wild garlic pesto babka
One of the things about living just so slightly further north than London is that the weather is just that teeny bit colder. Obviously I’m talking micro-figures here but all the same it does have an effect on the crops and what this means for a keen forager is that the wild garlic season is ever so slightly later than down south. For all the wild garlic furore over on social media I have to sit and twiddle my thumbs until ours has matured before I could make this wild garlic pesto babka.
But it’s worth the wait and this babka is so much more than just a wild garlic babka. I have little nettle tips in there as well as some fresh baby salad leaves and even some basil that was beginning to look a little sad on my window sill.
The babka has also become a bit of an internet sensation recently. I guess it looks so pretty all twisted around revealing its insides on the outsides. It’s a Jewish bread from Eastern Europe, like a bejewelled challah in that its ingredients are similar and it has an almost brioche-like sweetness. However my version is babka in looks only. I’m using a wholemeal and white flour unsweetened dough which makes a more robust loaf and with the addition of the wild garlic simply makes it a fancy garlic bread.
It’s a sloppy old mess to make but well worth it and pretty simple really.
for the wild garlic pesto
- 150g foraged mixed green leaves – I used wild garlic leaves, young nettle tips, basil and baby salad leaves
- 50g parmesan or strong cheddar, finely grated
- 1 garlic clove , finely chopped
- ½ lemon , zested and a few squeezes of juice
- 50g organic walnuts , toasted
- 150ml extra virgin olive oil
To make the pesto simple chop the leaves and then add everything to a blender and whizz until you have a thick puree. I used my nutribullet but a food processor or even a bowl and stick blender should do it. Set aside whilst you make the bread.
for the bread
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 200g wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon / 7g / 1 sachet fast action dried yeast
- one teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 400ml tepid water
Bring everything together in a bowl and knead for 10 mins. I do this in my stand mixer with a dough hook but by hand on a slightly oiled surface is perfect.
Oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough into it. Cover with clingfilm and set aside for 1 and a half hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough has proved, roll it out on a floured surface to roughly 5ocm x 40cm. Spread the pesto all over (you’ll probably use half the amount you’ve made – the rest can be frozen in ice cube trays.) and then roll up the long edge into a tight sausage.
Cut the rolled dough and pesto sausage lengthways down the middle so you have 2 long strands. A bread knife is the best implement for this. Now, squish the two lengths together at one end and twist the two strands together as though plaiting. Try and ensure that the cut edges of the strands are on the outside so that the pesto is exposed.
The plaited loaf will stretch and be quite long but you can smoosh is shorter or simply cut it in the middle and make two loaves.
Place the loaf into a lined baking tin. Any kind of tin will work. A loaf tin or a cake tin. (You can create a snail bread in a cake tin by running the plaited dough around the inside of the tin.) Set aside for an hour for its second prove whilst you pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan)
Bake for 35-45 mins or until it’s well risen and golden. It should feel firm to the touch and sound slightly hollow when you tap it. Set aside on a wire rack for at least 45 mins before you slice it.
Eat and of course, enjoy!