Babka is a Jewish braided cake or sweet dough that can have a variety of fillings, creating a delicious effect of ribbons running throughout the folds of the dough. Black Tahini adds a striking colour and nutty sesame flavour that is balanced with the sweetness of honey, and hint of chocolate from the cocoa powder. A slice of this Babka goes very well with a cup of tea.
For the dough:
Stand mixer or hand-held whisk with a dough hook
90ml whole milk
1 packet of dried yeast (usually around 7g)
22g soft brown sugar
1 large egg
100g diced unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
290g plain white flour
100g Black Tahini
15g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Warm the milk gently to no higher than 30C and add to a stand mixer bowl with the yeast and sugar and leave for 10 minutes, until small bubbles appear on the surface.
Add the egg, butter and salt to the milk mixture and mix on a low speed with a dough hook. Gradually add in the flour until the dough comes together in a ball then mix on a medium to high speed for 5 mins. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a small amount of flour until the dough is smooth and coming away from the sides. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover and leave in the fridge overnight (or for at least 6 hours).
The next day, line the bottom of a large loaf tin (roughly 24cm x 12cm x 8 cm) with baking paper, grease the sides and preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas Mark 4.
While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling. Melt the butter, add the Black Tahini, honey, cocoa powder and salt and mix until smooth and combined then place into the fridge so the mixture thickens to a spreadable consistency.
Take the dough out of the fridge, flour your clean worksurface lightly, then use a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 30cm x 50cm rectangle. Spread the tahini mixture onto the dough, right to the edges. Roll up the dough tightly down the long side so you end up with a 50cm long log.
With a sharp knife, slice the dough in half lengthwise and turn the dough so the cut sides (middle) are facing up. Fold one of the cut sides over the other, keeping the cut side facing upwards, then do the same with the other cut side. Keep folding the sides over each other until you have one large twist, tucking the ends under the bottom of the twist.
Pick up the twist and place it into the tin, squeezing the dough in lengthways so that it fits. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2 hours to rise, until it has almost doubled in size and is soft and pillowy.
Preheat an oven to 210C/Fan 190C/Gas Mark 7. When hot, place the babka into the oven and cook for 25 minutes, turning it halfway through the cooking time.
Whilst the babka is in the oven make the sugar syrup by combining the water and sugar in a pan and bringing to the boil, stirring to ensure it all dissolves. Boil for 1 minute then turn the heat off.
Remove the babka from the oven then pour over the sugar syrup and leave to cool in the tin (removing it before it is cool will cause it to break). Once cool remove from the tin, slice and serve.