Indulge in this delicious Sweet Potato Babka recipe made with a buttery brioche style dough and a cinnamon and pecan filling. This babka is the perfect way to indulge in a little comfort food and enjoy the flavors of fall.
If you have never baked with sweet potato before this is a great way to simply peel and cook the root vegetable in a saucepan with a little water until soft...kind of how you would do a base for mashed sweet potato but instead use it directly into the dough.
With its vibrant orange hue and natural sweetness, the sweet potato lends a delightful twist to the traditional babka, infusing it with a subtle, earthy flavor that perfectly complements the other components of this recipe.
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Why you'll love this
Rich and buttery
The soft brioche dough gives way to layer upon layer of sweet potato filling. Whether enjoyed as a morning treat alongside your coffee or sliced as an afternoon pick-me-up.
Perfect for fall
Sweet potatoes are often associated with savory dishes, but the inherent sweetness of these root vegetables will lend a unique, moist, and tender quality to your baked goods. Pairing the sweet potato with warm, aromatic spices creates an irresistible combination that is perfect for Fall.
Ingredients and substitutions for Sweet Potato Babka
- Yeast: Yeast doesn’t just help give our babka that fluffy bread texture, it also help it rise to create a nice crumb.
- Milk: This helps give our loaf a soft crumb and the golden crust. You could substitute with water in equal measure, if you prefer.
- Bread flour: Bread flour has a higher protein percentage which helps to produce a firmness in our dough that is easier to shape. You can substitute with all purpose or plain flour in equal measure, however, if you live in the UK the texture of your dough will feel incredibly soft and be a little harder to work with.
- Egg: Adds moisture and binding the dough together. The egg helps with rising acting as a leavening agent.
- Butter: We add room temperature butter the gluten has begun to form to help create a smooth and luscious dough. You can replace with non dairy butter in equal measure, however, this has not been tested.
- Sweet potato: Mashed sweet potato brings plenty of moisture to our dough and helps create a nice lightness that compliments the pecans and cinnamon filling.
- Sugars: We use three sugars in our babka all for different reasons. Superfine or caster sugar is perfect for the dough because it dissolves easily without adding any further flavor. If you prefer, you can replace in equal measure with brown sugar. The brown sugar in the filling caramelizes alongside our cinnamon and it’s not recommended to completely replace with another sugar. The glaze needs to be made with powdered sugar to offset the bitterness in our instant coffee.
- Pecans: Completely optional, but they add a bunch of complimentary flavor here. You could replace with walnuts instead, if your prefer.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Sweet Potato Babka:
Get the yeast going: Place the yeast and milk in a bowl and allow to dissolve.
Shaggy mixture: Once bubbling, add the flour and sugar and beat on low with a dough hook, until the mixture resembles a shaggy mixture.
Add eggs: Add one egg and combine until fully combined and repeat until your dough is formed.
Toss the butter in slowly: On a low mixer setting add in 1-2 cubes of butter and incorporate until well combined. Repeat until all the butter is mixed through your dough.
Mix and mix: Beat until the dough looks slightly glossy and is pulling away at your bowl.
Rise: Place the dough into the fridge to rise until doubled in size.
Filling: Combine the filling (except pecans) until smooth.
Roll: Roll your dough out to an equal rectangle, approximately 1 ½ inches longer then your loaf tin on either side.
Smear: Smear the filling over the dough and toss the pecans over evenly.
Roll and shape: Roll into a tight scroll and slice into 2 equal pieces.
Fold: Press two ends together and fold together as tightly as possible.
Rise: Place the loaf into your tin and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Bake: for 35 minutes or until golden on top.
Glaze: Whilst the babka is cooling, stir the glaze ingredients together until smooth.
Drizzle: Slowly drizzle across tyour babka and allow to set whilst the babka cools.
Slice: Serve up and dig in!
You can definitely change up the dish by changing the following:
Pumpkin - you could substitute the sweet potato puree with canned pumpkin.
Spices - you could add pumpkin spice or a dash of ground cardamom or allspice.
Savory - you could smear with roasted tomato pesto and some goat’s cheese alongside the butter in the filling. Or fill with a cheese spread as found in this Savory Cheese Babka recipe.
The Sweet Potato Babka is best consumed within 24 hours of baking. It should be kept covered in a container to keep the dough nice and fluffy and soft. It will stay great for up to 3 days; any longer and it is recommended to warm slightly to freshen up.
You could also freeze the baked bread covered for 1 month. It’s not best to freeze the babka pre baking.
Equipment needed to make this
Mixing bowl: You’ll need a large mixing bowl to prepare the dough. As well as a small or medium bowl to combine the filling ingredients together.
Stand or hand mixer: A stand mixer is best due to the length of kneading time. Though a hand mixer will do the job if you use the lowest setting and work slowly so as not to overwork it. You can also make the dough by hand.
Rolling pin: A rolling pin will help you achieve a nice consistent dough, however, you could substitute a wine bottle for similar results.
Bench scraper: This isn’t necessary, however, will make shaping the nice even edges of your dough to give you a perfect rectangle shape.
Loaf tin: The loaf tin used here fits 1 kilo or 2 pounds.
FAQ’s for the best Sweet Potato Babka
Yes, the eggs and butter need to be room temperature to incorporate better into your dough and create a smooth texture. The butter at room temperature will also combine best for the sugar and cinnamon filling.
Yes you can, however, you will have to knead the dough for approximately 20 minutes to achieve the same results as a mixer. You can knead in the mixing bowl directly or if kneading on a work surface. You will have to make sure it is best done without any additional flour. Ensuring the butter is properly mixed throughout without drying out your dough.
Babka offers endless possibilities when it comes to fillings. While classic options like chocolate and cinnamon are popular choices, there are plenty of other delicious variations to explore. Some tasty fillings to consider include Nutella, caramel or a mixture of nuts alongside the cinnamon filling. The choice of filling is entirely up to your preference and creativity, allowing you to customize your Babka to suit your taste.
Yes, you can freeze Sweet Potato Babka. Once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the babka in the refrigerator overnight and then bring it to room temperature before serving. To enhance its freshness, you can warm it slightly in the oven or toaster before serving. Freezing allows you to make ahead or save leftovers for future enjoyment.
More Fall recipes you'll love
Sweet Potato Babka
Sweet Potato Dough
- 4 grams / 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
- 61 grams / ¼ cup whole milk lukewarm
- 280 grams / 2 cups bread flour
- 60 grams / ⅓ cup superfine/caster sugar
- 1 gram / 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 55 grams / 1 large egg room temperature
- 100 grams / ⅓ cup + sweet potato puree
- 45 grams / 3 tablespoons butter cubed and room temperature
- 100 grams / ½ cup brown sugar
- 35 grams / 2 tablespoons butter room temperature
- 3 grams / 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 54 grams / ½ cup pecans roughly cut
- 75 grams / ¾ cup confectioner’s/icing sugar
- 1 gram / 1 teaspoon instant coffee
- 10 grams / ¾ tablespoon hot water
Sweet Potato Dough
- Place the yeast and milk in a bowl and allow to dissolve for 3 minutes.
- Once bubbling, add the flour, egg, sweet potato puree and sugar and beat on low until the mixture resembles a shaggy mixture.
- On a low setting with your mixer, add in 1 cube of butter or 2 (if your cubes are small, no more than 5 grams or ⅓ tablespoon of butter at a time) and incorporate until you cannot see any butter remnants in your dough.
- Continue by adding another piece of butter and mixing until it is fully incorporated into your dough.
- Beat for a further 5 minutes until the dough it looks slightly glossy and is pulling away at the sides of your bowl.
- Lightly butter a bowl and place the dough therein, placing in the fridge to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- Remove from the fridge, lift and allow the dough to fully deflate.
- Meanwhile, place the sugar and ground cinnamon into a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Add in the softened butter and combine until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Roll your dough out to an equal rectangle and ¼ inch thickness, approximately 1 ½ inches longer then your loaf tin on either side.
- Smear the filling mixture over the dough leaving the ¼ inch edge without any filling.
- Toss the pecans evenly over the filling.
- Slowly and carefully roll your dough from the base of your wide rectangle into a tight scroll with the edge of the dough facing the work surface.
- With a sharp knife, cut into the center of the scroll, dividing equally.
- Lay the two pieces of dough right next to each other and fold one side of the dough over the other in the top third section.
- Fold the other piece under and over the piece of dough, slowly twirling the two pieces firmly together and pressing the ends together and folding ½ inch underneath itself to really firmly hold the dough in place.
- Lightly butter a loaf tin and carefully place the dough into the tin.
- Allow to proof at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375F.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until golden on top.
- Remove and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before inverting and place onto a cooling tray until it is cooled to room temperature.
- Whilst the babka is cooling, place the sugar, instant coffee and water into a bowl and stir together until smooth.
- Slowly drizzle across the top of your babka and allow to set whilst the babka cools.
- Set aside to cool completely before serving.
- Slice and serve.
- Dig in!
- The ingredients are best at room temperature: The eggs and butter need to be room temperature to incorporate better into your dough and create a smooth texture. The butter at room temperature will also combine best for the sugar and cinnamon filling.
- You can make the dough by hand: It will take approximately 20 minutes to achieve the same results as a mixer. You can knead in the mixing bowl directly or if kneading on a work surface. You will have to make sure it is best done without any additional flour.
- You can let the dough rise overnight in the fridge: Once you have kneaded the dough, simply cover and place in the fridge to rise overnight so you can finish preparing your babka the next morning. The prepared dough will require 1 further hour of rising time once prepared.
- You can freeze it: Once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the babka in the refrigerator overnight and then bring it to room temperature before serving. To enhance its freshness, you can warm it slightly in the oven or toaster before serving.
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