This recipe is inspired by one of my absolute favourite bakes in London from the always exceptional Pophams Bakery. Their Marmite, Schlossberger and Spring Onion Swirl is one of my best-loved breakfasts on a Saturday morning. So beloved in fact that I’ve borrowed the flavours and used them in another of my favourite bakes: Babka.
Cheese and Marmite has long been amongst my favourite flavour combinations, but the sweetness of spring onion and nutty sesame seeds takes this combo to all new heights.
Though usually sweet, we think this savoury babka is an absolute gem and might just make you reconsider that ever-divisive marmite.
Try it yourself and if you can, try out the original combo from Pophams – they’re absolute dynamite (as are all their bakes).
420g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
18g Instant Yeast,
25g Caster Sugar,
25g Runny Honey,
170g Unsalted Butter, melted
12 Sring Onions,
150g Comte, coarsely grated
100g Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tbsp. Sesame Seeds,
Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
TIP – Adding the butter in this recipe can be a bit tricky if you do not have a mixer, but it can be done, you just have to persevere through the initial ‘wet-stage’ where it will seem like the butter and dough will not want to combine. They will, it just takes a bit longer and can be a little messy – Stick with it!
Place the flour into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook fitted and add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt and sugar into the other.
TIP – It’s very important not to place the salt directly in contact with the yeast as this can prevent the yeast from working.
Combine the eggs, milk and honey and whisk together. Add the milk mixture into the bowl of the mixer and then knead for about 3 minutes on the lowest speed.
Once the dough has come together, gradually add the melted butter into the bowl as the mixture kneads. Once the butter has been absorbed into the dough, turn up the speed to medium and knead for about 3 minutes or until the dough is elastic and shiny. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover and leave in the fridge to prove over-night for at least 6 hours.
THE SPRING ONIONS
Place a large griddle pan over a medium-high heat.
Drizzle the spring onions with olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper, rubbing all over the onions. Add the onions onto the griddle pan and leave to cook and lightly char for about 2 minutes on each side. Leave to cool completely.
THE MARMITE BUTTER
Combine the softened butter and marmite and mix together until fully incorporated. Unless you are making this a day in advance, do not refrigerate as you want this to be easily spreadable.
TIP – Why not make a double batch – spread it on toast, add to a ragu, finish a steak with a spoonful or simply spread on a slice of babka for an extra marmite dose.
ASSEMBLING THE BABKA
Lay out a large sheet of baking parchment onto your work surface – this will help to roll up your babka.
Remove the babka dough from the fridge and then roll out on the baking parchment into a rectangle 55cm x 45cm.
Evenly spread the marmite butter over the surface of the dough and then scatter over the grated cheese in an even layer. Evenly distribute the spring onions over the cheese, running the length of the dough. I made a layer of 6 evenly-spaced rows of spring onions, with 2 spring onions per row. Finally, scatter over the sesame seeds.
Using the baking parchment to aid you, tightly roll up the babka as you would a Swiss-Roll.
TIP – You will need to cut the roll in half along it’s length to assemble the babka – this will be difficult if your dough is too soft. If you feel the dough is very soft and malleable, tightly cover the dough and transfer the roll to the freezer for 15 minutes to firm-up.
Cut the dough in half lengthways to expose the internal layers. With the cut-side facing upward, lay one half over the other to create an ‘X’. Working from the centre outward, plait the dough on each side, finishing by tucking the two ends of the dough under themselves.
Transfer the plaited dough into a parchment-lined loaf tin, and leave to prove for 2-3 hours.
BAKING THE BABKA
Preheat the oven to 150ºC (fan).
Transfer the babka to the oven for 1hour and 15minutes, Brushing the top with egg wash after 1hour.