This magnificent babka is a traditional Polish Easter bread that I made for my best friend’s annual Easter celebration. Standing six inches tall, it is a slightly sweet yeast cake dotted with rum-soaked golden raisins and topped with a sweet lime glaze. Rich in flavor thanks to 10 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs and melted butter, this babka is a fine way to break the Lenten fast!
Babka is the Northern Slavic word for “little grandmother”. The bread is baked in a special pan that shapes the babka to emulate a full skirt covering the ample hips of a typical Eastern European grandmother. The pan has ridges and curves suggesting the pleats and flowers of the fabric. Unfortunately I don’t own a babka pan, so my large angel food cake pan became an acceptable stand-in.
Thanks, Dorota for allowing me to make your babka this year! Your Easter feasts are well-known and always a joy.
Babka (adapted from Valinda’s recipe on Allrecipes)
1/3 cup rum, optional – if you want to soak the raisins*
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
10 egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled but still warm
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lime zest
6 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus about 1 cup more for kneading
*If you want the raisins to be plump and delicious, soak them in the rum the night before or at least 2 hours before you start the recipe.
Warm the milk, water and sugar until it reaches 110F (45C). Add yeast and set aside for about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside. Drain raisins and enjoy the rum while you bake!
Stir 2 eggs, egg yolks, butter, vanilla and lemon rind in a large bowl of a mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix in yeast mixture and raisins and beat well. When a loose dough has formed, turn out onto a well-floured floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, using the extra 1 cup of flour if necessary. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and turn to coat on all sides with the oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Deflate the dough by punching it down and folding it over onto itself about 4 times. Let rise again until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
Grease a babka pan or a large angel food cake pan. Deflate the dough again and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a fat cylinder. Place it into the babka or cake pan and fold over the ends. Smooth the top with your hands until the dough is evenly dispersed. Cover the pan with a damp cloth and let the dough rise until tripled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F (190C).
Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F (165C) and bake for 30 minutes more. Reduce oven temperature to 275F (135C) and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let babka stand 5 to 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling on a rack.
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix above ingredients together. Add more milk or sugar to achieve a pouring consistency. Pour over the warm babka.
Peace and joy as we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection today!