|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
Babka is a sweet Polish yeast bread, similar to Italian panettone, that can be made with rum-soaked raisins and iced, or left plain.
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.
- For the Cake:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (0.25-ounce package)
- 1/4 cup warm water (no hotter than 110 F)
- 6 ounces salted butter (cold)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup scalded milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 large eggs (room-temperature, beaten)
- 4 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose)
- Optional: 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1/2 to 1 cup raisins (light or dark)
- Optional: confectioners' sugar
- For the Optional Icing:
- 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
Make the Cake
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.
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.
Add the flour, lemon zest (if using), and raisins and mix thoroughly. The dough will be of a thick cake batter consistency.
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.
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.
Cool completely on a wire rack and dust with confectioners' sugar before serving or, immediately after cooling, with the optional icing.
Make the Optional Icing
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and boiling water until smooth.
Drizzle over cooled cake.
How to Store Babka
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.