Vegan Pesto Babka


At Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, Nebraska, everything is without gluten and dairy, and many pastries are vegan or nut-free. Dietary challenges led chef-owner Angela Garbacz to fall in love with what she calls “diet-inclusive baking,” and to fill her shops and her new cookbook, Perfectly Golden, with treats everyone can enjoy. This completely vegan savory babka relies on almond milk and vegetable oil for richness, while the pesto that's braided into it leans on fresh herbs, peppery arugula, and plenty of garlic for flavor. The babka dough is well hydrated, resulting in a moist loaf with a well-developed crumb. Trust us, you won’t miss the butter.

Vegan Pesto Babka
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
6 to 8



  • 3/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk, warmed (about 110°F)

  • 1 ( 1/4-ounces) envelope active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 5/8 ounces), plus more for work surface

  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • Cooking spray


  • 1 cup packed mixed tender fresh herbs (such as parsley and basil)

  • 1 cup packed baby arugula

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


Make the dough

  1. Stir together almond milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon sugar in bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together flour, salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in a separate bowl. Attach the dough hook attachment to mixer. Add vegetable oil to almond milk mixture; beat on low speed 5 seconds. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until dry ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium; beat until dough is smooth and supple and starts to pull away from sides of bowl, 5 to 6 minutes. (Dough will be sticky.) Spray a medium bowl with cooking spray; transfer dough to bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; let stand at warm room temperature until dough is doubled in size, soft, and fluffy, 40 to 50 minutes.

Make the vegan pesto

  1. Place herbs, arugula, walnuts, garlic, and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Add olive oil and vinegar. Process until mixture resembles a coarse paste, about 10 seconds.

  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; roll into a 14- x 8-inch rectangle. Spread pesto evenly over dough. Roll up dough into a tight log, starting at one long side. Using a sharp knife, cut log almost in half lengthwise, leaving 1 inch attached at one end. Twist the 2 strands of swirled dough together with cut sides facing up.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Gently press in ends of braided dough to fit length of loaf pan; transfer to loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand at warm room temperature until dough is doubled in size and has just risen above edges of pan, 30 to 40 minutes.

  4. Uncover dough, and place in preheated oven. Bake until deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 205°F, 50 to 55 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil after 30 minutes if needed to prevent excess browning. Let loaf cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely on wire rack, about 1 hour, or serve warm.

Make Ahead

Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days.

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