Fig, Caramel & Pecan Babka
October 4 2020
To be honest, I didn't always love figs. I had a slightly childish (slightly, mind you) attitude about them, but that was prior to me tasting what a really fresh (off-the-tree fresh) fig tasted like!
Here in Arizona, we sometimes forget that figs grow beautifully in our desert climate. Years ago, I planted a small fig tree and within a season or two, I had an enormous tree, completely laden with fruit. I learned to love figs, and use them in cooking, baking, jams and even cocktails! I no longer live in that house with the gorgeous fig tree, but hope to plant one at my current home. They are sweet, a tiny bit crunchy and just delightful to cook with! Which brings me to this recipe...
This buttery babka is filled with ripe figs, salted caramel sauce and and crunchy pecans. If you've never worked with yeast before, this is a very good recipe to start with. It's a hearty dough that can all be made in the stand mixer, using the dough hook.
After the dough rises, it rolls out easily. You schmear some salted caramel sauce over the dough, top it with sliced figs, sprinkle it with pecans, and then roll it up like a log. That log gets sliced down the middle and then twisted (see my photos below).
The end result is a lovely rustic bread that is delicious for brunch, mid-day snack with coffee, or late-night delight while binge-watching Hell on Wheels!
Make the Dough Let Dough Rise After rolling Dough, spread
Spread Figs & Pecans over Dough Roll up Dough Cut Dough lengthwise & Twist
Fig, Caramel &
Makes: 12 servings
Prep Time: 3 hours 5 minutes Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup whole milk, lukewarm
2 tbsps sugar
3 2/3 (545g) cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, whisked for egg wash
6 to 8 figs, sliced thinly
Salted Caramel Sauce (Recipe here)
1/2 cup 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 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.
Next, reduce the mixer speed to low and start adding a tablespoon 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.
Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl and cover in plastic. Set aside for 1 ½ hours at room temp and the dough will double in size, 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)
To prepare the dough knot:
Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 16 inches x 24 inches in size. Smother with ¾ cup of salted caramel sauce, smoothing with an offset spatular or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle ¾ of the chopped pecans onto the caramel, covering the dough sheet evenly. Next place your sliced figs over the pecans. Starting from one of the long sides, gently roll the dough tightly until it is one long sausage and trim the ends to neaten it up.
Approximately 3/4-inch from the top of the roll, cut the roll in half lengthwise (the top should still be attached. 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 9-inch springform/cake pan. Gently bend the twisted dough into a circle 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 and lightly cover with cling wrap.
Set aside in a warm place for 30-40 minutes to rise.
Pre-heat your oven to 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, some more sliced figs and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
Recipe from Emma Duckworth Bakes