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Roasted Red Pepper Babka

A light and tender brioche dough with swirls of savory roasted red pepper pesto. Whether you use my pesto recipe, or get creative with your own filling, this no-fail babka will not disappoint!
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 2 loaves
Author: Lori Vaughn



  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cup unsalted butter
  • ~4 cups bread flour

Pesto (for ONE loaf - double recipe if filling both loaves)

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • ~12 fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ TB white vinegar
  • 1-2 TB olive oil till desired consistency

Egg wash + topping

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TB milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly shredded


  • For the dough: Add warm milk, yeast, and sugar to a stand mixer with a dough hook. A large bowl will also work if making by hand.
  • Add 2 cups of flour, eggs, and salt. Let mix well. Then while mixer is running, slowly add the softened butter. Slowly add remaining 2 ½ cups of flour. Depending on your moisture level, it may be slightly more or less flour. Dough should be soft and smooth, but not too sticky.
  • Let mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, put in oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 1 ½ hours or put in the fridge to rest overnight.
  • After the dough has risen, place it in the freezer for a half hour. It will make it easier to work with in assembly.
  • For the filling: Roast sliced red peppers in oven on 350° F for 20-25 minutes until edges start to blacken slightly. Then toast pine nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes until slightly roasted and fragrant.
  • Add all pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in fridge until ready to use.
  • Assembly: Line two 9x5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the edge. After dough has risen and chilled, punch down the dough and divide into 2 even sections. Start with one section and roll out on floured surface into a rectangle about 10x12 inches. Fill with the pesto filling, leaving about a half inch on all sides. Using the short end, roll up tightly into a log (think cinnamon roll), but being careful not to squeeze any of the filling out. Gently pinch along the seam to seal. (You can also brush the sealed end with water to help it seal well) Repeat this process with the second ball of dough.
  • Start with one log and use a sharp knife to cut lengthwise down the entire center. Carefully twist the two ends together. You can do this easily by making an x with the two pieces and then twisting the top, then the bottom. Place in your loaf pans, cover, and let rise until the loaf is just arching over the top of the pan, usually about 1 - 1 ½ hours.
  • Bake: While babka is rising, preheat oven to 350. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese on top just before placing the loaves in the oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. If your oven browns the tops quickly, you can put a piece of foil on the top about 20 minutes in. It's done when the bottoms are a dark golden brown and layers look fully cooked.
  • Let is cool for about 15 minutes in the loaf pan, then place on cooling rack to finish cooling. It's amazing a little warm! Bread is best kept at room temperature up to 4 days. You can also freeze it! Enjoy!


Pesto: You can sub with a store bought favorite pesto to cut the homemade step here!