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Muffuletta Babka

Even when you think it’ll be a total mess, it somehow always ends up looking great after it’s baked.

Muffuletta is one of the planet’s greatest sandwich offerings, hailing from the great city in of New Orleans. In this recipe, its contents get wrapped and twisted in egg-enriched babka dough. Even when your filling is spilling everywhere and all hope seems to be lost, the loaf somehow comes out of the oven looking great.

Ingredients

Makes 1 babka
  • 1 babka dough
  • 1 olive salad
  • 3 thin slices Genoa salami
  • 2 thin slices mortadella
  • 4 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 4 thin slices coppa
  • 3 thin slices ham
  • 3 thin slices hot soppressata
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T sesame seeds

Babka dough

  • 280 g (just over 2 1/4 C) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 1/4 oz (2 1/4 t) package active dry yeast
  • 1 t sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 t kosher salt

Olive Salad

  • 1/4 C pitted, finely chopped green olives such as Cerignola
  • 1/4 C pitted, finely chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 T finely chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1 t chopped capers
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 garlic clove, grated
  • + freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Make the Olive Salad

  1. In a small bowl, combine the olives, red peppers, parsley, capers, olive oil, red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic and pepper.

Make the Babka Dough

Babka dough
  • 280 g (just over 2 1/4 C) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 1/4 oz (2 1/4 t) package active dry yeast
  • 1 t sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 t kosher salt

This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz who adapted it from Honey and Co. The Baking Book.The butter really truly does have to be at room temperature in order to be incorporated into the dough, so make sure it’s soft enough that you can easily indent it with your finger. If you need it to soften quickly, cut it into very small pieces.

  1. Measure the flour into a small bowl.

  2. On the stovetop or in a microwave, warm the milk just a little—dab a few drops on your wrist. It should feel like a lukewarm bath, not hot.

  3. Put the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Add the sugar, the warm milk and a few spoonfuls of the flour. Stir it all together and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The mixture should get frothy and puffy as the yeast are activated.

  4. With the stand mixer on medium speed, add the butter, egg and salt and mix until combined. Add the flour a little at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping the bowl to make sure it all gets incorporated. Mix the dough on medium speed for five minutes. You should have a lovely, supple (but not sticky) ball of dough. At this point you can let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature, or you can cover it loosely and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. (Don’t worry if it doesn’t double in volume, enriched doughs often don’t.)

Make the Babka

  1. Butter a loaf pan or line it with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a roughly rectangular oblong, about 10 by 16 inches. Scatter the salad over the dough, leaving a clean 2-inch border on all sides. Press the salad into the dough lightly with the palm of your hand. Lay the 3 slices of salami in a row along the middle of the dough, the long way. Repeat with the mortadella, provolone cheese, coppa, ham and soppressata.

  2. Starting at one long end, tightly roll the dough up into a log, sealing the filling inside. (You may need to tuck the cold cuts back as you roll, to prevent them from spilling out the end.) Gently press the ends of the roll closed and gently pinch the seam to seal. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the log directly down the middle the long way, creating two long, thin strips.

  3. Starting at one end, pinch two ends together and then lift one strip over the other, repeating all the way down to form a twist, like a rope. Pinch the bottom two ends together. Try to keep the filling inside the strips of dough, but don’t worry if it’s a little messy. Cup your hands around the ends of the babka and press your hands towards each other to scrunch the babka a bit. Gently, quickly lift it into the loaf pan. You can squish it a bit to fit if you need to. Let the babka rise in the pan at room temperature for two hours.

  4. Heat the oven to 350°F. Brush the egg all over the top of the loaf. Scatter the sesame seeds on top. Bake the babka for 40–45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan before slicing.