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Guest Recipe: Tom's Savoury Easter Babka

Guest Recipe: Tom's Savoury Easter Babka

It may be hard to believe, but not everyone likes hot cross buns! Shocking, we know. So if you share your life with one of these people, why not give this savoury Babka recipe a whirl this Easter as an alternative?

Babka is normally a sweet braided cake that originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and the Ukraine in the early 19th Century. Usually filled with chocolate, fruit or spices, Babka shares many similarities with traditional Eastern European Easter cakes.

Tom’s savoury version takes the enriched dough of the Babka and fills it with green pesto, pine nuts, black olives and mozzarella cheese. The dough is then rolled up into a spiral log before being split down the middle to expose the rolled-up inner. This is then clumsily plaited up into a simple log shape before being baked in a loaf tin in the oven. 

Category: Bread,Easter

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 125ml warmed milk
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast (half a sachet)
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 400g plain flour
  • 50g cubed unsalted butter (soft and room temperature)
For the filling
  • 55g Green Basil Pesto
  • 15g roughly chopped pine nuts
  • 35g roughly chopped black olives
  • 100g grated mozzarella cheese
For the topping
  • 1 egg
  • A splash of cold water

Method

  1. Warm the milk slightly so that you can comfortably hold your finger in it. Whisk in the sugar and yeast and place to one side
  2. Measure out the flour into the mixing bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pop the salt to one side of the bowl.
  3.  Whisk the egg and egg yolk together and pour onto the flour before adding the milk-yeast mixture. 
  4. Turn the mixer onto a low setting and slowly add cubes of the softened butter. When the butter is all added, let the mixer continue to knead for a few more minutes. 
  5. Cover the bowl and leave someplace warm for 60-90 minutes to double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  7. Take the risen dough and knock it back with your hand to reduce its size. Take out of the bowl and gently knead on a floured surface to form a ball. 
  8. Roll the dough out to form a rectangle roughly 40cm by 25 cm.
  9. Spread the pesto evenly across the dough, leaving a 1cm border around the outside.
  10. Sprinkle over the roughly chopped pine nuts and black olives before topping with the grated mozzarella. 
  11. Roll the dough up along the long edge to form a long, spiral sausage shape. Squeeze the dough gently to seal it together.
  12. Using a sharp knife, split the dough log in half by running the knife along the middle top length of the log, leaving 2-3cm of dough joined at the top of one end. 
  13. Carefully turn the cut edges of each half to face upwards before gently making a rough plait with the dough, taking one length over and under the other several times. 
  14. Finally, tuck the ends under the dough and gently squash inwards to make a loaf shape about the same size of the loaf tin. 
  15. Gently lift the loaf into the tin, sprinkling over any filling that fell out before brushing the top with a little egg wash.
  16. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown and well risen.

Tom Frizell-Shackley is a food writer, recipe developer and freelance PR consultant, based in the North of England. He lives with his partner, son and three spaniels. Since 2019, he has published recipes and kitchen tips for his Kitchen Notes food blog.