Dining In 3 minutes 27 March 2021

Recipe: Bakery by abc's Pistachio Babka

This pistachio babka with bergamot glaze is perfect for brunch

dessert Eastern European cuisine Home Baking

Karen DeMasco has been busy. The executive pastry chef for MICHELIN Plate abcV also helms Bakery by abc, which turns out treats for delivery or pickup in New York. Her pistachio babka with bergamot glaze—rich, dense, hefty to the touch but light on the tongue—is ideal for brunch (or any time you need a cooking project). The recipe isn't an easy one, but give it a try—or order directly from ABCv ($22, order 48h in advance).

"We opened bakery by abc right when bergamot oranges were coming in to season, and they're one of my favorites," DeMasco says. "Citrus and pistachios go so nicely together and are a different combination than you see in a classic babka, so I tested it out, and it turned out to be so delicious! The great thing about the babka is that there are infinite possibilities of flavors, and I look forward to changing them seasonally."

Chef Karen DeMasco. Photo courtesy of bakery by abc
Chef Karen DeMasco. Photo courtesy of bakery by abc
Bakery by abc Pistachio Babka
Makes 2 (8 1/2-x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans)

Babka dough

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
12 ounces (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, preferably high-fat, cut into small pieces

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt
    on low speed until combined.
  • Whisk together the eggs and yeast in a medium bowl.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until the dough comes
    together into a ball, about 4 minutes.
  • With the machine running, add the butter quickly, piece by piece. Continue to mix until the
    butter is absorbed, the dough is shiny, and makes a slapping sound on the sides of the bowl,
    about 6 minutes.
  • Lift the dough out of the bowl and transfer it between your two fists, bouncing it up and down
    and folding it back into a ball, until the dough begins to tighten, about 4 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl, cover well with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles, about 2 hours.
  • Fold the dough down and return it to the same bowl. Cover well with plastic wrap and let it rise for the second time in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Pistachio filling
2 oz. (4 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
5 oz. unsweetened pistachio paste
1 c powdered sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
Combine softened butter, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric
mixer with the paddle attachment. Once the mixture is well combined, add the pistachio paste
and mix again.

Pistachio streusel
1 1⁄2 cups (187 g) AP flour
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar in the raw
1/4 cup (37 g) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (75 g) chopped pistachios
1 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of 1 lemons, with a microplane
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Combine flour, sugars, pistachios, cacao nibs, salt, and zest. Mix in a tabletop mixer with the paddle attachment until well combined. Stream in warm melted butter and mix until combined. Chill on a baking sheet, broken up into a layer of streusel pieces, the largest about the size of a nickel.

Bergamot syrup
1 cup (160 g) sugar
1⁄2 cup (118 g) water
3 tablespoons bergamot orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 bergamot orange
Combine sugar, water, juice, and zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Chill syrup and reserve.

The streusel, filling, and syrup can be prepared up to 2 weeks in advance. Store streusel in the freezer in an airtight container. The filling and syrup can be stored in the refrigerator in airtight

bakery by abc's pistachio babka with bergamot glaze. Photo by Juliet Wells, courtesy of bakery by abc
bakery by abc's pistachio babka with bergamot glaze. Photo by Juliet Wells, courtesy of bakery by abc

Tip from DeMasco: "When you reach the stage of rolling out the dough, topping it, rolling it again, and cutting it- keep everything cold. If the dough gets warm and sticky, pop it in the fridge until it is cool and easier to work with, then continue where you left off."

  • Generously butter 2 (8 1/2-x 4 1/2-inch) loaf pans.
  • Roll the cold babka dough into a large rectangle- approximately 12 inches by 16 inches.
  • Spread all of the filling onto the dough, leaving a 1 inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the streusel over the same portion of the dough.
  • Starting with the side farthest from you, roll the dough into a tight log. Firmly pinch the seam
  • together to seal in the filling. Cut the roll in half, first lengthwise, to make 2 portions, then width wise, to have the layers exposed. Take the 2 pieces of one of the halves and cross them over each other to make an X. Then twist the dough to fit it into the prepared pan. Push the dough to the edges of the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough to form the second loaf.
  • Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm spot until the dough rises up to the tops of the pans, about 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Bake, turning the pans halfway through baking, until the babkas are dark golden on top and the bottom of the loaf has a hollow sound when unmolded and tapped, about 45 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
Babka is best on the day it’s made, but can be kept well wrapped in plastic wrap or foil at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

While the loaves are warm, brush 1⁄4 cup of bergamot syrup over the tops of each loaf, allowing it to soak in. Turn out the loaf onto the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Karen says, "This dough freezes really well. Since the recipe makes two babkas, wrap the second one well once you have it shaped and freeze it. It will hold frozen for up to a month. When you're ready to have another babka, let it defrost and proof at room temperature (this will take longer than the first babka, about 4 or 5 hours) and bake as normal."

Hero image: bakery by abc's pistachio babka with bergamot glaze. Photo by Juliet Wells, courtesy of bakery by abc

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