Category Archives: Shaping

Chocolate and Walnut Babka – a Sourdough Polish Easter Bread

Eventually, I knew, I would have to bake a Babka. Simple enough: an enriched dough, then a buttery layer on top, then roll it up … and then it gets difficult. The dough is sliced longways and platted, like a brioche crown, then placed into a loaf tin to rise and bake. So the dough has to fill out enough to form the loaf shape, with a consistent swirl of filling with each slice.

I tried a loaf with my Taster, Bailey, who couldn’t fault it, so I made two loaves for the Great Dixter Spring Plant Fair Cake Stall.

Two Chocolate and Walnut Babkas, glazed with Sri Lankan coconut treacle

And two very charming women were kind enough to let me photograph the proof that they were edible!

Two charming ladies at the Great Dixter Plant Fair

Baking with silicone

I was in Lakeland Plastics the other day and saw some interesting silicone moulds for bread, made by Lékué, a Spanish company that seems to be quite ingenious in the development of cookware.

In my talks on sourdough, I always go on about being flexible about what you bake your bread in – a wet loaf frequently needs support, but loaf tins are often too confined, so why not use a lined roasting dish, for example?  The thing with the Lekue mould is that it opens up as a bowl, for mixing, batch fermentation and final proving, and then can be clipped together to form a mould for the bread, trapping most of the moisture inside, but with gaps at either end to allow the air to circulate.

This is as big a loaf as you can bake with the Lekue mould - note the slight indentation on the crust!

This is as big a loaf as you can bake with the Lekue mould – note the slight indentation on the crust!

I used a wet dough, so it needed some support, and have found, after two attempts, that opening the mould for the last five minutes gives the crust a better chance of browning.  Do be careful that you do not try to bake too big a loaf at once – a good oven spring can really fill the mould.  The bread itself is incrediblly light and the shape is very pleasing.  Definitely one for the repertoire!