Wesołego Alleluja, errbody! Easter is upon us, and that means TREATS. Now, you may not be able to tell (mainly because my enormous dome is never in pictures on the blog) but I am rather Polish. To the point where hats don’t fit, and my brother suffers the same fate. The Polish-American struggle is very, very real. Now, Easter traditions in my family are…slightly different from what most people would consider traditional. Easter for me always means at least 3 things – kielbasa and sauerkraut, and a viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar. Occasionally if we were lucky we also got babka. It’s a traditional Polish bread eaten at Easter and Christmas, usually.
Now, there are two kinds of babka – the Jewish version, which is more or less a braided coffee cake (and also delicious), and the Polish version, which is a sweet bread with golden raisins and (if you’re #blessed) brown sugar on top. My paternal grandma always made it with brown sugar, and the goal was to get the slice with the most brown sugar on it because duh, sugar for breakfast.
And now it’s my turn! Fiancébot and I will be getting married in ohhhh 3 WEEKS, CASUAL and he’s already had to sit through several viewings of JCSS – luckily, he enjoys a good musical and can really get down with Ted Neeley’s falsetto. I’ve never made babka before, but I figured now is as good a time as any to start making it so eventually I will be able to make it from memory and be one of those mystical baking people that knows bread recipes by heart. So, basically a grandma.
- 6-7 cups AP flour (enough for a soft dough, you may need to add more)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (between 104 and 115°F)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 lb (4 oz.) butter
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- In a small saucepan, heat milk until warm. Add the butter and heat until butter has melted completely
- Pour the butter and milk mixture into a large bowl (such as the bowl to a stand mixer) and stir in the salt and sugar. Let it cool until it is lukewarm.
- Stir the yeast into the warm water until it is dissolved and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Add the yeast and water to the milk mixture
- Stir in the eggs and vanilla, then gradually start adding flour until you are able to start kneading. If you knead by hand, it will take 30-45 minutes, but if you knead with a stand mixer it will take 15-20 minutes. Once the dough no longer sticks to your hands, add the raisins and give it one final knead.
- Cover the bowl with a clean, dry towel and let the dough rise in a warm area without any drafts (like, I don’t know…a kitchen?) for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and let it rise again, covered, for another hour.
- Separate the dough into halves, and place it into a.) 2 greased and floured 9×5 inch loaf pans b.) one round bundt pan without a tube or c.) mini loaf pans. I did a combination of a and c because hey, kitchen toys!
- Whisk together 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water and brush it over the tops of the bread. Let the bread rise again, this time uncovered, until doubled, about 30-40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. If you are using the brown sugar topping, at this point mix together the 3 ingredients and sprinkle it over the top of your risen loaves
- Let the loaves cook for 20-25 minutes for mini loaves, 30-35 for loaf pans or 40-50 for a large pan until the bread is golden and it sounds hollow if tapped on the bottom.
- Let the bread sit for 5 minutes in the pans, and remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve once cooled completely – I like it toasted slightly with a little bit of butter.
There you have it, folks! A LOT of time spent in the kitchen, but for an excellent payoff. Babka is sweet, but can be used for so many different things including, methinks, French toast. In a word? Niesamowite.