Filed under: Babkas
January 22, 2021

Salted Caramel Ganache Babka

Soft fluffy challah, made milk bread style, swirled with a salted caramel chocolate ganache and chopped pecans make up this salted caramel pecan babka.

4.86 from 7 votes
Yield: 2 large loaves
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Supersoft milk bread surrounds a milky, silky smooth salted caramel chocolate ganache and dotted with sea salt flakes and toasty crunchy pecans. 



Babka via Milk Bread 

If you’ve been around this site, you’re likely familiar with my milk bread babka. Instead of a traditional butter based enriched dough (which makes it dry and dense) I make babka out of a challah (oil based). To drive that soft, fluffy factor in, I begin by making a roux out of some of the flour and liquid. This is a Japanese method and the roux is called a tangzhong. The process allows some of the flour to gelatinize so that gluten doesn’t overdevelop during the bread making which in turn is what leads to that supersoft, pillowy texture. 

How to make milk bread babka

If you’ve made mac and cheese before or any kind of roux (or even playdough!) this process will be familiar. Over a pot you’ll cook together water, milk and a bit of flour until it turns into a paste. Once it cools, we’ll bloom the yeast and add the rest of the ingredients and knead until we get a sticky mass. It rests either overnight in the fridge (recommended) or at room temperature, until doubled in size.



How to make the salted caramel ganache for the babka filling 

Oh this ganache is SO good. It tastes like the very best fudge but with notes of sea salt, milk chocolate and deep toasty caramel. It’s reminiscent of the whipped salted caramel ganache I used for my vanilla brown butter cake but the nuance in flavor is deepened due to the unique way the caramel is prepared. 

Making this caramel is a lot easier than making caramel from granulated sugar as there’s no need to worry about crystallization. I also chose this caramel in particular because I loved it so much in these Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Shortbreads (aka. Millionaire Bars). The process is similar but we’ll add some heavy cream and milk chocolate at the end to make it a spreadable sauce. 

You’ll start by heating a can of Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk, some butter and a little golden (or corn) syrup and cooking it until it caramelizes. You’ll need to stir frequently to avoid scorching of the milk but other than that it’s a fairly easy process. The flavorings (salt and vanilla) are added at the end. The sauce can be made a day or up to a week ahead of time and gently reheated to make it spreadable.

How to make a pretty caramel babka twist 

This relies on two main things: how the dough is rolled out and the temperature of the dough and the caramel. If you roll your dough out in an even layer and trim the edges the shape will turn out nicely. Second, the colder the dough and caramel are, the cleaner cuts you’ll get. I like to put my log of dough into the fridge or freezer for a bit to firm up. Also, be sure to use a very sharp knife to slice through it! 

For a standard babka shape you’ll roll the dough up into a log (after filling) slice it in half and twist the halves around each other. For a more standard challah shape you’ll roll it up, slice it in half and then each of those in half so you have four strands. Then you’ll braid the four strands. 

Tips on making Salted Caramel Ganache Babka 


  • The dough is easier to work with when it’s cold, an overnight rise is recommended. If you are under time pressure, you can let it rise at room temperature and then let it sit in the fridge for a bit just before rolling. 
  • You can make the caramel sauce ahead of time, it keeps nicely in the fridge for a week or more. When it’s time to spread onto the dough, warm it slightly in the microwave until it is thick but spreadable. 
  • You will likely have leftovers of the ganache, you can store it in the fridge – it makes a wonderful layer between cakes or on top of ice cream. 
  • Toast the nuts! Even if you have bought roasted nuts, they can get a little soft and gummy. Giving them a short time in the oven will bring them back to life. Preheat the oven to 375 F and set nuts on a baking tray; toast until fragrant. For small nuts or chopped, 5-7 minutes, for whole pecans or other larger nuts 10-12.


Ingredients for Salted Caramel Babka 

If you don’t have the specific ingredients on hand, here are some alternatives. For ingredients not listed below, substitutions are not recommended.  

  • Bread Flour: All-Purpose flour is a fine substitution if you can’t find bread. Bread flour lends a chewier more ‘bread’ like texture which is why it’s recommended. 
  • Brown Sugar: Light or dark is fine and if you don’t have it you can use granulated sugar. 
  • Canola oil: Any flavorless oil will do here. Melted butter as well – but measure it after you melt it. 
  • Milk: You can use soy or a nut milk here, or even water. None of these will lend as much tenderness (since they are lower in fat) but they would work. 
  • Chocolate: I used milk chocolate in mine for a more mild taste (almost fudge-like) but you can use semi-sweet or dark, depending on your preference. 
  • Pecans: Caramel and pecans seem to go hand in hand but you can use any nut you like really. Peanuts would be great  (for those allergic to tree nuts) and would hazelnuts or pistachios would taste great too. 



Recipe for Ganache Chocolate Caramel Babka

Ganache Salted Caramel Babka

Supersoft milk bread surrounds a milky, silky smooth salted caramel chocolate ganache and dotted with sea salt flakes and toasty crunchy pecans. 
caramel babka
Prep Time: 31 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 2 large loaves
4.86 from 7 votes


Chocolate Caramel Ganache

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk 396g
  • ¼ cup butter 57g
  • 2 tablespoons lyle's golden syrup
  • ½ tablespoon flaked sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup chopped chocolate milk, semisweet or dark

Bread Dough

  • 1 cup milk divided
  • ½ cup water
  • cup bread flour
  • 1 packet of instant yeast 2 1/2 teaspoons
  • ½ cup brown sugar 100g
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 cups bread flour


  • Salted Caramel Ganache
  • 1 cup pecans toasted and chopped
  • Flaked sea salt


  • Make the roux: in a small pot, combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water and ⅓ cup bread flour. Cook on medium heat, whisking frequently until it becomes a thick paste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Make the dough: Heat the other 1/2 cup milk until it’s warm but you can comfortably stick your finger in it. Whisk in the yeast and set aside until foamy.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the roux, milk & yeast mixture and remaining dough ingredients. Knead until the dough comes together in a soft mass, at least 5-7 minutes – it will still be sticky. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. You can either place it in the fridge for an overnight rise or you can leave it at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until it’s doubled in size.
  • Make the caramel sauce: In a pot, combine the sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup and butter and cook on medium, whisking constantly to prevent milk from scorching, until it thickens and turns a few shades darker. This can take 10 minutes or more. Reduce the heat to low and add the salt and vanilla, whisk to combine and then add the heavy cream and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Oil two loaf pans and line with parchment paper.
  • Once the dough is doubled in size, dump it onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, roll out the dough to a 13×9 inch rectangle. Spread with 3/4 cup of the caramel ganache, sprinkle on some flaked sea salt, and half of the pecans.
  • Roll up the rectangle from the shorter side, into a log. If the caramel was very runny when you spread it, let the log sit in the fridge or freezer until a bit firm (this way it won’t be very messy when shaping). Cut off edges and slice the log down the middle into two halves. Twist them around each other. Alternatively slice into 4 strands and braid.
  • Repeat with other half of dough and set in prepared loaf pans. Set in a warm place for a second rise, about 45 minutes if the dough was at room temperature when you started working with it or an hour and a half if it was cold. The dough should be puffy but not bubbly.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush an egg yolk whisked with a bit of water on the loaves, avoiding the ganache. Give each loaf an aluminum foil ‘tent’ (draping it over the pan very loosely) so it doesn’t overbrown. Bake the loaves for 25 minutes then remove the tent, bake for another 10 until a thermometer reads 190 F or you press the center and can’t detect any doughiness.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This ganache is out of this world! Its so good i had to stop myself from eating it with a spoon! I paired it with the banana babka from this site which is on repeat at our home. Family loved it and will definitely be making this ganache again!

  2. 5 stars
    Sam’s brownie babka was my favorite before I tried this recipe. This is my new favorite! It is absolutely amazing and the leftover ganache is perfect on top of ice cream. I may or may not have snuck a few spoonfuls as I was spreading it on to my dough. I made two babkas the first time I made this. Next time, I want to try having one as a loaf and making the other log into morning buns. I also think this ganache would be amazing inside the chocolate challah dough for maximum chocolate caramel deliciousness.

    • Gillian, thank you so much! That does sound wonderful with the chocolate challah and you are so right about the ganache being great on ice cream. I definitely snuck in too many spoonfuls while making mine too :p

  3. 5 stars
    This is so delicious!!!! I found you by searching for babka recipes on Pinterest (I made my first babka a few months ago and wanted to try another) and found your rainbow babka! To say I am obsessed with rainbows is an understatement. I went with this one first though and it was so good!!! I love the sweet and salty combo ?

  4. Oh of course that makes sense! Thank you, learning!! 🙂

    Also does this recipe call for instant yeast or active dry?

    • 4 stars
      So good! Add this to your special occasions or as a treat. The bread is soft and the filling is amazing. We just Lindt dark chocolate Carmel with sea salt and adding almonds. Instructions were easy to follow. Definitely on repeat.

  5. Beautiful!! Is it possible to whip this ganache for other applications, like with a traditional chocolate ganache?

    • Hi Ben! I don’t think so since it doesn’t have the heavy whipping cream (which is what whips up into a fluff). It’ll be a nice thick layer for spreading on a snacking-style cake though!