Hazelnut Vanilla Bean Babka

Hazelnut Vanilla Bean Babka
Whenever I get a Sunday all to myself, a rarity that’s only going to become more rare when this little bunnie in my belly comes out, I feel the all too familiar pull of the kitchen calling to me. And it always seems to urge me towards the flour jar and the small bottle of yeast in the fridge. Something about Sundays and bread seems so right. Perfect to throw together and let rest while you tackle everything else a Sunday requires of you, peeking in occasionally to see how it’s risen.

Hazelnut Vanilla Bean Babka
Babka has quickly become one of my favourite sweet breads to make. The buttery brioche dough on it’s own is a force to be reckoned with, but once you’ve rolled it out and stuffed it with any combination of chocolate, cinnamon sugar or in this case, a rich and nutty hazelnut-vanilla bean filling, you’ve next-leveled yourself so hard you won’t even know what hit you when you slice yourself a piece (toasted…with more butter…).

Hazelnut Vanilla Bean Babka

Hazelnut Vanilla Bean Babka

Hazelnut-Vanilla Bean Babka
Makes: 1 loaf
Approx. 3-4 hours to make/rest, 30-40 minutes to bake
Notes: The brioche dough here can be used for any number of things. On it’s own, it makes a beautiful loaf of bread. You can turn it into challah, a variety of babkas, brioche cinnamon (or savory) rolls, or monkey bread. Once you’ve mastered the simple dough, the possibilities are endless. 

Brioche Dough
makes 1 loaf

1/3 cup warm milk
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2  cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing on top
1 egg

Hazelnut-Vanilla Bean Filling
makes 3/4-1 cup {enough for 1 loaf of babka}

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup ground hazelnuts*
1 vanilla bean, pod sliced down the center lengthwise and seeds scraped out with the back of your knife

In a small bowl, stir together the milk, yeast and sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes until frothy and fragrant.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Pour in the yeast/milk mixture and stir to form a craggy, dry dough. Add in the egg and stir. Add the butter, a little at a time, and start folding the dough together with your {clean} hands in the bowl. Once a moist dough has formed, dump onto an un-floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl in a warm, draft-free spot until double in size, 1-2 hours.

While the dough rises, stir together all the ingredients for the Hazelnut-Vanilla Bean filling in a small bowl and set aside. Once doubled in size, dump dough onto a lightly flour surface and roll out into a 1/4″ rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough leaving 1/2″ border around the edges of the dough. Roll up nice and tight from the long end, pinching the edges to seal. Stretch the long rope of dough a bit, it should be about 1 1/4′ long, Twist the rope around itself creating a figure 8. If you have enough dough, you might be able to twist it around twice but whether you’re able to do one twist or two, it’ll be delicious and it will look beautiful. Once you’ve twisted the dough, place in a parchment-lined or lightly oiled loaf pan. Let rest in a warm spot covered with a clean damp towel for 30 minutes – 1 hour or until doubled in size again. In the last 20 minutes of rest, preheat the oven to 350. When the loaf has doubled in size, pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. It should sound hollow if you tap it on the top. Let cool completely before slicing, as painful as it may be.

*Toasting your ground hazelnuts makes a big flavour difference here. If you have the time to roast your whole hazelnuts (6-8 minutes at 325 or until skins start to crack. Place in sealed paper bag for 10 minutes to cool and rub skins off with a clean towel. Run through food processor until coarse flour texture is achieved). If you’re buying pre-ground hazelnuts, pour them onto a non-stick pan over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown.

Hazelnut Vanilla Bean Babka


  1. Adiel says

    I’ve never used vanilla bean.. So this might be a silly question.. But do you just use the seeds?

  2. says

    This babka sounds delicious and the top photo is absolutely stunning. It’s my new favorite photo of all time, it has everything including the “je ne sais quoi” quality that is so impossible to chase. Well done, Kelly :)


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