Feta and Pomegranate Molasses Babka

Work of art or savoury babka filling with feta, pomegranate molasses and sumac?

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Savoury babka you say? There is no good reason for you not to get in the kitchen and make this immediately. I was very loosely inspired by Molly Yeh’s za’atar mini babkas but as you can quickly see: they really are quite a long way from them.

Za’atar was lacking in our local supermarket, labneh non-existent (and I was too impatient to embark on making my own), and all the mini babkas seemed like too much effort when I wasn’t convinced that all the changes I’d made would even result in something edible anyway.

I should have made them in mini. This is so ridiculously good as a bread- deeply savoury from the cheese, a kick from the chilli flakes and acidic from the pomegranate molasses and sumac. I ate it grilled for breakfast for several days afterwards, with a big smear of honey on top, and cannot recommend that enough.

Perhaps in a future recipe I’ll do these again in mini, with a honey glaze already thoughtfully provided on top, but this giant babka is just good not to share in the meantime.

Feta and Pomegranate Molasses Babka

Feta and Pomegranate Molasses Babka

Ingredients

  • Babka dough - I used my babka dough without the sugar
  • 150g feta
  • 100g skyr or labneh
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • Pomegranate Molasses
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Fresh thmye

Instructions

  • Once you've made the babka dough and let it had it's first rise, roll it out into the biggest rectangle you can manage. Thinly spread over the skyr or labneh - this is the 'glue' that will hold all the filling together so try to get it all over your base. Then, sprinkle over the feta, sumac, chilli flakes and thyme leaves, finishing with a drizzle of the pomegrante molasses. Think Jackson Pollock painting.
  • To roll it up, start at the largest edge and roll as tightly as you can the whole way across until you have a thick log. Take a serrated knife and cut the log in half, and then twist the two strands together. This will be much longer than your loaf tin, but squash it in. Let the dough rise and puff up for an hour at room temperature, and then bake at 200 C for 35 mins.
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    Spinach Quiche

    Have you ever misguidedly bought a bag of frozen spinach, only to bung in the freezer, in the hope it will be easy to add to meals? Except of course it isn’t, because the older, tougher frozen leaves are just not as good as fresh baby spinach. Perhaps it’s the stuff I’m buying, but if you have some sad frozen leaves lurking in your freezer, this is a very good way to turn in it into a much more delicious spinach quiche (cheese makes everything better, as well all know).

    I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, jiggled around a bit to suit English ingredients. And the pastry recipe recommended is spot on. I used t0 hate making pastry until I realised it is so much better behaved if you make it in the food processor so that the butter and flour is really well combined. Once you’ve done that it is so much simpler to roll out and line a tin. Make the full quantity, divide in two and put one half back in the freezer so you can make this quiche again when you realise how good it is. You’ll thank me later.

    PS – you really go want to let the spinach thaw, and then press as much water out as you can. I gave it some really hard squeezes with my hands which while cold, was effective. Using a potato rice would no doubt would work just was well without the risk of frozen fingers.

    Spinach Quiche

    Spinach Quiche

    Ingredients

    • 300g flour
    • 150g cold butter
    • Pinch salt
    • 85g cream cheese
    • 1/3 cup double cream
    • 3 eggs
    • 280g frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
    • 100g cheddar, grated
    • 4 spring onions, finely sliced

    Instructions

  • To make the pastry, pop your flour and cold butter in a food processor along with the salt and pulse until combined. Add in enough ice cold water to bind it together into a large round, then divide the dough in half. Pop half in the freezer for another time, and then press the other half into a 9 inch quiche disk. Blind bake this for 10 mins at 200C.
  • To make the filling, beat the cream cheese along with the eggs and cream until smooth. Mix in the spinach, spring onions and some salt and pepper before pouring into the tart base. Bake for 25 minutes until set and turning golden brown.
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    Shakshuka Foccacia

    Now look: I realise it’s only the 10th January but I still think this shakshuka foccacia is going to be one of the best brunch items I make this year. 

    With the pillowy dough, spicy sauce and perfectly runny eggs, how can it not be? Shakshuka has to be one of the most instagrammed brunch items after avocado on toast – I’ve made plain and spanish style versions before – but combining your bread and eggs into one is a real stroke of genius that is new to me.

    I found this recipe in a round up for some of Food 52’s favourite recipes from 2016, but rather than the original 8 person serving, I’ve scaled this down so it’s the perfect breakfast for two. Get your dough and tomato sauce made the night before, and then it’s just a matter of assembling in the morning for your breakfast-in-bread.

    One of my resolutions for this year is too cook a new recipe a week, but given this was my week 1 starting point, I reckon the rest of this year is going to have a pretty tough act to follow.

    Shakshuka Foccacia

    Shakshuka Foccacia

    Ingredients

    • 200g strong plain flour
    • 7g instant yeast
    • 5g salt
    • 60ml olive oil
    • 150ml water
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • Tin chopped tomatoes
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 2 eggs

    Instructions

  • The night before you want to eat this, begin by making the foccacia. Mix together the flour, salt and yeast before gradually adding the oil and water until you form a sticky dough. Knead it a couple of times on an oiled worksurface and then it into an oiled bowl in the fridge to rise over night.
  • You can also make the tomato sauce ahead of time - gently fry together the onion, chilli and garlic before adding the tinned tomatoes, honey and spices. Simmer for 40 minutes until the colour has darkened and the sauce thickened.
  • The next morning, tip the dough into a small baking tin with high edges. Let it sit for an hour until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C, and and make two deep wells in the bread, where you will later add the tomatoes and eggs. Create more space than seem necessary to avoid the egg overflowing down the sides of the bread.
  • Bake the bread for 15 minutes, before pulling out of the oven and spooning in the tomato sauce. Break one egg at a time into a jug and then pour into the centre of each well. Bake for another 7 minutes until the whites are set.
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