Babka is a sweet braided cake, with an enriched yeast dough and dense texture. It can be made as rich as you like depending on the filling. This filling is fudgey and chocolatey and always comes out a winner but I've often used a quick nutella spread or a more grown up version with cinnamon, honey and walnuts. My recipe only makes 1 babka but most recipes you'll find make 2, saving one to freeze later, so feel free to double the recipe if this suits you. The syrup glaze helps give a beautiful shine, as well as helping to preserve it, retaining all the delicious moisture inside. It requires a long rise over night in the fridge to attain the beautiful silky dough that is easy to roll out and play with the next morning.
Makes 1 Babka
300g plain flour
7g dried yeast (1 sachet)
1 tsp salt
20g caster sugar
125ml whole milk
2 medium eggs, lightly whisked
75g unsalted butter, diced and softened
120g dark chocolate
75g unsalted butter
20g cocoa powder
30g light brown sugar
Flaked sea salt
75g pistachios, roughly chopped
100g caster sugar
Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix briefly to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a low/medium speed to combine. The dough should start coming together and away from the sides of the bowl. After about 5 minutes of mixing, add the diced butter with the mixer still running.
Turn up the speed to medium/high and mix for 10 minutes until smooth, elastic and shiny.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Refrigerate overnight until doubled in size.
The next morning, prepare the filling by placing all the ingredients apart from the pistachios and tahini into a small saucepan. Melt slowly over a low heat until completely smooth, gently stirring to stop the chocolate from catching. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool and thicken to a paste.
Grease a 9x5inch loaf tin with butter and line the base with a strip of baking parchment with over hangs on the side so you can easily lift out the babka.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, roughly 30x40cm. Spread over the chocolate mixture, leaving a small border around the outside. Sprinkle over the pistachios and drizzle over the tahini.
Tightly roll up the dough starting from the long edge until you have a long sausage shape. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll down the middle lengthways so you have two long pieces. With the cut side facing upwards, place one piece of dough on top of the other forming an X shape. Starting from the middle of the X, braid the two pieces of dough, placing one on top of the other. Repeat on the other side so you have a braid of dough. Carefully lift the dough into the loaf tin, loosely cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan. Place the loaf tin in the middle shelf and bake for 25-30 minutes. The loaf should be well risen and golden brown.
While the loaf is baking, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar.
Once the babka has baked, generously brush all over with the syrup. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.
The babka will stay fresh in an airtight container for 24 hours but don' t place in the fridge. It also freezes really well for up to a month.
Photography by Holly Farrier