Pumpkin-Pecan Bars Yields an 8x8" pan

Most recipes for pumpkin bars fit into a 13x9” pans, ideal for larger groups. However, this recipe that fills an 8x8-inch pan is ideal for smaller households. 

Other pumpkin pie bar recipes (all made in 13x9” pans) on our blog include 

Lyle’s Pumpkin Pie Bars (includes oatmeal and cream cheese) - 

Pumpkin Pie Squares (reminiscent of a rectangular pie) 

Or, check out some of our other recipes that use pumpkin puree @ Pumpkin Puree Recipe Collection.

 

Pumpkin-Pecan Bars   Makes an 8x8-inch pan

Crust:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Filling:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (click here for homemade version)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

15 ounces pumpkin puree (if using canned, make sure it is not sweetened or flavored) 

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Pecan Topping: 

1 tablespoon softened butter

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch with foil, leaving overhang on at least two sides so that the bars can be easily removed. Lightly spray the foil with pan release. 
  2. In a mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add flour and salt and beat until combined and crumbly. 
  3. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press it into a flat layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
  5. Filling: Whisk sugar, spices and salt until combined.
  6. Add pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, half-and-half, and vanilla and whisk until combined. 
  7. Pour the filling into the crust, then return to the 350° oven. 

  8. Partially bake bars for 30 minutes.
  9. Pecan Topping: While bars are baking, combine softened butter, brown sugar and about half the pecans in a small bowl.  After bars have baked for 30 minutes, drop dollops of filling all over the top of the bars and sprinkle with remaining pecans.
  10. Return bars to oven and bake until the filling is mostly set, but the very center still jiggles just a bit, about 45-55 minutes.
    Topping just added; bars ready to go back into the oven.
  11. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.

We had a bumper volunteer pumpkin crop! Most are Buckskin Pumpkins, some are crosses between the Buckskins and Fairy Tales . . . both are great cooking and baking pumpkins. Click HERE for instructions on baking pumpkins and processing the pumpkins. 

Recipe without photos . . . Pumpkin-Pecan Bars   Makes an 8x8-inch pan

Crust:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Filling:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (click here for homemade version)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

15 ounces pumpkin puree (if using canned, make sure it is not sweetened or flavored) 

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Pecan Topping: 

1 tablespoon softened butter

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch with foil, leaving overhang on at least two sides so that the bars can be easily removed. Lightly spray the foil with pan release. 
  2. In a mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add flour and salt and beat until combined and crumbly. 
  3. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press it into a flat layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
  5. Filling: Whisk sugar, spices and salt until combined.
  6. Add pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, half-and-half, and vanilla and whisk until combined. 
  7. Pour the filling into the crust, then return to the 350° oven. 
  8. Partially bake bars for 30 minutes.
  9. Pecan Topping: While bars are baking, combine softened butter, brown sugar and about half the pecans in a small bowl.  After bars have baked for 30 minutes, drop dollops of filling all over the top of the bars and sprinkle with remaining pecans.
  10. Return bars to oven and bake until the filling is mostly set, but the very center still jiggles just a bit, about 45-55 minutes.
  11. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.

Five-Minute Fudge in a Flash!

At the last minute I thought it would be fun to have a game night complete with popcorn, peanuts, apples and fudge. With no time to waste, I decided to give this quick fudge a try. We were pleased with the results and it certainly was fast!


Five-Minute Fudge in a Flash!

3 cups chocolate chips — I used a combo of dark, semi-sweet & milk chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, cubed

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  1. Prepare an 8x8-inch pan or baking dish by lining it with foil (allowing it to overlap one ends for easily removal). Spray with pan spray or butter the foil and sides of the pan. 
  2. Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter in large (8 cup) microwaveable bowl. 
  3. Zap in microwave on medium (50 to 70% power) until chips are melted, about 3 to 5 minute, stirring once or twice during cooking. 
  4. Stir to combine ingredients. Fold in nuts.  

    Although I bought this Danish Dough Whisk for breads, 
    it was the perfect tool for blending the fudge mixture.  
  5. Pour into prepare dish and refrigerate until set—at least about an hour,
  6. When set, grab edges of foil to remove fudge from pan. Cut into squares. 

  7. Store in an airtight container. Fudge does not need to be refrigerated but stays firmed if refrigerated.
Recipe without photos . . . Five-Minute Fudge in a Flash!

3 cups chocolate chips — I used a combo of dark, semi-sweet & milk chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, cubed

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  1. Prepare an 8x8-inch pan or baking dish by lining it with foil (allowing it to overlap one ends for easily removal). Spray with pan spray or butter the foil and sides of the pan. 
  2. Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter in large (8 cup) microwaveable bowl. 
  3. Zap in microwave on medium (50 to 70% power) until chips are melted, about 3 to 5 minute, stirring once or twice during cooking. 
  4. Stir to combine ingredients. Fold in nuts.  
  5. Pour into prepare dish and refrigerate until set—at least about an hour,
  6. When set, grab edges of foil to remove fudge from pan. Cut into squares. 
  7. Store in an airtight container. Fudge does not need to be refrigerated but stays firmed if refrigerated.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Normally I make Broccoli Cheese Soup with chicken or turkey broth but last night's soup was all about using what we had on hand—namely milk and a package of frozen broccoli, both about to reach their expiration date in a few days. I also added a little ham and thinned the soup with just a little pork broth near the end. Although I use fresh herbs in both versions of the soup, I’ve found that a sprinkling or two of Italian seasoning always adds a boost of flavor. 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (milk based)

About 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

½ of a large onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

About 1 cup finely diced ham

About 2 to 3 tablespoons butter 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, more or less as desired

About 2 cups of frozen broccoli

1 to 2 cup grated Cheddar cheese 

Pork or chicken broth to thin soup as needed or use additional milk 

  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; sauté the onions, garlic, celery and carrots about 5 minutes or until they turn translucent; add the ham and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Add butter (enough to equal about 4 tablespoons total fat counting the olive oil.) 
  3. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, thyme and Italian seasoning; cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Slowly stir in the milk and then the frozen broccoli.
  5. Cook just until broccoli and carrots are just tender. Taste and adjust seasonings according.
  6. Stir in cheese and allow to melt. If soup is too thick, think with pork or chicken broth or with additional milk.

Recipe without photos . . .

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (milk based)

About 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

½ of a large onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 celery stalk, finely diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

About 1 cup finely diced ham

About 2 to 3 tablespoons butter 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, more or less as desired

About 2 cups of frozen broccoli

1 to 2 cup grated Cheddar cheese 

Pork or chicken broth to thin soup as needed or use additional milk 

  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; sauté the onions, garlic, celery and carrots about 5 minutes or until they turn translucent; add the ham and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Add butter (enough to equal about 4 tablespoons total fat counting the olive oil.) 
  3. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, thyme and Italian seasoning; cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Slowly stir in the milk and then the frozen broccoli.
  5. Cook just until broccoli and carrots are just tender. Taste and adjust seasonings according.
  6. Stir in cheese and allow to melt. If soup is too thick, think with pork or chicken broth or with additional milk.

Ice Box Cookies as they appear in the 2020 edition of KANSAS! Magazine

I added black walnuts to this batch of cookies.
1945 ERA RECIPE 
In honor of the 75th anniversary of KANSAS! Magazine, Louise Hanson found an ice box cookie recipe in the 1945 “O.E.S. Cook Book;” it was produced by the Order of Eastern Star chapter in Wakarusa, Kansas. Although 85% of households owned a refrigerator by the mid 1940s, the term “ice box” was still in common use as indicated in this recipe title. This recipe also indicates that housewives continued to utilize the plan-ahead approach that had gained popularity during the Depression era. These make-ahead cookies were rolled and ready for baking as family treats or for drop-in friends. Think of then as an early version of today’s commercial  “slice-and-bake” cookies.
SO BUTTERY. SO GOOD. SO CONVENIENT.
The 2020 winter edition contains articles on iconic home in Kansas, homes of indigenous people and the original Home on the Range. The Taste section is titled, "A Heritage of Flavor" and explores community cookbooks produced in the state, highlighting regional culinary history and "the ingenuity and adaptability of Kansas cooks."

ICE BOX COOKIES     Yield: 7 dozen
The recipe is as it appears in the 1945 cookbook with a few updates or additional explanations included in parenthesis. 
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups (finely chopped) nuts 
1 t-spoon (baking) soda
2 cups (4 sticks) butter (softened)
1 t-spoon (teaspoon) vanilla
1 t-spoon cream (of) tartar
4 cups (all purpose) flour

DIRECTIONS:
1.   Add (to mixing bowl) as given, adding flour gradually and mixing well.

2.   Knead (manipulate very lightly a few times) and shape into three (2-inch) rolls. (Extra flour can be used during the shaping process as needed if dough is sticky. Wrap rolls in wax paper and twist ends; rolls may also be wrapped in foil and frozen.)


3.   Leave in ice box overnight.
4.   Slice (1/4-inch thick and place on greased or sprayed cookie sheet about 1-inch apart) and bake in (preheated) hot oven (350° is recommended) for 8 to 10 minutes (until edges are golden brown). So handy as you can bake for a crowd or just prepare a small tray for the mini oven whenever we want just a few warm cookies!

5.    (Cool on cookie sheet for a minute and then remove to a cooling rack.)
Mrs. Elaine Carson
Topeka, Kansas

(Optional Mix-ins: 1 c. chocolate chipschopped toffee or chopped pretzels; 1/2 c. dried fruittoasted coconut orchopped candy canes;  1/4 c. cocoa powder; 2 Tbsp. sprinkles1 tsp. instant espresso or spices, such as ground cinnamon or cardamom.)

Recipe without photos . . .
ICE BOX COOKIES     Yield: 7 dozen
The recipe is as it appears in the 1945 cookbook with a few updates or additional explanations included in parenthesis. 
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups (finely chopped) nuts 
1 t-spoon (baking) soda
2 cups (4 sticks) butter (softened)
1 t-spoon (teaspoon) vanilla
1 t-spoon cream (of) tartar
4 cups (all purpose) flour

DIRECTIONS:
1.   Add (to mixing bowl) as given, adding flour gradually and mixing well.
2.   Knead (manipulate very lightly a few times) and shape into three (2-inch) rolls. (Extra flour can be used during the shaping process as needed if dough is sticky. Wrap rolls in wax paper and twist ends; rolls may also be wrapped in foil and frozen.)
3.   Leave in ice box overnight.
4.   Slice (1/4-inch thick and place on greased or sprayed cookie sheet about 1-inch apart) and bake in (preheated) hot oven (350° is recommended) for 8 to 10 minutes (until edges are golden brown).
5.    (Cool on cookie sheet for a minute and then remove to a cooling rack.)
Mrs. Elaine Carson
Topeka, Kansas

(Optional Mix-ins: 1 c. chocolate chipschopped toffee or chopped pretzels; 1/2 c. dried fruittoasted coconut orchopped candy canes1/4 c. cocoa powder; 2 Tbsp. sprinkles1 tsp. instant espresso or spices, such as ground cinnamon or cardamom.)

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Spaghetti squash took center stage in this oven-baked casserole. Due to it’s high water content, I think spaghetti squash works well when it's included in a  baked casserole. 

Spaghetti Squash Bake    6 servings

1 spaghetti squash

1 pound sausage or lean ground beef

1 onion diced

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1 (8 oz.) container mushroom, sliced - optional

1(15 ounce) can diced tomatoes 

1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup marinara/spaghetti sauce

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 

1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. To cook squash: Cut in squash in half and remove seeds. Place halves cut side down on a baking sheet, add a little water to the tray and bake about 25 to 35 minutes (or until squash strands can easily be removed with a fork; squash should still be al dente). Cool and use a fork to remove spaghetti squash strands from the squash. Place squash in a colander (press lightly to remove excess moisture) and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, cook sausage/ground beef, onion and garlic until no pink remains. Add mushrooms near the end and cook until tender. 
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta sauce and seasoning. Simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in squash. 
  6. Place in a casserole dish) and top with cheese. (I divided mine among two smaller casseroles -- one now, one for the freezer.)

  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
TO FREEZE:  Cover unbaked casserole with foil and freeze up to 3 months. To reheat, defrost and then bake. It you are freezing in a glass dish, make sure you allow glass containers to come to room temp as it could shatter if the temperature is changed too quickly. 

Recipe without photos . . .

paghetti Squash Bake    6 servings

1 spaghetti squash

1 pound sausage or lean ground beef

1 onion diced

2 cloves garlic, minced 

1 (8 oz.) container mushroom, sliced - optional

1(15 ounce) can diced tomatoes 

1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup marinara/spaghetti sauce

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 

1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. To cook squash: Cut in squash in half and remove seeds. Place halves cut side down on a baking sheet, add a little water to the tray and bake about 25 to 35 minutes (or until squash strands can easily be removed with a fork; squash should still be al dente). Cool and use a fork to remove spaghetti squash strands from the squash. Place squash in a colander (press lightly to remove excess moisture) and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, cook sausage/ground beef, onion and garlic until no pink remains. Add mushrooms near the end and cook until tender. 
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta sauce and seasoning. Simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in squash. 
  6. Place in a casserole dish) and top with cheese. (I divided mine among two smaller casseroles -- one now, one for the freezer)
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

 With an excess of butternut squash on hand, I honed in on this recipe prepared by The Pioneer Woman on a recent episode. 

I cut the recipe in half but am including the original amounts below. I also made a few adjustments to the directions which I have substitute below.

 

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas    6 to 8 servings

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into small chunks

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoonground cumin

3/4 teaspoon chili powder, plus more sprinkling

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper, to taste

1 large onion, diced

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 (15-ounce) cans green enchilada sauce

16 corn tortillas

3 c. grated monterey jack or pepper jack cheese (about 12 ounces)

Sour cream or chopped fresh cilantro for topping - optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊. 
  2. Toss the squash, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder, the salt and several grinds of pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. 
  3. Roast, tossing once, until browned and tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
  5. Add the onion and cook, stirring it around, until lightly browned and tender, about 10 minutes. 
  6. Stir in the black beans and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder. Cook until the beans are heated through and well combined, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. 
  7. Pour about 2 cups of the enchilada sauce into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. To assemble the enchiladas, dip a tortilla into the sauce, then sprinkle some cheese down the middle, followed by seasoned bean mixture and finally some of the roasted squash. (I just did this all in the baking dish.)
  8. Roll/fold it up tightly, then place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. If you have any extra pieces of squash, tuck them in between the enchiladas. Be sure to save a little cheese for topping!
  9. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, then top with the remaining cheese. Give it a final sprinkling of chili powder, then bake until hot and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit 15 to 20 minutes before serving. 


  10. Top with dollops of sour cream or cilantro if desired. 
Recipe without photos . . . Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas    6 to 8 servings

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into small chunks

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoonground cumin

3/4 teaspoon chili powder, plus more sprinkling

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper, to taste

1 large onion, diced

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 (15-ounce) cans green enchilada sauce

16 corn tortillas

3 c. grated monterey jack or pepper jack cheese (about 12 ounces)

Sour cream or chopped fresh cilantro for topping - optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊. 
  2. Toss the squash, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder, the salt and several grinds of pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. 
  3. Roast, tossing once, until browned and tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
  5. Add the onion and cook, stirring it around, until lightly browned and tender, about 10 minutes. 
  6. Stir in the black beans and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder. Cook until the beans are heated through and well combined, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. 
  7. Pour about 2 cups of the enchilada sauce into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. To assemble the enchiladas, dip a tortilla into the sauce, then sprinkle some cheese down the middle, followed by seasoned bean mixture and finally some of the roasted squash. (I just did this all in the baking dish.)
  8. Roll/fold it up tightly, then place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. If you have any extra pieces of squash, tuck them in between the enchiladas. Be sure to save a little cheese for topping!
  9. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, then top with the remaining cheese. Give it a final sprinkling of chili powder, then bake until hot and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit 15 to 20 minutes before serving. 
  10. Top with dollops of sour cream or cilantro if desired. 

Cinnamon Crunch Milk Bread Babka

 I am having fun with babka and perfecting my technique as I go! This time I was able to increase the number of twists in the loaves resulting in pretty loaves both inside and out. Luckily I still need more practice on my technique so I have several different variations in mind. By the way, the bread is not only pretty but super DELICIOUS, too! 


Cinnamon Crunch Milk Bread Babka Makes 2 loaves

One recipe of Milk Bread Honey Buns dough (risen and cooled in refrigerator) -- note that it can be made and refrigerated overnight if desired

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped pecans 

  1. Use parchment to line two 8 ½ x 5-inch loaf pans so that the paper drapes over the sides of the pan (this prevents the sticky filling from adhering to the pan & makes it easier to lift out the loaf ). Spray with pan release Set aside.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll it out to a 13x18-inch rectangle.
  3. Spread 1/4 cut softened butter evenly over dough.
  4. Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon. RESERVE 1/4 cup of mixture for crunchy topping; spread remaining brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over buttered dough.
  5. Starting from the long side, roll the dough up tightly, as if making a jelly roll, then turn the roll seam-side down on the sheet pan. (I rolled dough on a silicon sheet and then transferred to a sheet pan.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to make dough easier to handle.
  6. Cut the long roll lengthwise down the center, exposing the layers of filling. Press slightly to compact.
  7. Place one half on top of the other to form an X; start twisting the babka from the middle up and then from the middle down creating as many twists as possible; continue manipulating cut dough so that it stays together as it is twisted.. 

  8. Cut the long roll in half carefully tuck each half in the prepared pans, tucking in loose ends and manipulating so the open parts of dough are exposed.  

  9. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour.
  10. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350°F and set a rack to the middle position. 
  11. Right before baking, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar over the top of the loaves and then sprinkle with chopped nuts. 
  12. Bake until nicely browned and cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes. 
  13. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool, then remove the loaves by lifting the parchment paper. 
  14. To Freeze: Place loaves in freezer bags, squeezing out excess air, and freeze for up to a month. Or, wrap in foil.
Another Babka recipe: Apple Walnut Milk Bread Babka

Recipe without photos . . .Cinnamon Crunch Milk Bread Babka Makes 2 loaves

One recipe of Milk Bread Honey Buns dough (risen and cooled in refrigerator) -- note that it can be made and refrigerated overnight if desired

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped pecans 

  1. Use parchment to line two 8 ½ x 5-inch loaf pans so that the paper drapes over the sides of the pan (this prevents the sticky filling from adhering to the pan & makes it easier to lift out the loaf ). Spray with pan release Set aside.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll it out to a 13x18-inch rectangle.
  3. Spread 1/4 cut softened butter evenly over dough.
  4. Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon. RESERVE 1/4 cup of mixture for crunchy topping; spread remaining brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over buttered dough.
  5. Starting from the long side, roll the dough up tightly, as if making a jelly roll, then turn the roll seam-side down on the sheet pan. (I rolled dough on a silicon sheet and then transferred to a sheet pan.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to make dough easier to handle.
  6. Cut the long roll lengthwise down the center, exposing the layers of filling. Press slightly to compact.
  7. Place one half on top of the other to form an X; start twisting the babka from the middle up and then from the middle down creating as many twists as possible; continue manipulating cut dough so that it stays together as it is twisted..  
  8. Cut the long roll in half carefully tuck each half in the prepared pans, tucking in loose ends and manipulating so the open parts of dough are exposed.  
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour.
  10. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350°F and set a rack to the middle position. 
  11. Right before baking, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar over the top of the loaves and then sprinkle with chopped nuts. 
  12. Bake until nicely browned and cooked through, 45 to 50 minutes. 
  13. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool, then remove the loaves by lifting the parchment paper. 
  14. To Freeze: Place loaves in freezer bags, squeezing out excess air, and freeze for up to a month. Or, wrap in foil.