Lilac, Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Babka

‘TO BEEK’ Luxuriate for a while in the warmth of the sun, moment, or other people. As the Sun’s rays begin to emulate their warmth and Mother Nature uncurls from her slumber, the bees begin to buzz and the flowers blossom. For me, the spring air, replete with fragrant blossom and verdant leaves is a sign of hope.


This babka celebrates all that is fragrant & earthy, whilst clinging on to the comfort food of winter. The perfect transition before summer.

Ingredients:


Dough:


200ml Whole Milk (plus 1 tsp to glaze)

40ml Lilac Syrup

12g Fast Action Yeast

60g Caster Sugar

550g Strong White Bread Flour

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

½ tsp Flaky Salt

2 Eggs + 2 Yolks, room temperature (Plus 1 Egg to glaze)

80g Unsalted Butter, room temperature


Filling:


90g Chopped Pistachios

1 Egg White

2 tbsp Lilac Syrup

50g Pistachio Butter (substitute any nut butter)

40g Unsalted Butter, room temperature

140g Dark Brown Sugar

200g 80% Cocoa Chocolate, finely chopped

½ tsp Flaky Salt

1 Head Lilac Flowers


Method:

1. Begin with the dough. Warm the milk, sugar & lilac syrup in a small pan to body temperature (it should not feel hot nor cold when you dip your finger in). add the yeast, whisk to blend, and set aside while you weigh out the other ingredients.

2. In a bowl, weigh the flour and salt and whisk until homogenous. Stir the vanilla through the yeast mixture and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat in the eggs and yolks one by one, ensuring each is incorporated before adding the next.

3. Switch to a dough hook and add the flour 1/3 at a time. Once incorporated, knead for 3-4 minutes until smooth. Add the butter piece by piece, ensuring each is incorporated before adding the next.

4. Continue kneading for 6-8 minutes or until you have a smooth, glossy dough that leaves the edges of the bowl clean, don’t worry if its sticky, that’s fine. Transfer to an oiled bowl, covered with cling film and leave out of direct sunlight (or the butter will melt) to double in size, how long depends on the ambient temperature.

5. Meanwhile add all ingredients for the filling to a bowl, apart from the lilac flowers and blend with a spatula to a thick paste. Leave at room temperature.

6. Once doubled, divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each to a rectangle about 20cm x 40cm. smooth over half the filling leaving a 2cm border around the edges, sprinkle over half the lilac flowers. Taking a long side, roll up like a Swiss roll, securing the seal with some water brushed along the exposed edges.

7. Slice the log lengthways down the centre, leaving one end attached. Twist the ropes together leaving the filling facing upwards. Curl into a greased 23cm x 12cm loaf tin and repeat with the remaining dough in a separate tin.

8. Allow to prove, covered in greased cling film until almost doubled in size. Halfway through proving, preheat oven 165C.

9. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 tsp milk and gently brush over the babkas. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve in the garden, surrounded by bees and flowers.