Date Walnut Babka is a delicious twist on the traditional babka. Soft dough filled with sweet dates and crunchy walnuts makes a mouth-watering treat.
Who’s the person that you’ve had the longest friendship with?
My longest friendship is with my friend Zeinab who I mentioned when I told you about the easiest Persian style rice with golden crust. Isn’t friendship amazing? I’ve made so many good friends through years and I can say that my world is a much more beautiful place with my friends in it, because they bring happiness and joy.
It was late November, I guess. Wait, no it was mid November when Zeinab and her friend came to Boston to attend a conference and she stayed with us for a few days and it was amazing! One day, she asked me if I can make babka, and, well, I said let’s give it a try. Being part of the blogging community, I knew I would find a great recipe that wouldn’t fail me and I ended up baking a delicious chocolate babka using the recipe from amazing Sarah of Broma Bakery because everything she makes is amazing and beyond delicious.
The result? We may or may not have had a leftover slice the next day. We ate most of it in one sitting because it was unbelievably good!
The dough was amazing and it made me think how it would be with fillings other than chocolate, like one of my favorite combinations: date and walnut. And that’s how this date walnut babka was born.
The only thing that I changed to make this date walnut babka other than the filling was using cinnamon and ginger instead of orange zest to make the dough. I find this dough very interesting because it rises in the fridge, which is not a warm place. I was doubtful about it and didn’t have much hope for it to rise but it turned out to be perfect. It’s such an easy dough to work with. I may have enjoyed working with it too much, but who wouldn’t?
For filling, I used this baking date filling that I found at a Middle Eastern grocery store but if you cannot find this filling, you can use medjool dates. Make the filling by placing medjool dates in a bowl and pour 1/8 cup hot water on them, let them sit for 30 minutes and then make them into a paste using a food processor. There might be need for more hot water, if so, add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time because we don’t want a runny mixture. We want a spreadable paste.
I used 1/2 cup chopped walnuts which always goes well with dates. Unless you have nut allergy, don’t leave the walnuts out. Then comes the final addition of the filling, shredded coconut. This combination is a winner!
It’s so difficult to wait for the dough to rise, then roll it out, spread the filling, roll the dough and braid it and then wait again for it to rise and then finally bake it. But trust me, it’s SO worth it!
Date Walnut Babka
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour you will need more for dusting
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 packet instant yeast 2 1/2 tsp
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup almost 5 tbsp unsalted butter
Date Walnut Filling:
- 13 oz Baking Date Filling see notes for a homemade version
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp rosewater optional, but it makes it more delicious
Mix flour, sugar, instant yeast, cinnamon and ground ginger in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook, then add eggs and water and mix on low until the dough comes together. If the dough doesn't come together, add some more water, one tablespoon at a time.
Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, and mix on low until fully incorporated. Then change the speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes until the dough is completely smooth. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour.
Coat a large bowl with oil, place the dough in the bowl and coat it with oil. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for 6-8 hours (or overnight)
To make the babka:
Take a loaf pan and coat it with nonstick spray, then cover the bottom with parchment paper, set aside.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a rough 10X10 inch square. Spread the date filling on the dough, leave one inch border. Then spread the chopped walnuts and shredded coconut. Brush the borders with water.
Roll the dough tight and pinch both ends to seal. Place the roll in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Take the roll out of the freezer, cut it into half lengthwise, leave 1 inch at one end. Lay the cuts next to each other and lift one side over the other, forming a twist, try to keep the cut side outside.
Transfer it into the loaf pan, it's ok if it twists a bit. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Once heated, bake the babka for 25 to 35 minutes. Check at 25 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center, if there is no dough attached, it's ready. If not baked in the middle but brown on top, cover it with foil and bake it for 10 more minutes.
Bring sugar and water to boil and let it boil for 5 - 8 minutes. Add in the rosewater and turn the heat off.
Once the babka is baked, brush it with the syrup right away (use all the syrup, it's not too much) and then let it cool. Or just serve it warm!