Babka is a sweet, cake-like bread that originated in Eastern European Jewish communities in the early 19th century, but the treat has recently undergone a renaissance, spawning dozens of delightful variations of the cinnamon-swirled classic. Although babka is traditionally made with lots of butter, eggs, and milk, this vegan pumpkin spice babka allows eaters of all kinds to get a taste of the sweet, swirled bread, not to mention the best flavors of fall.

How to Make Vegan Pumpkin Spice Babka

Making babka may seem intimidating, but the process doesn’t actually require a lot of skill. However, because babka is a yeasted dough, what it does require is patience. To make the dough, we’ll first activate the yeast by combining it with warm non-dairy milk and sugar. The mixture should become bubbly within a few minutes. This recipe calls for active dry yeast, but you can use rapid rise yeast instead. The end result will be the same, but you won’t have to wait as long for the dough to rise.

Once all the ingredients for the dough are combined, we’ll knead it until a nice, slightly sticky ball forms. I like to use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment for this bit, but you can use your hands if you don’t own a stand mixer.

After that, it’s time to let the dough rest for a while. After about an hour, the dough should double in size. Roll the dough out into a big rectangle and spread on the delicious pumpkin, brown sugar, and autumnal spice filling.

Now it’s time for the fun part: rolling up and braiding the dough! You’ll roll the dough up lengthwise, like you’re making cinnamon rolls, but instead of cutting off circles, you’ll make a long cut down the vertical length of the roll. Turn the two ropes of dough so that the stripes of filling are facing up, then braid them together by crossing one over the other. You’ll have to squash the braid down to make it fit in your pan, so don’t worry about it looking perfect.

After one more rise, your vegan pumpkin spice babka will be ready to bake! Once the loaf is out of the oven, I like to brush a bit of maple syrup on top to give it a nice, shiny glaze. It adds a lovely caramelized flavor and helps prevent the loaf from drying out, too.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

All in all, this vegan pumpkin spice babka takes 2 hours to rise and another half an hour to bake, so if you’re hoping to serve it for Sunday brunch, plan to wake up early or make it the night before. If you want to enjoy the loaf fresh from the oven but don’t fancy waking up in the wee hours of the morning, I suggest doing the second rise overnight. Just sprinkle the braided dough with a bit of water and cover it with a bag or towel, then leave it in the fridge to rest overnight.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Babka

  • Prep Time:2 hrs
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Total Time:2 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Medium


  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 tablespoon cane sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree divided
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Amelia Popowics
  • Step 1

    Heat non-dairy milk in the microwave until warm, then add it to a large bowl or stand mixer. Add the cane sugar and yeast. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. The mixture should become bubbly; if it doesn't, the yeast is not active and you must start over.

    Amelia Popowics
  • Step 2

    Mix in 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and vanilla extract, then slowly add the flour, beating slowly to combine. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough until a smooth, slightly sticky ball forms, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, knead the dough with your hands. Add more flour and non-dairy milk as needed.

    Amelia Popowics
  • Step 3

    Cover the bowl with a damp towel and put the dough in a warm area to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.

  • Step 4

    Generously flour a cutting board and rolling pin or tall glass. Place the dough on the cutting board, flour the top of the dough to prevent sticking, and roll it out into a rectangle approximately 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Spread on 1/2 cup pumpkin puree. Whisk together 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp ginger, then sprinkle the mixture evenly across the rectangle of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border of uncovered dough around the rectangle.

    Amelia Popowics
  • Step 5

    Starting on the longer side of the rectangle, gently roll the dough into a tight log. Using a serrated knife, make a long cut down the vertical length of the log so that you have two ropes of dough. Carefully braid the two ropes together by overlapping one over the other, making sure the stripes of filling are facing outward.

    Amelia Popowics
  • Step 6

    Squish the ends of the braided dough down until it will fit in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. After transferring the babka to the pan, cover it with a damp towel and leave it to rise for another hour. While waiting for the babka to rise a second time, preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

    Amelia Popowics
  • Step 7

    Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the babka is golden brown and springs back when you touch it. Let the babka cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack or cutting board.

  • Step 8

    Brush on the maple syrup glaze to give the top of the loaf a nice shine, then slice and serve. Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days. To enjoy later on, reheat slices in the microwave.

    Amelia Popowics

Ways to Enjoy This Vegan Pumpkin Spice Babka

Babka is best eaten just after it’s baked, when it’s still soft and warm, but this pumpkin spice babka will keep for several days in the fridge too. Heat up a slice in the microwave for a cozy breakfast to enjoy with your morning coffee or tea, or pop a slice into the toaster for a crispier exterior.

If you end up with stale babka on your hands, you can make this babka French toast for a ridiculously delicious weekend breakfast. This pumpkin spice babka would also make a stunning centerpiece for a holiday spread, sure to impress any visiting relatives. They don’t need to know how simple it really is to make! Your secret is safe with me.