Justin Burke Samson’s Tahini Brioche Babka

One of Justin Burke-Samson’s signature recipes, inspired by his time at Kindred in Davidson, North Carolina, this pillowy Tahini Brioche Babka gets rich and nutty notes from tahini swirled into the dough. No wonder this Tahini Brioche Babka is a staple at his hot new bakery, Bonjour Y’all Bakery. Read more about how self-taught baker Justin Burke-Samson is rising to the top of the baking world through his thriving bakery in our January/February 2020 issue!

Justin Burke Samson’s Tahini Brioche Babka

Makes 2 (9×5-inch) loaves
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) warm whole milk (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) plus ½ teaspoon (2 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 large eggs (300 grams), divided
  • 2⅔ cups (334 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 5 tablespoons (80 grams) tahini*
  • 1 large egg yolk (19 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 grams) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (36 grams) benne seeds or sesame seeds

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm milk, yeast, and ½ teaspoon (2 grams) sugar by hand until yeast is dissolved. Whisk in 2 eggs (100 grams). Slowly fold in 1 cup (125 grams) flour until almost combined; sprinkle ⅓ cup (42 grams) flour on top. Let stand until top is cracked and sponge is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add 3 eggs (150 grams), tahini, egg yolk, salt, remaining 1⅓ cups (167 grams) flour, and remaining ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar to yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, beat at low speed until a dough starts to form. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until dough comes together around dough hook, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl. Add half of cold butter, and beat at high speed until combined. Add remaining cold butter, and beat until dough is smooth, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until dough comes together and pulls away from sides of bowl. (Dough should pass the windowpane test; see Note.)
  3. Lightly flour a medium bowl; scrape dough into bowl. Fold dough in half, and press down; turn dough over, fold again, and press down. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Butter 2 (9×5-inch) loaf pans.
  5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide in half. Roll one half into a 12×6-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle into 3 (12×2-inch) strips. Starting at top, braid strips together. Pinch ends of braid together, and place into 1 prepared pan, tucking ends under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size or until dough reaches top of pan, about 2 hours. To test if dough is ready, make a dent in dough about 1 inch deep. If dough springs back fully, it is not ready. If dent remains and springs back only a little bit, dough is properly proofed.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and remaining 1 egg (50 grams). Brush top of dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with seeds.
  8. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 200°F (93°C), 40 to 45 minutes, covering with foil after 35 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pans on a wire rack.

*Benne butter can be substituted.

Test the dough for proper gluten development by using the windowpane test. Pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute more, and test again.



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The most yummy of all – sourdough chocolate babka

I just realized I’ve only been posting sweet breads lately (haven’t heard anyone complaining though, which is a good thing).

It must be I’m compensating for something I’m missing in my life or just pure challenge and yumminess of the sweet dough. Whenever I can, I dream about soft, buttery dough and melting rich dark chocolate between shreadable layers.

I’ve been dreaming about babka for a long time. And I’ve tried my luck couple of times, but I wasn’t quite happy with the result. It was either too dry, to hard or not sweet.

Last week I was really amazed by all of your comments, kind words and your ideas on what you would like to try and bake in my last post. Some of you wrote you would like to bake babka. I was intrigued!

I tried it again this weekend and it came out perfectly. So today I would like to share the recipe for sourdough chocolate babka. The secret here is that I used very soft brioche dough that I also used for hot cross buns. What I find important is that one type of dough can be used for so many purposes. If you find one that works, stick to it 🙂

Hop on this sourdough babka trip with me! Only sweet, delicious, chocolaty and buttery things ahead.

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The winner is: Kathy Stahl. Congratulations! Please drop an e-mail to natasa@mydailysourdoughbread.com.
To all others who participated – big thank you!

Sourdough chocolate babka

Sourdough chocolate babka
Yields: 2 medium-sized babkas

Baking schedule:
The dough for the babka was mixed in the late afternoon, left to rise for 2 hours at room temperature, put in the fridge overnight, shaped in the morning, left to rise for couple of hours and baked in the afternoon of that day. 


Note: Baker’s percentages are put in brackets if you would like to scale up or down the formula.

80 g white wheat flour (bread flour)
20 g brown sugar
25 g active mother sourdough starter
35 g water

350 g white wheat flour (bread flour) (100%)
all of the above starter (appr. 160g) (42%)
2 eggs (appr. 100 g) (28%)
50 g brown sugar (12%)
85 g unsalted softened butter (24%)
7 g salt (2%)
110 g milk (31%)  *

* NOTE: Please feel free to add more liquid (steps of 10 g), if you feel the dough is too stiff and all the flour is difficult to incorporate. Don’t be tempted to add a lot of liquid as you add butter in the second stage of dough mixing which softens the dough.

Chocolate filling
130 g melted dark chocolate (I used 70%)
120 g melted butter
10 g cocoa powder
10 g powdered brown sugar
50 g roughly chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (optional)


Sourdough starter
1. In the morning, prepare your sourdough starter. The starter will be stiff, more like a dough. Leave it to ferment until doubled in volume. This may take from 4-12 hours, depending on the environment temperature and strength of your mother starter. If your starter doubles very fast but you are not ready to make the dough, put the jar in the fridge.

2. In the late afternoon mix the dough. /NOTE: I used mixer to knead the dough. / In a large mixing bowl put milk, starter, sugar, eggs, flour and salt. Mix everything together. If the dough feels dry, don’t be tempted to add too much of additional liquid – mixing in the butter in the following phase will soften the dough (experiment with the softness of the dough) – but do add the liquid if you can’t incorporate all the flour. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes and then leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes.

3. Next, knead in half of the butter quantity. Once completely integrated, add and knead in the other half. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes (it is advisable to use mixer) until smooth and elastic – check how transparent can the dough be if you stretch it. If you feel the gluten is not developing well, leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes and you will be able to notice the change. Shape the dough into ball and place it into clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to ferment at the room temperature for 2 hours, then put the bowl into the fridge overnight.

4. In the morning, first prepare the filling. Mix together melted chocolate and melted butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. The batter will be runny. Put the filling to a fridge for at least half an hour or until the batter starts to thicken up and feel spreadable (like Nutella for example) – see photos below.
Also, prepare two tins and line them with parchement paper. I used one 25 cm (9.8 in) long and other 18 cm (7 in) long.

5. When the filling is ready, take the dough out of the fridge and place it on slighlty floured surface. Roll the dough into sqaure measuring approximately 45×45 cm (appr.18×18 in) and to be 4-5 mm thick. When done, spread the filling across the dough, leaving 1-1.5 cm (half inch) edge. If you want, sprinkle some roughly chopped chocolate or chocolate chips across the dough. Tightly roll the dough into log. Trim the ends if necessary.

Sourdough chocolate babka

6. Next, take a sharp knife and cut the log in half lengthwise all the way through – see the photo below. To shape the babka, take one half and place it over the other and than simply braid these two halves. Cut the braided dough to fit your tins.

7. Leave the babkas to rise until approximately doubled in volume. Final rise may take 4-7 hours, it’s temperature depending. My needed 5 hours. When the babkas are almost risen, preheat the oven to 220°C/428°F.  Put in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 220°C/428°F, then decrease to 200°C/392°C and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until nicely baked.

Sourdough chocolate babka

8. When baked, take the babkas from the tins and leave them to cool on a cooling rack. If eaten fresh, the babka will literally melt in your mouth, it’s so soft.

Sourdough chocolate babka

Don’t forget to share the experience if you try them – tag me with @mydailysourdoughbread on Instagram or let me know in the comment below 😉

The post The most yummy of all – sourdough chocolate babka appeared first on My Daily Sourdough Bread.