In this Pandan Coconut Babka, I took the classic braided babka and added the flavor of Southeast Asia, Pandan (screwpine leaves) and grated coconut and topped with streusel. It was a big hit in the house!
I absolutely can’t resist the aroma of pandan leaves (screwpine leaves). I think it’s so under rated and unknown! 7 years ago when I just moved to Minnesota (It was winter I remember!) and Mr. G brought me to the Asian store for the first time and when I saw frozen pandan leaves in the freezer, I couldn’t be delighted. Then Summer came along and I saw fresh pandan leaves in the fridge section and I almost hyperventilated! I’m serious! I was so excited to see fresh pandan leaves. We use pandan leaves A LOT in both cooking and dessert in Southeast Asia. My mom grows pandan leaves in a large pot and they are growing like crazy! How I wish I could grow my own pandan leaves. I probably could, but it’s probably going to die on me because I have no green thumb! eeekkk!!!
I’ve been seeing babka so often lately. In the magazines. In social medias. I decided to join the babka cult, but with some Southeast Asian twist. I love pandan bread. But I hate one that is made using pandan essence! I love me a good pandan bread made with real pandan juice. This green loaf of babka is naturally colored by the pandan juice extracted from the leaves. The aroma…oh..the aroma!! I could wear it as a perfume! I love the combination of pandan and coconut.
The babka I baked didn’t exactly have the obvious “swirly” pattern like one would have with chocolate filling. But trust me, this loaf was so well loved in our house. The kids love pandan and coconut too! I didn’t use any cinnamon in the streusel like original recipe did because I want the aroma of pandan and coconut to really shine through.
Recipe for the dough and streusel is adapted fromBon Appetit Chocolate Babka
Please weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.
Pandan coconut filling
- 4 cups grated unsweetened coconut
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preparing the dough
- Place the warmed milk and chopped pandan leaves in a food processor and process into a watery paste. Use a cheese cloth to squeeze out 1/2 cup of the juice. Top with some milk if you don't get 1/2 cup
- Add in just a small pinch of sugar into the pandan milk mixture. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes until the yeast is softened and foamy
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk, and 1/4 cup of sugar using the balloon whisk. In a bowl of stand mixer, add in the flour and use the paddle attachment to mix in the egg mixture. Beat until they are incorporated. Switch to dough hook. Add in the coconut oil pieces and continue to beat until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky to the touch
- Transfer to a floured surface and knead a few times with your floured hands. The dough will still be sticky at this point. Then transfer to a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. I put this in the oven at 90 F (because it's winter when I made this) to let it rise for 2 hours. Then after it doubled in size, remove and chill the dough in refrigerator for 45 minutes
Filling and Shaping
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter (I use coconut oil) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix the grated coconut with coconut sugar, and saltTurned the chilled dough into a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 22 x 12-inch rectangle. The long side should be near you. Spread the coconut filling all over the surface of the dough, all the way to the edges too if possible. Slowly roll the dough away from you, like jelly roll. Use a dough scraper to help you if the dough stick to the surface
- Cut the dough half crosswise. Now you have two dough halves side by side and let them touch each other. Place one half over the other to make an X, then twist the two ends on one side twice. Repeat on opposite side. (You should have a total of 4 twists.) Transfer to loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap and let it proof for another 30 minutes
- Mix brown sugar with salt. Add in coconut oil and flour and then use a fork to toss everything. The streusel should be like wet clumps
- When babka is ready to be bake, whisk the remaining 1 egg with milk. Brush this all over the surface of the loaf. Sprinkle in all the streusel on top of the loaf and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through
- Remove from the oven and let it cool down in the pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool down completely before slicing
Out of the oven and I couldn’t wait to slice into that loaf! It was truly amazing…that smell!
Will I make it again ? heck yes!
Check out other Southeast Asia recipes you might be interested in.
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