For the dough
1. Place the water, golden syrup, yeast, egg and oil in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Add the flour and salt and stir together until the dough comes together and there are no floury patches remaining (it may be easier near the end of mixing to use your hands to knead it lightly in the bowl).
2. Drizzle a little bit of vegetable oil on the dough and flip it over a couple of times so the dough is coated in oil. Cover the bowl (I like to use a small, clean bin bag, secured at the side with a food clip) and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume – around 2 hours.
3. Once risen, chill the dough overnight. This will do the ‘kneading’ for us and also makes the dough easier to handle when it’s time to shape.
For the filling
The next day, combine all of the filling ingredients except the pecans in a small bowl. Set aside.
Shape the babka
1. Lightly flour a work surface and tip the chilled dough out onto it. Dust with some more flour on top and roll out into a 25 x 30cm rectangle. Spread all of the filling over the surface of the dough and sprinkle with the chopped pecans.
2. Starting at the long edge, roll the dough up tightly into a log. Pop onto a tray or plate and freeze for 15 minutes – this will keep things neat and easy for the next step.
3. Remove the dough log from the freezer and cut down the length of the log so you end up with two long strips. Place the cut sides facing up and twist the lengths over each other a few times, pinching the ends to seal.
4. Carefully transfer the shaped dough to a lined 2lb loaf pan, cover, and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until almost doubled in volume.
5. Around 10 minutes before your dough is ready, preheat the oven to 180C fan. Uncover the babka and bake for 25-35 minutes. It’ll be done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with no dough attached.
For the syrup
As the babka is baking, warm the golden syrup and water in a small pot just until it starts to gently bubble.
Pour the warm syrup over the hot babka and leave it to soak in and cool before slicing and serving.