Want to make something special to eat? Try this babka flower bread! While it looks complicated, it's an easy bread and all you need is some dough, pesto and cheese to create this gorgeous flower shaped babka bread. This is a pushy recipe especially if you want to create something both spectacular to eat and look at!
Babka is a layered bread that is said to have originated in the Polish Jewish communities in the early 19th century. The word "babka" in both Polish and Yiddish is a diminutive of the word "baba" which means grandmother or older woman. Babka became part of pop culture when Seinfeld dedicated an episode to the pursuit of a chocolate babka. Originally babka used up leftover challah dough rolled with jam or cinnamon. Babka or challah dough is like a brioche dough with eggs and butter to enrich it. This makes babka dough really easy to work with and you don't really need a lot of flour to prevent it sticking.
You can fill this with any sort of spread. If you want it sweet you can fill it with Nutella or jam. I made it savoury using a Sacla organic basil pesto as they asked me to develop a fun recipe using it. You could even use vegemite and cheese! Other babka recipes: Pizza Babka, Blueberry Babka, Gingerbread Babka and Chocolate Hazelnut Babka.
Steps for making a Babka Flower
1 - Make your babka dough (recipe below) and then divide it into 4 equally sized balls. To get these exactly even I weigh the full dough and divide it into 4 balls by weight.
2 - Roll each ball out into a rough 20cm/8inch disc. Let each disc rest for 5 minutes (which it will do while you roll out all the balls into discs) and then cut it into an exact 20cm/8inch disc separating each with a sheet of parchment. I used the base of a springform tin and a pizza cutter to cut around it. Then you will have four identical discs.
3 - Spread the first dough disc with pesto and sprinkle parmesan leaving a 1cm/0.4inch border. Repeat with the other discs finishing on a plain dough disc on top.
4- Pop these layered dough discs into the freezer for 20 minutes - this helps handling and cutting the dough easier.
5 - Cut dough into 8 equal triangles. Then cut each triangle in half but don't cut out to the edge.
6 - Take a triangle from the bottom and lift up the centre to expose the cut and create a petal shape. Repeat with the other eight "petals"
7 - Allow to rise for 45 minutes and then brush with egg glaze and bake!
8 - Pull each petal off the flower!
While a flower babka may not be an everyday bake I find that it's a fun weekend project for when you need a nice distraction. Plus because the babka dough is so easy to work with, it's a pleasure more than pain! Speaking of finding distractions, I find that lockdown is more tolerable if I have something to look forward to on Saturday nights. For the last few Saturdays Mr NQN and I have had a regular date with Monica and Marco. We try something new and it gives us all something to look forward to, much like Saturday nights used to be when you used to go out to restaurants. One time we tried a creepy storytelling sound experience and then it got me to thinking that we should try a virtual escape room. They're one of the things that I miss the most and I looked some up and found one that sounded interesting.
When I went to buy it, I found out they're very cost effective. In-person escape rooms are around $40 a person while this was $29 all up for up to 6 devices. Also we could do it any time that suited us so we made a date on a Saturday night. It was the first time Monica and Marco had done an escape room so we had a quick briefing and started the game. Bear in mind that I absolutely don't understand or get video games so I was a bit unsure how we would find it. It had a useful video cam option where we could easily see and talk to each other. Mr NQN used his computer in another room while I used my computer in a separate room.
We all had so much fun. I was clearly rusty at it all so it took me a while to get into the swing of things but we worked together as a team really well. We were tasked with solving a murder in the subway and where one of us lacked a skill, another one could solve a puzzle. We managed to get out in 74 minutes - the time limit was 75 minutes! This was definitely a lockdown activity worth repeating.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you tried virtual escape rooms? Do you have any tips for activities to do while in lockdown? Do you like babka?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Babka Flower Bread
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 3 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 50 minutes plus 2 hours rising time
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 80ml/2.7flozs. warm water
- 315g/10.7ozs. bread flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
- 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 75g/2.5ozs. butter, cubed at room temperature
- 180g/6ozs. basil pesto
- 1 cup/80g/2.8ozs. grated parmesan cheese
- 1 beaten egg for glaze
From a shaggy mixture to
A smooth dough ready to rise
Step 1 - Dissolve the salt in the water. Then add this salt water to the flour, sugar, beaten eggs, yeast and garlic powder to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix with a spatula until it becomes a shaggy mixture and then knead on low speed for 2 minutes. Then add the butter cubes and knead on medium speed for 10-11 minutes, scraping down once or twice. It will look like it won't come together but it will. Once it becomes elastic and you can pull the dough apart with floured hands (the "window pane" effect), then shape into a smooth ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double its size (I put it in a bowl of hot water on cold days changing the water 2-3 times) and it took about an hour.
Step 2 - Punch down the dough and weigh it. The dough should be easy to handle and not too sticky. Divide into 4 balls, mine were 147g/5ozs. each. Roll out to 20cm/8inch discs. I actually roll it out, rest the dough for 5 minutes and then trim around the dough using a springform base as a guide to get perfect dough discs.
Step 3 - Take a sheet of parchment and place one disc of dough on top and then spread 1.5-2 tablespoons of pesto on the dough avoiding 1cm/0.4inch around the edge. Sprinkle with a third of the parmesan. Then repeat with the other three pieces of dough finishing with a plain dough disc on top. At this point, cover and freeze this for 25 minutes which will make it easier to cut the pattern.
Cut into eight triangles and then cut each triangle but not all the way to the outer edge
Twist up and expose the cut layers
Form a petal shape
Step 4 - Cut the dough into 8 even triangles using a sharp knife. Then cut these triangles into half but don't cut all the way to the outer edge. Pick up the dough and twist it around as shown so that the pesto layers show and you create "petals". Allow to rise and puff up for 45 minutes to an hour. Brush with egg glaze. Preheat oven to 170C/340F and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Repeat with all "petals" to form a flower
Risen and ready to bake