Hi hi hello! It’s been a while. Long story short, I finished grad school! And writing a cookbook on sourdough as my thesis left me with little energy for the blog. But I’m done with school now, and I’m back to share this babka.
This little bake stemmed from experimenting with converting my sourdough starter to a sweet starter (thanks to Vanessa Kimbell, from the Sourdough Club). Essentially, you add sugar to the starter in its regular feedings in order to adjust the microbes to be able to leaven sweet bakes. So cool.
This can definitely be done with a regular starter, not a sweet one, but I was experimenting with this recipe and it truly makes a difference in the flavor. Most sweet bakes I have done with my regular starter do end up with a pronounced sour flavor because of the long fermentation.
Usually I don’t mind a sour flavor, but it’s amazing to see the difference.
I also made my own pumpkin butter for the filling with a pie pumpkin I roasted, but this could easily be made with store bought, or even just pumpkin puree that has been lightly sweetened and spiced. Don’t at me for sharing a pumpkin recipe in early September. There are no rules anymore!
Finally, this pepita crumble is so good! You’ll also see it on this Sourdough Pumpkin Bread as well, and the base is my go-to crumble formula for anything that needs a crisp crumbly topping.
Sourdough Pumpkin Babka
Pumpkin flavored babka filled with pumpkin butter and naturally leavened with sourdough, topped with a pepita crumble.
225 grams all purpose flour
50 grams cup brown sugar
2 grams salt
2 grams cinnamon
100 grams active sourdough starter or levain
50 grams pumpkin puree
76 grams unsalted butter, room temp
80 grams pumpkin butter for filling (See note below)
- Pepita Crumble:
38 grams unsalted butter, melted
22 grams granulated sugar
22 grams brown sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
A pinch of salt
63 grams all-purpose flour
10 grams raw pepitas
- Depending on the hydration of your starter and the size of your egg, you may need to add a little more flour if it seems too tacky. If needed, add a tablespoon or so at a time while mixing until it comes together.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the wet ingredients (except for the butter) with the sugar and whisk together. Add the flours and salt, and mix with the dough hook on low speed until it comes together. Add the butter a little bit at a time and continue mixing on medium-low until it turns into into a smooth and shiny dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer to a well oiled bowl, and allow to proof in a warm spot for anywhere between 4 and 8 hours. You want to see the dough has risen by 20-30%. At this stage, you can transfer to the refrigerator for at least two hours (makes it much easier to roll out if it is chilled), but this can be up to overnight if you want to continue the process the following day.
- Pepita Crumble:
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon and salt and whisk together. Pour in the melted butter and whisk until incorporated. Then add the flour and pepitas and mix with a rubber spatula until it combines into a coarse crumble. Feel free to use your hands to squeeze bits together to form bigger crumbs. Spread out on to a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.
- Grease a 9×4 inch loaf pan and cut a piece of parchment to fit in as a sling.
- On a well floured surface, roll out the dough into an even rectangle approximately 12 by 18 inches. Spread the pumpkin butter into an even layer across the dough, leaving an inch border around the edges. Paint one of the short ends with a little bit of water and roll the opposite end tightly towards it like a Swiss roll. Seal it up on the wet end.
- Cut off each end bit so the swirl is exposed. Next, slice the log in half lengthwise to expose your layers. Twist the two pieces together and place in the loaf tin. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for up to 2 hours. It won’t expand all that much.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees at the end of their proof time. Just before baking, sprinkle the top with as much of the pepita topping as you want. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a thermometer in the center reads between 185-200 degrees. Allow to cool in the tin before removing.
- The pumpkin butter filling can be homemade very easily, or you can just use store-bought! Should be easy to find at this time of year.
This may be one of my favorite ways I’ve incorporated pumpkin with sourdough. While I’m not a pumpkin spice latte person, I will admit to my obsession with pumpkin bakes.
I mean, c’mon. Tis basically the season!