Introduction: Mini Babka (Sweet and Savory)
Hello everyone, this time I will guide you through making bite – sized (two bites sized to be precise) babka. I don’t think babka actually needs an introduction, it’s very popular worldwide and it’s also one of our family favorites. I usually make the classic version filled with chocolate, nuts and cinnamon but we also like poppy seeds, so today I used a poppy seed, raisins and cinnamon filling.
I cut down the size considerably and used a financier mold to bake it, so I ended up with cakes about twice the size of a regular box of matches. I think that it could be a perfect mini party cake.
One more thing: I’ve always wanted to try to make it savory, this was the right time. I filled about half of the dough with pesto and ricotta. (It worked really well, did not last much longer thatn the sweet ones.) So that the same dough could be used to make the sweet and the savory babka, I cut down the amount of sugar in the dough. I will indicate the amount of sugar I normally use for only sweet babkas in the recipe.
Let's get baking!
Step 1: You'll Need
Ingredients of the dough:
- 400 g flour
- 6 g active-dry yeast
- 150 ml lukewarm milk
- 60 g softened butter
- 20 g sugar *
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
* If you are into making only the sweet version, a little more sugar in the dough (up to 60 g) won't hurt.
Ingredients of the poppy seed filling:
- 40 g raisins
- 125 g ground poppy seed
- 70 g sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 30 g softened butter
- 80 g milk
Ingredients of the savoury filling:
- 80 g ricotta
- 2 - 3 tablespoons pesto
- pinch of salt
+ 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of milk for egg wash
+ some more flour for dusting
- digital scale
- stand mixer (with dough hook attachment)
- rolling pin
- pizza cutter or sharp knife
- financier mold (or other small cavity mold)
Step 2: Proof the Yeast
Gather all the ingredients.
First step is proofing the yeast, we'll do it in the same bowl that will be used afterwards so as to save you from washing up an extra dish.
Tip the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer, make a well in the middle and pour the milk, add sugar and the dry yeast. Using a spoon, cover the top of the milk with some flour. Cover the bowl with kitchen towel and let it sit until there will be cracks on the surface visible (about 5-10 minutes).
Step 3: Mix the Dough
Add the rest of the ingredients: the whole egg, the egg yolk, the salt and the butter and mix with the stand mixer mounted with a dough hook attachment at medium speed until the dough cleans the inside of the bowl.
Step 4: Knead and Rest
Transfer the dough onto the countertop and knead it for a short while. Push the dough from the centre outwards with the lower part of your palm and then fold it back from the outside as shown here in step 2.
Put the dough back into the bowl with some flour underneath and on top, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in volume. This process can take 1-2 hours depending on the temperature in the kitchen. In the last photo, you can see the change in the dough, before and after rising.
Step 5: Poppy Seed Filling
While the dough is left alone for proofing, there is plenty of time to prepare the filling. It only takes about 5 minutes.
Bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan. Place all the ingredients of the poppy seed filling (ground poppy seeds, sugar, butter, cinnamon, lemon zest) into a bowl, mix, then pour the hot milk over and stir until fully combined. That's it.
Step 6: Roll the Dough
Dump the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle (kind of a rectangle). The dough should be 2 mm thick.
Slice it into 4-5 cm wide stripes with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife.
Step 7: Sweet Filling
Time for the filling!
Take a stripe and spread the filling on top, but try to leave about 0.5 cm empty on the upper part of the long side. After spreading the filling I cut each stripe to be about 1.5 times the length of the individual molds.*
Then roll the dough - stripe tightly from the long side and pinch the end together to make it into a rope.
* The financier mold I used has individual cavities with a length of 8 cm, therefore I worked with roughly 5 cm x 12 cm sized stripes of dough. I hope I managed to explain it clearly. :-)
Step 8: Twist
This is the tricky and messy part, because of the small size. Cut the rope lengthwise with a pizza cutter starting at about 1 cm from the top. Twist the two strands around each other (repeat twisting until you get to the end of the rope) and place it into the mold.
Step 9: Savoury Filling
It is the same process as with the poppy seed babkas, spread ricotta and pesto on top of each dough stripe, roll, pinch, cut lengthwise (save for the very top of each log), twist the strands around each other and place the cakes into the molds. (I ended up with more cakes than I could put in the financier form, for this reason my back-up solution was to use a mini kouglof mold.
Step 10: Finishing Touches
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan).
Let them rest, covered with a kitchen towel for about 15-20 minutes.
Mix an egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk and brush it on top of the cakes,
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the top of them gets golden brown.
Step 11: Enjoy!
All you have left to do is enjoy it, and be prepared to bake the next batch. They are really delicious!
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