Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Duo Sweet Bread

My first special thanks goes to my cousin Ioana who contaminated me with this virus called wild yeast/ sourdough, etc. And who insisted I should start a blog ;)
The second special thanks is to Codruta who meticulously detailed in her blog all the steps needed to grow my own yeast and with a rare passion for artisan bread she creates all her amazing breads.
The final thanks goes to Barbara, who challenged me to get into "serious" baking:) 
Ladies, this post is dedicated to you!

The idea of this lightly sweetened bread traces back to my childhood when my grandma, mother and aunt used to bake a kind of polish babka for the holidays, but the Jewish version, twisted. The amount of flour they used was not less than 8 to 10 kilos. I remember them taking turns when kneading that mass in a room with a temperature of 30 degrees C. An enormous amount of work and ingredients and a lot of preparation going on beforehand. Meanwhile I was stealing raw dough and by the time the goods were baked I already would have had my tummy filled up with it:). 

So, when Barbara announced the Panissimo theme this month, my mind started spinning. I was determined to use spelt. Why? Because I simply love the nutty flavor that whole spelt has when baked. Although when I tried the einkorn I had second thoughts:)
Then I had to decide what would make the bread different from any other spelt bread. That was the moment when the classic desert of my chilhood came into my mind – babka. Amazing flavor, impressive looking and great keeping quality. I tried to incorporate almost all the ingredients into it (except for milk, eggs and butter) but with a twist. The twist was using ground toasted walnuts instead of raw ones in the classic recipe, adding flax seeds for an extra nutty note. The bread is a great companion to a cup of coffee, milk or tea. And it complements well a sweet red wine. It is good with butter or jam or Nuttella:) Not to mention the smell in the kitchen while it bakes!

#Update: A huge thank you to the generous jury, Barbara and Sandra, and sponsor, Mulino Marino,  of Panissimo for selecting my bread! It is an honour, a great encouragement and also a higher standard from now on! Thank you!

I only used organic flours for both preferments and dough. I absolutely love high hydration breads, but this one is under 70% hydration. I confess my reluctance to use more water with whole spelt. People on tfl say it is better to keep it to 68%. But I tried to incorporate more water every time it got sticky in the process of kneading.

80 g white wheat starter at 100% hydration
100 g whole spelt starter at 60% hydration 
70 g white wheat
300 g whole spelt
200 g water
10 g salt
15 g cocoa unsweetend
100 g flax seeds previously soaked
100 g toasted and ground walnuts (next time I will simply crush them)
 85 g (but I should have added at least 100 g) of sunflower honey (from our own bees:))

Total amount of dough is 1060 grams.


1. Prepare the preferments 10-12 in advance. I started  feeding the spelt one at 60% a week before.
2. Mix all ingredients, except for salt and cocoa, cover and let sit for a 30 min autolyse. 
3. After the autolyse, add the salt and knead for a medium gluten development.
4. Take one third of the dough and knead it trying to incorporate all the cocoa. Add some rum flavor.
5. Place into oiled containers, cover and do 3 SF at 40 min. intervals. 
6. When preshaping the bread I put the colored dough on top of the other one. 

Wait 20-30 min. and give it the final shape. Place into a floured banneton, cover, let it proof. Mine took about 3 h. It might have used another 40 min more, but I was so impatient and it was midnight and the kids were waking up frequently so I put it in the oven! I used steam and convection for the first 20 min at 250 degrees, then lowered the temperature to 220 for another 40 min and turned the convection off. You just need to check it. When its properly baked, turn the oven off, slightly open the door and let it sit 5 min. Then take it out on a grill and let it  cool down. Meanwhile enjoy the smell!

Buon Appetito!


  1. I love the cacao marbling! A beautiful bread. Thank you for contributing it to Panissimo.

  2. Wonderful idea, very nice loaf ;)
    I am happy I have found you throough Panissimo :)
    Have a wonderful weekend

  3. what an amazing recipe and what a great heading story attached to it, thank you so much, I feel moved thinking that I may have give you an extra input to create this wonder, best of luck for your new botn blog!!!!