Category Archives: Bailey

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

Sourdough Tea Breads using fruit

The Tea Bread is a wonderful tradition: the light, airy quality of bread, very slighlty enriched with a bit of butter and spoon of sugar, and made tea-time topical with the addition of dried fruits, soaked in tea.

So I wondered: what could you do with a basic, semi-enriched sourdough and the use of local fruits and liquids?  After a number of experiments, I am happy with my Apple Cider Sourdough and my Roasted Strawberry Sourdough.

The Apple Cider Sourdough has grated apples, mixed peel and sultanas soaking overnight in cider, then mixed with a sourdough starter, flour, salt and a little butter – no other liquid is necessary.  Bake on a lower termperature than a normal sourdough, because of the sugars in the bread, and for a longer time.  The result is definitely a bread, with a nice open crumb, but with the wonderful scent of apple and the interest of the soaked sultanas.

Apple and Cider Sourdough in the style of a Tea Loaf

Apple and Cider Sourdough in the style of a Tea Loaf

The other bread uses strawberries.  First, 350g of strawberries were macerated with 35g of caster sugar.  The fruit was then roasted for an hour.  The dried and concentrated fruit was mixed with sourdough starter, flour, water, salt and a little butter.  I did experiment with adding mascapone cheese, but this added nothing.  The dough is a wonderful pink colour as the kneading splatters the strawberries through the dough!

Roasted strawberries, kneaded into a sourdough

Roasted strawberries, kneaded into a sourdough

The finished loaf is slightly pink with the air of … well, roasted strawberries.  Lovely on its own, with unsalted butter or with various soft and fruity cheeses.

The pink hue of a Strawberry Sourdough

The pink hue of a Strawberry Sourdough

My taster, Bailey, wrote: ‘I really like the Roasted Strawberries but when you said about them I thought yuck but thank you they are so nice they are the nicest thing you have made me so far.’