And so it is the weekend again. After a good sleep in (despite some early woofing protests from little Duck), by 8am it was time for breakfast. Quite often, Big Duck gets sent to our local bakery on a cheesymite scroll and scone errand. This weekend however, I decided to #getwifey (… it rarely happens) and make him one of my own. Adapting a traditionally sweet bread recipe from MyJewishLearning.com I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. Thankfully the answer was DELICIOUS. Just in time for Australia Day, this vegemite and cheese babka is a cracker. Try it at home or impress the bloody shit out of your holiday BBQ guests.
Warm your milk in the microwave for 20-30 secs. Pour into a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the milk (to help feed the yeast) and stir lightly. Leave it to start getting foamy for around 5-7 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar, two eggs and egg yolk to the bowl of an electric mixer (or a big bowl if you're using a hand beater) and mix for 10-20 seconds. Then add in your yeast mixture and mix again lightly until combined.
Add your 3 cups of flour and salt to the bowl, beating on a low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Swap out your mixer attachment for a dough hook.
Add 115g of butter and continue mixing until the dough starts to just form a type of smooth, bouncy yet sticky looking dough (around 5-10 minutes, less if you're not doing it with a KitchenAid or other mixer) . You should just be able to pull the dough off the hook without it sticking to your hands.
Add a bit of flour to your kitchen bench, then tip out the dough and gently form and roll it about into a ball with your hands. Grease a big mixing bowl with some butter, plop your dough into it and cover with plastic film to rest and rise in a warm spot for up to an hour.
While that's rising, time to make the crackly topping. Grab another bowl and add your flour and butter. Rub together with your fingers until the mix resembles breadcrumbs (if it's still a bit sticky just add a tad more flour), then pour in your parmesan and mix until just combined.
Time to assemble and get your bake on!
Pre-heat your oven to 180C (fan forced) or 350F. Pick a sexy looking loaf or bundt pan and rub it all about with a bit of butter to help stop your delicious creation from sticking while baking (it still will in parts because of the filling, but #life). Grab another bowl and make your egg wash by whisking an egg with a tablespoon of milk.
Let's make magic happen. After sprinkling some flour on your bench, roll out your dough in a rectangle shape to about 1/4 inch thick. Note: If you go any thinner you'll end up with heaps of filling layers, which seems like a good idea at the time but gets pretty sickly pretty quickly when it comes to eating time. Trust me, I'm all for generosity, but this is one of these times where less really is more.
Brush the edges of the rectangle with egg wash, about 1/2 inch from the edge.
Pop some vegemite in a microwave safe bowl and nuke for around 15 seconds to make it easier to spread. Then, dollop it in the middle of your dough and smooth out with a knife until it meets the egg wash border. Next, sprinkle the vegemite evenly with shredded cheese.
Starting on one long side of your rectangle, start rolling the dough up tightly into a snake or jelly roll.
Pinch the ends together to seal, then twist the roll around a few times. Fold the whole length of dough in half, then pop the whole thing in your baking tin.
Brush the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle with your streusel mix and pat in lightly so it sticks to the top. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let in sit in a warm place again for up to 30 minutes. Have a cup of tea in the meantime and pat yourself on the back for being a champ.
When you can't resist anymore, pop your soon to be legendary babka in the oven and let it bubble away and cook until deliciously golden (around 35-40 minutes, but check progress at around the 30 minute mark). Really, you're looking for a wooden skewer to come out clean and a crispy crumble top.
Try to let it cool slightly so you don't scold your mouth on molten lava cheese, but knowing how good this thing smells and tastes... girl, you do you. You earned that burn. Enjoy!!