The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Matcha Black Sesame Sourdough Babka Wreath with Yuzu Glaze

Benito's picture

Matcha Black Sesame Sourdough Babka Wreath with Yuzu Glaze

Wanting to recover from my last two disasters of babka bakes and applying what I learned from them.  We do truly learn more from our disasters than our successes (thanks Dan).  I decided to try to use some Matcha powder I recently purchased and make a babka with a much drier filling that would avoid the pitfalls of soggy crumb.  I am adapting the same recipe for sourdough babka by Maurizio of  

At the end of bulk fermentation and shaped into an angel food pan.


Total Dough Weight

800 grams

Pre-fermented Flour



One babka for a 9″ x 4″ x 4″ Pullman pan (without lid)

Total Formula



Baker’s Percentage


All-purpose flour (11-12% protein; King Arthur All-Purpose Flour)



Whole milk (cold from the fridge)



Large eggs (about 2, cold from the fridge, plus one more egg in reserve for the egg wash)



Unsalted butter (Kerrygold; room temperature)






Caster sugar (superfine white sugar)






Sourdough starter (100% hydration)


18  g

Matcha Powder 




Dough Mix

My final dough temperature for this dough was 76°F (24°C).



310 g

All-purpose flour (11-12% protein; King Arthur All-Purpose Flour)

107 g

Whole milk (cold from the fridge)

107 g

Large eggs (about 2; cold from the fridge)

100 g

Unsalted butter (Kerrygold; room temperature)

29 g

Caster sugar (superfine white sugar)

8 g


138 g

Mature, but mild, levain

18 g

Matcha Powder

Levain Build 6 hours

30 g starter 100% hydration, 60 g bread flour and 60 g water.  Should be mature in about 5-6 hours at 78-80ºF. 

2. Mix – 1:00 p.m.

Before mixing, take out the butter called for in the recipe and cut it into 1/2″ pats. Let it sit at room temperature until called for.

I used my KitchenAid stand mixer to mix this dough. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the mature levain, flour, matcha powder, whole milk, large eggs, salt, and half of the sugar. Set the mixer to low and mix until everything is incorporated. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minute rest, turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 5 minutes until the dough starts to pull from the sides of the mixing bowl. At this point, slowly stream in the remaining sugar while the mixer is running. Mix for another 1-2 minutes until the dough comes back together.

With the mixer still set to medium, add the room temperature butter, one pat at a time, waiting to add the next until the previous is absorbed into the dough. It might take around 5 minutes to mix all the butter into the dough. After all of the butter is added, continue mixing for another few minutes until the dough smooths out and once again begins to cling to the dough hook. The dough should be almost fully developed at this point (it won’t completely pass the windowpane test, but almost).

Transfer the dough to a container for bulk fermentation, cover, and keep somewhere warm—78-80°F (26-27°C)—in your kitchen for bulk fermentation.

3. Warm Bulk Fermentation – 1:25 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (or longer, as needed)

During this time, give the dough 2 sets of stretch and folds where the first set is 30 minutes after the beginning of bulk fermentation and the second set is 30 minutes after the first. After the second set, let the dough rest, covered, until the next step.

4. Cold Bulk Fermentation – 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. (next day)

Assess the dough: has it risen a little in the bowl during the warm bulk fermentation? It should be a little puffy and smoothed out. If it looks like there’s no activity at all, give the dough another 30 minutes to 1 hour and check again.

Once you see some rise in the dough, place the covered bulk fermentation bowl into the refrigerator overnight.

Same day option: I much prefer making this over the course of two days, but you could make this all in one day: let the dough finish bulk fermentation for 2-3 hours on the counter. When the dough has risen around 50% and feels puffy, proceed with the rest of the steps below. However, I do recommend placing the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour after this warm bulk fermentation to chill before rolling out!

5. Roll, freeze, cut, and shape – 8:00 a.m.

Before taking the dough out of the refrigerator, make one of the fillings below (keep the filling covered until ready to use). 


Black Sesame Filling

150 g ground black sesame seeds, use mortar and pestle to grind

37.5 g sugar mix with ground black sesame seeds 


64 g honey

21 g butter room temperature 

Cream together honey and butter to make smooth spread


I had too much of the sesame and sugar mix, could reduce by 25-30% I think.


In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape the dough out to a floured work surface. Flour the top of the dough and using a rolling pin (or dowel), roll the dough out to a rectangle approximately 16″ x 12″ in size with a short edge closest to your body. 

If you want a less-sweet, less-sticky babka, spread less filling over the rolled out dough.

Using your hand or an offset spatula, spread the honey butter mixture over the dough leaving about 1″ clean on the short side farthest from you. Sprinkle the sesame sugar mixture over the dough.  Starting at the side closest to you, roll up the dough into a tight cylinder. It’s important for the dough to be rolled up rather tight, so pull the dough at each revolution of the cylinder.


Important: Place the rolled-up log on a baking sheet and place it into the freezer for 15 minutes (this makes it much easier to cut and braid).

Using an angel food cake pan, cut parchment to fit into the bottom of the pan, butter the sides and central tube of the pan.

After the 15-minute freezer rest, take the baking sheet out of the freezer and return the dough log to the counter. Using a sharp knife, cut the log to split open the log from one side to the other. Pinch the two top halves together and braid the dough one strand over the other. At the bottom, pinch the two halves together again. Don’t worry if filling spills out or things get messy — it’s all good.

After the dough is braided, pick up the braid and place it on the parchment right in the middle, then pick up the sides of the parchment and lift the dough up and drop it into the pan.

Cover the pan and place it somewhere warm, ideally, 78-80°F (26-27°C), to proof.

6. Proof – 8:30 a.m. 12:00 p.m. (or until ready)

This dough can be slow to rise at this point. Give it the time it needs to rise up to about 1/2″ below the rim of the Pullman pan. For me, at 78°F (26°C), it took about 3.5 hours. See the image below for how high my dough filled my pan.

7. Bake – 12:00 p.m.

Preheat your oven with the rack in the middle to 350°F (176°C) — no fan assist (no convection).



When the oven is preheated and the babka dough is fully proofed, place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (to catch any sugar spilling over). In a small bowl, whisk together one whole egg and 1 Tbsp water and brush a thin layer of the egg wash on the top of the dough. Then, slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 55  minutes until the center of the babka reaches 200°F (93°C) then leave in oven with the oven off for another 5 mins.. Keep an eye on the babka in the last 10 minutes of the bake, if it’s coloring too quickly drop the temperature to compensate.

Yuzu Simple syrup

While the babka is baking, make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan heat over low 52g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar with 59g (1/4 cup) water and about 1 Tbsp Yuzu extract (adjust to taste). Heat until the mixture bubbles a bit and stir occasionally until the sugar fully dissolves in the water. Transfer this simple syrup to a container to cool. If covered, it will keep indefinitely in the fridge (I reuse over and over for babka, other baked goods, or even cocktails).


When the babka is fully baked, remove the pan to a cooling rack. Using a plastic spatula, free the short sides of the babka (the sides without parchment) from the sides and bottom of the pan by pressing the spatula down from top to bottom.


Using a pastry brush, brush on a thin layer of the Yuzu simple syrup. The amount you put on is up to you: the more you add the sweeter the crust will become. Let the babka rest for 10 minutes in the pan. Do not let the babka rest for longer than 10 minutes or it’ll be hard to remove from the pan.

After the 10 minute rest remove the babka from the pan.  Remove the sides of the pan by resting the bottom of the pan on a heat proof object such as a tall can.  Then you should be able to remove the babka from the base and center of the pan with the help of one or two spatulas.  Rest on a wire rack until cool to the touch.


Post bake edits

I will make the following changes for future bakes of this.  Increase the total recipe by 25% to allow a full wreath with even final height.

Increase matcha to 6.125 to 7.5% to bring out more match flavour.

Do a total bake time of 70 mins, perhaps with an extra 5 mins at the end with the oven turned off and door kept closed.


Abe's picture
Abe see how this one turns out, Benny. Perhaps the every first Matcha Babka ever done. 

Benito's picture

Well my first babka wreath is cooling and there are no signs of collapse so fingers crossed I have avoided the issues of the past.  Now for a full wreath I will need to increase the dough by 25-30% or so I think, the next time I’d like the wreath to be nice and full all around.  I think I’ll be making the yuzu simple syrup to keep around just to add to my drinking water though, it is so delicious.  I won’t be slicing this until later today so fingers crossed it will taste good, have adequate fermentation and good texture.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Stunning. Also hope the crumb has a good green colour when you cut into it!

Benito's picture

Me too, I’m hopeful that it will be properly baked unlike my last two babkas.  🤞

yozzause's picture

Hi Benny, look how similar our loaves are  except mine was a fruit dough that i made Mini cinnamon scrolls and the Cinnamon loaf with. Mine too took on a llttle too much colour. Less temp next time.

 scrolls were 42g each but the loaf was made as you did yours but baked on a sheet



 I did mine on Monday morning when the grand daughter was coming to stay.

Benito's picture

Oh that looks great Derek, and you’re right, very similar to my babka.  I haven’t yet made a candied fruit bread yet, it is on my list still.


Benito's picture

OK here are slices.  I think it probably needs another 10 mins in the oven to fully bake as there are a couple of spots that look just a touch under baked.  The yuzu glaze is a total winner, the crust is crisp and tastes amazing with the yuzu on it.  I can taste the matcha but just barely, I’m guessing that I would want to increase it by 25-50% next time to really bring it out.  The black sesame is excellent, but I do love black sesame.  This wasn’t a babka disaster but I do have some ideas for improving it.

DanAyo's picture

Very nice, Benny! The filling is evenly distributed. Sure looks good.

Do you think it is possible to bake the last few minutes with the bread removed from the pan?

Is the bottom of the baking pan removable?

Benito's picture

I’m not sure if I could remove it from the pan to complete the bake without the pan Dan.  Yes it is a two part angel food cake pan.  The outer ring is separate from the bottom and central cone.  I think I’d probably burn myself trying to lift it from the base, as it was removing after 10 mins out of the oven it was still a bit hot.  I’m guessing another 10 mins in the oven next time and maybe also 5 more minutes oven off door closed will do the trick.

Now I just need to get more matcha flavour and I think It’ll be perfect for me.  Have you tasted yuzu before Dan?  

I’ll have to bake this again and see if I can improve upon the recipe.  One thing I really liked about it is that it isn’t actually very sweet.

DanAyo's picture

Have no idea what yuzu is.

Couldn’t  you place a high sided bowl under your pan, the lower the side section down? I wonder if placing the bottom flat portion with the center post back into the oven would help with the thorough baking. I have a concern about over baking and drying out the crumb. 

When you retire from the medical professional, you could open a bakery.  Just Kidding - that would be waaaaay too much like work :-)

In New Orleans, King Cakes are a big thing around Madi Gras. Your Babka could start a new craze with some purple and gold sprinkles and/or sugar.

Benito's picture

Oh Yuzu is a type of lemon with a really distinct flavour, it is native to Japan.  I love the flavour having had it as much as I could while in Japan.  Once back in Toronto, I was able to buy a bottle of yuzu extract from an Asian grocery around the corner from us.  I keep forgetting that I have that bottle in the fridge and when thinking of making a babka and using Asian flavours it dawned on me to make a yuzu simple syrup for the glaze and oh man, that crust is actually my favourite part of this babka.

You are correct, I need to be careful about over baking this babka, but I figure if I were to increase the dough by 25% to make a fully wreath, then it will definitely need a longer bake.  There weren’t any doughy areas this time, but I’d still want to make sure I avoid that next time as well.  I could probably take the outer ring off and finish baking without it, but I am a bit worried about the stability of the babka until it has fully hardened.  I think when I do this again, I’ll leave it in the pan again and see how that goes.  But I appreciate your ideas Dan, always do.