Welcome to babka heaven. This pumpkin babka is made without any refined sugar and goes perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Topped with a crunchy layer of pecan streusel and filled with delicious fall flavors of pomegranate molasses, pumpkin puree, ginger syrup and chocolate, this babka recipe will become a fall and Thanksgiving favorite.

You may also enjoy my chocolate babka recipe, or for more pumpkin goodness, my spiced pumpkin strudel.

For your browsing pleasure, you can find all my sweet yeast breads in one place. Enjoy!

A whole loaf of pumpkin babka on an orange cake stand with slices of babka.

Inspiration for Pumpkin Babka

My idea started with pumpkin. Initially, I was going to make pumpkin sweet rolls. Sort of like cinnamon rolls but pumpkiny.

I’ve already done that with the espresso pumpkin sticky buns and sweet rolls, and then I remembered a gorgeous cake Denise from Chez Us posted, a Krantz Cake or Babka.

This was her version of an Ottolenghi beauty, personalized with cherries and pistachios.

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I loved the look and resolved to make something similar happen as soon as I could.

A loaf of sweet bread with streusel topping in a bread pan on a cooling rack with pecans.

Pumpkin Babka Filling

The pumpkin brioche dough is from Gesine Bullock-Prado, one of my go-to sources for solid base recipes.

I upped the butter in her recipe, but otherwise pretty much left it alone.

For filling inspiration, I asked my friends on Pastry Chef Online Facebook Page for ideas.

The result is a crowd-sourced filling that is unique and delicious and fallish. I love it.

The flavors all work together beautifully, but know that you can leave any of the ingredients out if you don’t like them or can’t find them.

You’ll just need to adjust the amount of the other filling ingredients to compensate. Easy!

Here are the filling ingredients:

The Secret Filling Ingredient

I used pulverized Graham crackers to bind the filling and give it a jammy consistency.

This worked very well, and since Graham crackers are pretty neutral in flavor, they didn’t compete with the other flavors in the filling.

I used Graham cracker crumbs in my sorghum pie as well. It’s a great way to thicken fillings.

Making Pumpkin Babka without Refined Sugar

An orange cake stand with a loaf of babka and an orange plate with 3 slices of pumpkin babka on it.

I tried really hard to keep refined sugar out of the mix in this babka recipe. I used palm sugar in the dough, in the filling, and in the streusel.

The only ingredients where refined sugar hide are the ginger preserves and the Graham crackers, so if you absolutely need to cut out all refined sugar, leave out those ingredients.

Your babka will still be delicious. I promise.

How to Shape a Babka or Krantz Cake

Collage of 5 images showing how to split a roll of dough and twist together to shape a babka.

The signature braided, banded look of a babka is not hard to achieve.

  1. Spread the filling on the rolled out dough and roll up like a jelly roll
  2. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll in half, lengthwise
  3. Cross one half over the other in an x, cut sides up.
  4. Make two twists on either end and then pinch the ends together.
  5. Take your hands and push the ends of the twist in towards the center, compacting the twists so the bread will fit in the pan.

Note that you will still have to finesse the dough into the pan. Tuck the pinched ends down inside the short ends of the loaf pan to make the dough fit.

Pecan Streusel

 A slice of babka with a bite taken out of it on a paper towel with a cake stand with coffee cake on it in the background.
Look at that jammy filling. This pumpkin babka really does taste like fall. Enjoy!

I love the crunchy layer of pecan streusel on top of the babka, but it does get in the way of being able to see the swirls of dough and filling.

You can leave the streusel off if you want to. The pumpkin babka will still taste just as good.

A Note About Measurements

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03/07/2024 05:03 pm GMT
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I really hope you love this pumpkin babka recipe, you guys!

Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Brioche Babka

Jennifer Field
This pecan streusel pumpkin brioche babka is about as fallish as one can get.
The crunchy, nutty streusel works beautifully with the soft, chewy pumpkin brioche and the rich, jammy filling.
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Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 50 minutes
Course Bread and Rolls Recipes
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 2 loaves
Calories 309 kcal


For the Sponge

  • ½ cup 4 oz whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1 cup 4.5 oz bread flour

For the Dough

  • All the sponge
  • 2 oz palm sugar (may sub other unrefined sweetener or use brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 4 oz pumpkin puree (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 pound bread flour (you can use AP)
  • ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 oz butter 6 Tablespoons or 3/4 stick, very soft but not greasy

For the Filling

  • 2 oz pomegranate molasses (See Note below)
  • 2 oz pumpkin puree
  • 2 oz palm sugar (may sub other unrefined sweetener or use brown sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons ginger syrup or ginger preserves
  • 2 sheets graham crackers pulverized to dust (use more for a firmer filling) These are also optional. To keep this bread completely refined sugar-free, use 2-3 Tablespoons of flour to bind the filling.
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • heavy pinch of salt

For the Streusel (optional but delicious)

  • 3 oz palm sugar
  • 3 oz all purpose flour
  • 3 oz pecans toasted and chopped
  • 3 oz cool butter
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


For the Sponge

  • Stir the ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Cover and let sit at room temperature until very bubbly and light.
  • I let mine sit a good 4 hours to develop more flavor, but once it’s bubbly and light, it’s good to go (about 1-1 1/2 hours).

For the Dough

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the sponge, sugar, salt, pumpkin puree and eggs. Mix until fairly uniform.
  • Add the flour and mix/knead until you have a shaggy dough and all the flour is incorporated.
  • With the mixer on medium low, add the butter a bit at a time over the course of about 20 minutes until it is all incorporated.
  • Once the dough has finished kneading, it should be very smooth and shiny. It will clear the sides of the bowl but be pretty slack. It will flow off the dough hook like a very thick liquid but you should be able to handle it with oiled hands.
  • Oil up your hands and quickly shape the dough into a round. Place it back in the mixing bowl, smooth side up, and spray it with some neutral oil spray.
  • Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

To Shape and Fill

  • When nicely risen, spray your counter with some pan spray (you can use flour, but it will make your dough more dense) and plop the dough out onto the oiled counter.
  • Press out all the gases, spray the top with some more pan spray, and then roll it out into a large rectangle about 20" on the long side and maybe 16" or so inches on the short side. Try and keep it as rectangular as you can (I love a tapered pin for this–it gives you a lot of control).
  • Spread the filling evenly all over the dough–it will be a thin layer. Spread to within 1/2" of three sides and leave 1 1/2" plain on one long side.
  • Roll up the dough starting with a long side and rolling toward the side with the wider margin of plain dough.
  • Once you get to the end. Pinch the seam very well to seal and turn it seam-side down.
  • Cut off about 1/2" from either end of your cylinder and then cut the cylinder in half. Set aside one half for a moment.
  • Slice the remaining half lengthwise so you end up with two "half-pipes" of dough.
  • Place one half over the other half in the shape of a cross with the cut sides up.
  • Twist either end one or two times, and pinch the ends together.
  • Press the twists together from either end to compact them and gently fit the dough intob a 9"x5" loaf pan.
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Cover and let rise until the dough has expanded to fill out all the spaces in the pan, about an hour.
  • Liberally sprinkle the streusel all over the tops of the twists and then bake for 30-35 minutes until the internal temperature is 195-200F.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on racks for about 20 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the inside of the loaf pans to loosen any stuck-on streusel and turn out the loaves to cool to no warmer than 140F before slicing.
  • It’s best if you wait until they’re completely cool, but I won’t make you do that if you’re hungry.

To Make the Filling

  • Stir all the ingredients together until evenly combined.

To Make the Streusel

  • Add all the ingredients to a bowl.
  • Cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until completely incorporated and the streusel holds together like Play-Doh when squeezed. You don’t want any sandy/floury bits left.
  • Break into wee pebbles of streusel.

Did You Make Any Changes?


If you don’t have pomegranate molasses, you can make your own for this recipe. Reduce 16 oz pomegranate juice over medium heat until you’re left with 2 oz. Once it starts to thicken, do NOT walk away. I ended up burning mine twice because I was doing other things.
As an optional addition to your filling, you can sprinkle on a liberal amount of real chocolate sprinkles or microplane some of your favorite chocolate over the top of the filling before rolling your babkas.
Nutritional information is calculated for 1/10 of a loaf, or 1 nice thick slice of babka.


Serving: 1gCalories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 6gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 336mgFiber: 2gSugar: 15g
Keyword babka, baking, coffee cake, pumpkin babka
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Thank you for taking the time to read today. Have a lovely day.

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  1. Hi jenni!
    It’s seems amazing. Will try it soon.
    Jenni what happen if i add pineapple instead of pomegranate.

    Thanks for this great article. Kindly share more articles like this.

    1. HI, Haley. Thanks for stopping in and for your question. I think pineapple would work well as long as you’re either using a reduced pineapple syrup or just crushed pineapple to keep the filling thick. The overall flavor profile will be sweeter, so you might consider cutting back on the rest of the sugar in the filling.

      I have many other sweet bread/stuffed breads on the site. There should be links to some similar type breads in the post and in the search. Click on search and then choose “related” to find similar recipes.

      Thanks again, and enjoy!

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