Babka knots! Well not really, since babka usually equates to a chocolate cinnamon filling of which mine is not…. BUT- Hold on a second. This one’s a black sesame filling inspired by my very Taiwanese roots. You know those “Tangyuans,” the one’s with black sesame in them? Here they are for reference by the way. These kind of big bread knots tastes just like them! Except in a bread form. Right? Mind boggling, I know.
The bread itself is actually made from a truly purple potato bought from Zion Market. The one in Koreatown that I went to amazingly had this variety (The Irvine one doesn’t though, sadly). I also included some ube halaya jam (basically purple potato in a paste with some sugar!) in the bread dough and that gave it a wonderfully light purple color that I was looking for all along. Just for your information, I always hand knead my dough because I have traumatized by the mixer’s dough kneading, sadly. The first time I ever made bread- probably two years ago now- it turned out to be a great, yeasty mess. The second time I made bread, the recipe turned out to have asked for way too much water. It took like 45 minutes to come together on high speed. This was not before adding a ton of flour, more than what was asked for by the recipe. Anyways, this recipe is inspired by my ardent love of sweet purple potato and black sesame. Black sesame- for those of you who’ve never tried it, basically tastes like peanut butter. Trust me. Just think of it as a darker tahini, or crushed peanuts. Whatever you’d like. The two flavors match very well together and I’m happy how they turned out.
Y’all know I’m a big fan of bread making books and when I was at the Wu Pao Chun Bakery in Taiwan this summer, (I mentioned it a lot in my other post on Purple Yam Pineapple Buns) there were a ton of bread shaping books- in Chinese of course. I live for the picture demonstrations. These twisted ones were a shaped inspired by one of the picture demonstrations in a certain book (of which I don’t remember its Chinese name). How unfortunate. By shaping it into such, you get more of the filling and the bread- it’s pretty much evenly distributed throughout the inside and outside of the bread. Enjoy this one and give it a try!
Tips and Tricks:
- Use your discretion on the bread dough texture. Since I’ve been making bread by hand for a while, I can kind of tell if the dough is too wet or dry. Of course, you can do this in a machine if that is more convenient for you.
- If you hand knead or machine knead the dough, make sure it is smooth and at window-pane stage before letting to proof for 2 hours or until double in size. This means that if you pull a small section of your dough, and it does not break apart after stretching it out, then it is ready to go. This staged will be reached after about 15-20 minutes of hand kneading and probably half to 3/4 the time if machine kneading.
- Rolling these up will get messy. The filling itself may look a little loose but trust me, the whole thing will come together, Just you wait. This is why I recommend not overfilling the bread dough. Otherwise, you’ll be spending a lot of time cleaning the counter of black sesame crumbs. Not that it doesn’t taste absolutely amazing though.
- ***Please read this multiple times before beginning!!! The bread shaping technique: This is an important one. After rolling your dough out about 15″ or so in length, you will spread over the filling. Be sure not to overload. Then, you will fold the top third down and the bottom third up. This way your bread dough should now be 15″ in length and about 4-5″ in width. And it won’t be that thick since we are rolling it up. Cut the dough into 11 equal pieces (you could do this as you go. For example, you shape one bread and cut the next 1.5″ piece). This does not have to be exact. Do not worry if you do not have 11 pieces (over or under is fine). Taking your 1.5″ piece (it should be 4-5 inches long) cut this in half, BUT leave the strip detached at the top. Now it should look somewhat like a pair of wooden chopsticks, attached at the top but detached at the bottom. Taking one side of the strip twirl it and do the same with the other strip. Since they are attached at the top, nothing will fall out. Trust me on this! Then, as if braiding two strands of hair, wrap the twists over each other until you get to the bottom (where the strip is detached). Taking two fingers on your left hand, making sideways peace sign and wrap the twisted bread/filling strip over those two fingers twice, and on the third turn, place the remaining part of the strip under the bread dough, so that the filling of bread dough do not unravel. Basically in simple terms, you’re just making a circle out of a twisted strip of dough/filling.
- I think thats the only tough part, Yay!
- 7g instant yeast (not active dry)
- 200g water, room temperature
- 3 tsp white granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp of that reserved
- 2 eggs, room temperature (60g each)
- 50g ube halaya jam
- 123g baked or steamed purple potato
- 510g bread flour (give or take 50g, have more on set)
- pinch of salt
- 33g butter, room temperature
- 1 egg white
- 70g ground black sesame
- 27g butter, room temperature
- 70g white granulated sugar
- ***Ingredients are listed in order. Bread first, Filling second. Place instant yeast in room temperature water. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar to this mixture. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Mix 2 eggs, ube halaya jam, and cooked potato together. I baked the purple potato at 430 F for about 45 minutes.
- Mix the flour, remaining 2.5 tsp of sugar and pinch of salt together. Add both liquid mixtures from 1. and 2.
- Knead for 5 minutes. Then add your butter.
- Knead for and additional 15-20 minutes if using your hands, until windowpane stage is reached. Read my Tips and Tricks section for more on that.
- Cover and let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- For the filling, mix the egg white, ground sesame, butter, and sugar together until a smooth paste is formed. If you like it more sweet, add more sugar. Do your thing! I find that this level of sweetness is just right.
- Follow the shaping instructions in my Tips and Tricks section. After shaping, let rise for 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Baked at 375 F for 10 minutes. Enjoy! These are best eaten the day of, or within 2 days of baking.