mixer for 10 minutes until smooth.

Proof the dough (First rise):

  1. Transfer the dough back into the mixing bowl, lightly grease the dough ball with a little bit of oil and cover with a lid. Let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

Shape the babka:

  1. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 18x12-inches in size.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together pesto and garlic. Spread the mixture evenly over the dough.
  3. Roll up the dough tightly into a log and pinch the end edges to seal.
  4. Slice the dough in half lengthwise and braid the two halves by twisting them together while keeping the cut sides with pesto filling facing upwards. Pinch the ends together.

Second rise:

  1. Place the babka in a parchment lined 9x5-inch loaf pan (1.5 pound loaf pan) and cover with plastic cling wrap. Let it rise (second rise) for 30-45 minutes or until it rises almost to the rim of the loaf pan.
    • Optionally, you can let the rolls rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight and bake it straight away in the preheated oven the next day.

Bake the babka:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Sprinkle salt flakes evenly over the babka and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If the top gets too browned, cover with aluminum foil halfway during baking.
  3. Let the babka cool for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.


How to measure pesto for babka: When you measure pesto, try to drain as much of the oil out of it as possible. This will prevent the pesto babka from becoming too greasy.

How to store: Store babka inside an airtight container at room temperature and eat within three days. Babka is best enjoyed the day you make it. You can also store it longer in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Note that the texture will dry out a little. You can reheat it to bring back some moisture.

How to freeze: To freeze a loaf of babka, let it cool completely to room temperature and then wrap it tightly in plastic cling wrap and then wrap in a layer of aluminum foil or place into a freezer bag or airtight container. Store in the freezer for up to one month.

  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Polish