It's likely you've heard of chocolate babka, but have you ever tried a savory babka?! This Vegan Spinach Tomato Basil Babka is SO flavorful and is truly the best way to spice up your bread baking routine. With only 10 ingredients, this herby vegan basil bread dough filled with layers of spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil is truly delicious!
The bread dough base for this recipe is based on my fan favorite Vegan Onion & Spinach Pizza Rolls. However, we're using a little less dough for this recipe to fit the bread into a 9*5 loaf pan. Then, we fill the bread layers with a mix of spinach & sun-dried tomatoes for the best vegan spinach bread!
Steps to make savory vegan babka dough
Since babka can definitely look intimidating, I'll be walking you through this recipe with step-by-step photos to help show you how to make savory vegan babka!
First, make the basil bread dough
This vegan bread dough is SUPER simple and only contains 6 easy ingredients. It's dairy-free, egg-free, and filled with flavor!
First, activate the yeast
This is done by letting mixing the yeast into the lukewarm water and letting it sit for about 5-10 minutes until bubbly and frothy.
If you are using instant yeast, you can technically skip this step, but active dried yeast NEEDS this step to work. Otherwise, they can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
Then, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix
First add in the olive oil and gently mix it into the water and yeast mixture. Adding oil first helps to coat the yeast so the salt we add won't dry it out.
Then, add in the flour, salt, and dried basil and mix until a thick and sticky dough forms.
Knead the dough
This step can be done either with a standing mixer and a bread hook or by hand on a well-floured surface. For this recipe, I decided to do it in my standing mixer out of pure laziness, but either method is just as effective!
It's important to knead the dough until it is elastic, stretchy, and can be pulled into a windowpane without easily tearing.
Let the dough rest
Then, add the dough to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size. I find this takes anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
To speed up this process, you can add your bowl of dough to the oven and turn on the oven light (just DO NOT turn the oven on!!).
Make the spinach tomato basil babka filling
While the dough is completing the first rise, we're going to make the spinach tomato basil babka filling!
First, rinse and "wring out/strain" the frozen spinach
This recipe calls for 3 cups of frozen spinach. However, after the spinach is rinsed and strained of any excess water, you're going to end up with around 1 cup of packed frozen spinach as pictured below.
Then, blend everything together
Simply add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until thick and sticking together. It doesn't have to be completely pureed, but it definitely helps to break up the large pieces of basil and sun-dried tomatoes so they're evenly dispersed throughout the bread.
Fill & shape the babka dough
The best way to explain these steps to you is to show you! First, take the dough that has doubled in size and roll it out into a rectangle on a well-floured surface. As you can see, it doesn't need to be a perfect rectangle to work!
Then, use a spatula to add on the spinach tomato basil filling. Make sure to leave a border along the edge of the dough without filling.
Next, roll the dough into a log from the longer end of the rectangle. Make sure to pinch the ends of the dough together to seal! Then, flip the log over so the pinched side is on the bottom.
Slice the dough log down the center.
Next, criss-cross the two halves of dough on top of one another with the filling facing up. Twist the dough together and tuck the ends of the dough under to seal. Do this step gently as the filling may fall out a bit!
Then, add the babka dough to a greased 9*5 loaf pan (you can also put parchment paper in the pan for easier removal).
At this point, it's time for the second rise (which takes another 30 minutes- 1 hour until the dough has risen and filled out the pan). I like to cover my pan with a towel or more plastic wrap for the second rise to protect the dough from drying out.
Bake the spinach tomato babka!
After the second rise, preheat the oven to 350F and brush a little olive oil on the top of the babka dough. This is our version of an egg wash to achieve that desirable brown crust.
Then, bake for 40-45 minutes! Once the babka is baked I like to let it sit in the pan for about 20 minutes to finish cooking and cool a bit before removing it.
FAQ & Substitutions:
Unfortunately, using gluten-free flour will NOT work in this recipe since we need the gluten formed from kneading the dough to hold the dough together.
That should still work! Just use the amount of sun-dried tomatoes the recipe calls for (½ cup) and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the filling to help it stick together. The oil is important in the filling, so don't omit it.
You can, but I personally do not recommend it. If you do choose to use fresh spinach, just make sure to sauté it first so it is the right texture and volume needed for the filling. You'll need 1 cup of fresh sautéed spinach to use in place of the rinsed and wrung-out frozen spinach.
I can't wait to see you all bake up this Vegan Spinach Tomato Basil Babka and try a savory babka! Plus, I hope the process shots convince you to truly give homemade bread baking a shot. I can tell you from experience it just takes practice to get better at making homemade bread and, once you start, you won't be able to stop. Enjoy!
More Vegan Bread Recipes You Will Love:
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Vegan Spinach Tomato Basil Babka
- ¾ cup luke-warm water
- 2 ¼ teaspoon active dried yeast or instant yeast
- ¼ cup olive oil plus 2 Tbsp to glaze dough before and after baking
- 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour *Add up to 2 more tablespoon flour if needed
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
First, make the bread dough
- Add the luke-warm water and yeast to a mixing bowl and let sit 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast. Then, add in the olive oil and mix together. Next, add the flour, dried basil, and salt and mix together until a thick dough forms.
- Once the dough has formed, it’s time to knead the bread. If you are using a standing mixer, use the bread hook to knead the dough until it is elastic and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl (about 5-7 minutes). If you are kneading by hand, add the dough to a well-floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes.
- When the dough is elastic, form into a ball. Place the dough into a well-oiled bowl. Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the filling
- First, run the frozen spinach under warm water until soft. Then, squeeze out all the water from the rinsed spinach.
- Add the spinach, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt to a food processor or blender and blend into a thick paste.
- Generously grease a 9*5 inch pan with oil or non-stick spray and set aside.
Roll out, fill, & shape the dough
- Once your dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. You will need to lightly flour the rolling pin too so the dough doesn't stick. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is ¼-1/2 inch thick in height.
- After the dough is rolled out, use a spatula to spread the filling evenly across the dough. Make sure to leave a ¼ inch border around the edges without filling.
- Beginning with the longer side of the rectangle, tightly roll up the dough into a log. Lightly flour the dough as you go to help if it gets a bit sticky. Seal the roll by pinching the dough ends together. Then, flip the dough over so the pinched side is facing down.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the log down the center. Then criss-cross the two halves of dough on top of each other with the filling facing up to form an X and twist the dough together.
- Place the dough into the greased pan, platting back any loose filling and tucking ends under, if needed. Cover the dough with a towel and let rest 1 hour to proof until doubled in size.
Cook the babka
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Before placing the babka into the oven, lightly brush the top of the bread with olive oil to help it brown. Bake the babka for 40-45 minutes until cooked through and browned on top.
- As soon as the babka is out of the oven, coat it with a thin layer of olive oil to seal in the moisture. Then, let the babka cool in the baking pan for 20 minutes before removing.
- Run a knife along the edges of the pan and gently remove the babka from the pan. Slice and serve warm!
- Babka can be stored in the fridge covered in tin-foil or plastic wrap for 3-4 days. It can also be pre-sliced and stored in a closed container between sheets of parchment paper.
- To make this recipe, you'll want to use a 9*5 bread loaf pan similar to the one linked here