Black Sesame Tangzhong Babka

June  6, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 1 loaf
  • Tangzhong
  • 25 grams bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Black sesame dough
  • 275 grams bread flour
  • 75 grams rye flour
  • 45 grams (3 tablespoons) ground black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 65 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 30 grams unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • Chocolate-nut filling
  • 65 grams dark chocolate
  • 60 grams unsalted butter
  • 25 grams powdered sugar
  • 15 grams cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 65 grams walnuts, pecans, and almonds (or a mix of your choice), toasted and chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
In This Recipe
  1. For the tangzhong: Mix flour with water until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat in a saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon, until thick. When swirling wooden spoon around pan, you should be able to see visibly the echoes of the swirl. Transfer to a clean bowl. Take a piece of plastic wrap and gently press it against the surface of the tangzhong. Let cool.
  2. For the black sesame dough: Heat milk slightly until lukewarm. Add in yeast and proof for 5 to 10 minutes. You should see a thick layer of foam, indicating the yeast is active.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift in bread flour, rye flour, black sesame, salt, and sugar. Add in foamy yeast/milk mixture, tangzhong, and beaten egg. Using a paddle attachment, mix on medium-high. Add butter, one chunk at a time, until smooth. Continue mixing on medium-high for about 15 to 20 minutes, until elastic, supple, and super smooth. (Dough will be sticky; don't worry.)
  4. Turn out onto a greased bowl, and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in size, around 1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  5. For the chocolate-nut filling: Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon; mixture should form a spreadable paste.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Roll into a large 24-inch square. Spread filling evenly over dough, sprinkling chopped nuts all around, and then roll dough up, starting from the short edge. Use a sharp knife and slice through the middle down the length of the dough. Twist two halves over each other and place in a parchment-lined loaf pan, tucking the edges underneath. Cover with plastic and let rise for another 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. After rising, brush loaf with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and serve warm.

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Manuel Betancourt is a New York City-based writer. He’s a pop culture enthusiast, an amateur baker, and an eternal Buffy fan. His work has appeared in Film Comment, The Atlantic, Vice, INTO, and Esquire, among others. He’s a regular contributor to Remezcla, Electric Literature, and one of the co-authors of the middle-grade graphic novel The Cardboard Kingdom.