PALAK PANEER BABKA
Palak paneer babka anyone?? Palak paneer is a very popular Punjabi dish which is an all time favourite of any hardcore Punjabi... my Indian heritage and genes were screaming out loud within me to try my hands on a bread which will take this dish to the next level.
It was my first attempt and I was pretty pleased with the outcome...I baked this bread in the night and the aroma of this freshly baked bread in my kitchen was so irresistible and inviting that my whole family was galvanised to dig into it straight from the oven....it was so so hard for me to stop everyone from digging into it before I could take the shot to post. Finally my son tasted the bread in the morning and said, mum it tastes divine & is just like having a palak paneer with parantha.
Palak means spinach and paneer means cottage cheese without salt, which is made by curdling the milk. It’s a very popular dish served in any North Indian restaurant which everyone loves. A simple little spin on the heritage and traditional recipe which is full of nutrition and a great source of iron and protein.
YIELDS: 2 loaves
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
BAKING TIME: 55 minutes
PASSIVE TIME: 2 hours 30 minutes
5 cups to 5 1/4 cups all purpose flour (plus a little extra for the work surface)
3 eggs, room temperature
400g frozen spinach, defrosted & puréed
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp caster sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
150g butter, room temperature, diced
350g paneer, grated
1 tsp dried kasuri methi
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2” piece ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp ghee, melted
1 tbsp, ghee (extra)
In a stand mixer bowl, combine water and yeast, and let stand for 5-7 minutes until yeast is dissolved.
To this add eggs, milk, salt, sugar, spinach purée, onion powder and garlic powder and mix with the hook attachment until they are well combined.
Add 5 cups of flour and knead on a low speed for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together but still little shaggy.
Leaving the stand mixer on, add a knob of butter at a time until it’s barely incorporated before you add the next knob. Keep adding until all of the butter is incorporated in the dough.
Continue kneading for another 5 minutes until the dough is silky smooth and elastic. If the dough twirls around the hook and won’t form a smooth ball, add 1/4 cup of flour or as needed to form a ball.
Grease a large bowl with butter and transfer the dough into it, cover with plastic wrap and leave for one and a half hour and let rise until double in size.
To Make The Filling:
In a bowl, add paneer, ginger, green chili, kasuri methi, salt and 3 tbsp ghee. Mix them to combine well. Keep aside.
To Assemble Babka:
Line 2 ( 10”x 4”) loaf pans with parchment paper, with paper hanging over from the longer sides of the pan.
Drop the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until pliable. Divide the dough into two halves.
Roll one half of the dough into 10x 14” rectangle, with the short end facing you. Spread half of the filling keeping 1” margin on the borders.
Roll the dough carefully from the shortest end in front of you and form a log. Secure the filling by pinching the dough end to seal. Gently cut the log into half lengthwise.
Keeping the cut side up, join one end of each of the two halves together, then twist the halves around each other, forming a spiral. Join and press the two halves together at the other end. Carefully transfer the dough into the prepared loaf pan.
Repeat steps 3-5 with the other half of the dough to make another loaf. Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and let them rest to prove for an hour.
Bake in a preheated over at 180° C. Lightly brush the top of loaves with melted ghee and bake in the oven for about 45-55 minutes or until it’s golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Let the loaves cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges to release from baking pan and let it cool on wire rack completely.
It’s best served warm but you can keep the loaves covered properly in plastic bag in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Unsliced bread can also be stored in the freezer, wrapped in aluminium foil and covered properly with plastic bag for up to 3 month.