Easy Polish Easter Babka (Babka Wielkanocna)

Polish Easter Babka
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  • 75 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 10-inch cake (12 servings)
Ratings (57)

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.

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.

Here are more Eastern European babka recipes and Easter bread recipes from Eastern Europe.

What You'll Need

  • 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

How to Make It

Make the Cake

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  1. Add the flour, lemon zest (if using), and raisins and mix thoroughly. The dough will be of a thick cake batter consistency.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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

 

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 286
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 8 g
Unsaturated Fat 5 g
Cholesterol 108 mg
Sodium 159 mg
Carbohydrates 35 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 5 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)