SLIDER

plum and walnut babka



When I brought this babka into work one of my colleagues asked if I had a plum tree in the garden. No I don't have a plum tree but 'I wish' was my reply, because I love baking with plums. This babka came about following my epic fail making an apple babka inspired by a recipe by Uri Sheff. The dough didn't rise very much; there wasn't enough filling for the babka; when I twisted the dough as per the instructions the filling fell out and I didn't make quite enough syrup to moisten the cake when it came out of the oven. Despite all this, the apple babka tasted pretty good. Uri mentioned the babka worked well with plums so away I went to work on my own plum version. 




I used my cinnamon and walnut babka recipe as a base then topped the lot with some oven baked plums. I then kept my fingers crossed that it would all work out. Thankfully it did and I can't tell you how good a slice of this was still warm from the oven. Now making babka is a fiddle, I'm not going to lie. There are many steps and it takes 1-2 days from beginning to end but for a lot of this time the dough is resting. Many recipes make two babkas but as my freezer is small I have no place to store a second babka so I only made one and a large one at that.



Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Plum Walnut Babka
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 to 2 tbls milk or water
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar


Oven Baked Plums
500g deseeded plums, sliced
1½ tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the sliced plums into medium, shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the plums are just tender. Cover and leave in the switched off oven until cold then refrigerate until needed.

Yeast Mixture
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp flour
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup warm milk

Dough
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter

Filling
80 g soft butter
100 g brown sugar
1 tsp golden or maple syrup
4 tsp ground cinnamon
50 g almond meal
50g toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Syrup
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp sugar and the lukewarm milk. Cover and set to one side for about 10 minutes until the mixture froths up, then continue on with the rest of the recipe.
For the dough, sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Add the sugar then rub in the softened butter. In a small jug, combine the egg and vanilla and add sufficient milk or water to make ¼ cup of liquid. Add the yeast mixture to the flour followed by the egg mixture and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes before removing the soft dough and placing into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour before placing the dough in the fridge to rest overnight.

The following day bring the dough back to room temperature while you prepare the filling. Grease and line the base and sides of a loaf pan with non-stick baking paper. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, the syrup and the ground cinnamon. Mix in the almond meal to form a paste, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture. Drain the plum slices.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 cm). Trim the sides to make them even, then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ in/2 cm border all around. Top with the drained plum slices, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the plums. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.



Trim about ¾ in/2 cm off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lift the left half over the right, to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into the loaf pan. Place the tin into a plastic bag, tie loosely and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. The cake will rise by 10 to 20 percent. 



Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully. Remove the babka from the plastic bag then place the babka on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

The plum babka is pretty juicy so you may want to skip the syrup. Otherwise while the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan; place over medium heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat and simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the syrup over. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cake until it is just warm, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely before serving.



This makes a very moist but absolutely scrumptious cake which could last 3-4 days but it's always been eaten well before then.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

Jillian


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