Babka Wielkanocna: Easy Polish Easter Babka

Babka Wielkanocna: Easy Polish Easter Babka

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
1 rise: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
403 Calories
13g Fat
64g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 403
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 78mg 26%
Sodium 210mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 64g 23%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 50mg 4%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 205mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Babka is a sweet Polish yeast bread, similar to Italian panettone, that can be made with rum-soaked raisins and iced, or left plain.

It's an Easter favorite that often takes pride of place in a swięcone basket that is taken to church to be blessed on Easter Saturday. In fact, every Eastern European country has its own traditional Easter bread.

Traditional babka is made with a staggering number of egg yolks and requires two or more yeast risings. This recipe is lighter on the cholesterol load, requires no kneading, and only takes one rise.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 1/4 cup warm water, no hotter than 110 F

  • 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) salted butter, chilled

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup milk, scalded

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, optional

  • 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, light or dark

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, optional

For the Optional Icing:

  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon boiling water

Steps to Make It

Make the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Babka Wielkanocna: Easy Polish Easter Babka ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water and set aside. If the mixture doesn't look bubbly after 15 minutes, it could mean your yeast is old. Start again with fresh yeast before proceeding to the next step.

    yeast and warm milk in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Place butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer, and pour the scalded milk over it. Using the paddle attachment, mix until the butter has melted and the milk has cooled to 110 F or below. Mix in the vanilla and eggs. Add yeast and mix until well combined.

    butter, sugar, salt, milk, vanilla and eggs in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the flour, lemon zest (if using), and raisins and mix thoroughly. The dough will be of a thick cake batter consistency.

    batter in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 10-inch babka pan, kugelhopf pan, Turk's head pan (turban pan), Bundt pan, or tube pan with cooking spray.

    greased babka pan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover lightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk or until dough reaches the top of the pan but no higher.

    dough in a babka pan, covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Bake about 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 F.

    baked babka in a babka pan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Cool completely on a wire rack and dust with confectioners' sugar before serving or, immediately after cooling, with the optional icing. 

    babka on a cooling rack

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Make the Optional Icing

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    icing ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and boiling water until smooth.

    icing in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Drizzle over cooled cake.

    Babka Wielkanocna: Easy Polish Easter Babka, icing poured on top

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • Store cooled babka in an airtight cake saver at room temperature for up to one week.
  • Alternatively, the babka can be frozen by wrapping it in plastic wrap and placing it in a plastic freezer bag for up to six months.

How Babka Got Its Name

Babka, which literally means "grandmother" in Polish, probably got the name because its shape is reminiscent of an old woman's wide, swirling skirts. Yet others say it is named after the top knot or bun often worn by elderly ladies in Polish villages years ago.

Interestingly enough, babkas in the Jewish tradition are baked in loaf pans, so it appears the name's origin and the pan it is made in are up for debate.