Black Sesame Tangzhong Babka

The holidays are coming up fast and I was debating what to make next! My babe and I have been re-watching Seinfeld again (for the 3rd time through) and watched the babka loaf episode a while back which gave me the idea for this blog post. I googled through all sorts of chocolate or cinnamon babka loaf recipes and couldn't seem to pick one until I came across Betty Liu's amazing moody-toned gif video of this recipe!! You can find her original recipe on her lovely blog here.

This was my first time making a tangzhong...which is an asian technique used in bread making using a "roux" starter. This recipe calls for 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water, slowly thickened up in a saucepan. 

 
 

Black Sesame Tangzhong Babka

MAKES 1 LOAF
ADAPTED FROM RECIPE BY BETTY LIU

 

Tangzhong:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix flour and water until smooth. Cook over medium low heat in a saucepan until thick, slowly stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once the roux has thickened enough so you can see the trail of your spoon, transfer to a bowl and carefully place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of your tangzhong. Set aside and let cool.

 
 

Dough:

  • 3 cups of flour (I used 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 3 TB black sesame seeds
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2-3 TB soft butter cut into cubes
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • Tangzhong (cooled)
  • 1 egg plus a splash of water ( for egg wash )

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat milk until just barely warm, you don't want to use hot milk or it can ruin the activation. Add in yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes until top is frothy and foamy, indicating the yeast is active.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, measure out bread flour, salt, black sesame seeds and sugar. Add in yeast/milk mixture, tangzhong, and a beaten egg. Mix on medium-high until combined and then add in butter and mix until smooth. Continue mixing on medium-high for about 5-10 minutes until dough is silky smooth. Mine was a bit more wet than I expected, but didn't add more flour because I didn't want to dry out the loaf. Scrap into greased bowl, at least double the size of your dough and cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or about 12 hours.

Once your dough has chilled overnight, remove from fridge and pour out onto floured surface. Punch it a few times and then form dough into nice rectangle and roll out into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. 

 
 
 
 

Filling:
5 TB soft butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 TB honey
2 t ground cinnamon
2 t dark cocoa powder
1/2 t vanilla
1  t ground black sesame

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. (I added dark cocoa powder and a touch of vanilla to my filling, which was not in original recipe.)

 
 

Spread cinnamon filling evenly over dough and roll it on up! Use a sharp knife and slice through the middle down the length of the dough. Twist your two halves over each other, and place in a parchment-lined loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for another 30-40 minutes while you preheat oven to 350F. 

After rising, brush loaf with egg wash and bake for 45-60 minutes, until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 185-210. I thought mine was done after about 25 minutes because of the color, but the majority of the loaf wasn't cooked through on my first attempt. UPDATE: bake for 45ish minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before removing from pan. Serve warm if possible :)

 
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Special thanks to my lovely friend Lesleigh for the amazing 'floury things'

apron & pretty cloth napkins featured in these shots. I LOVE YOU!