Prep 20 mins
Cook 55 mins
A successful babka--rich, tender, fine textured, spongy, and very light--is a great triumph of a Ukrainian homemaker.
- Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water, sprinkle the yeast over it, and let stand until softened.
- FOR THE SPONGE: Combine dissolved yeast with the lukewarm milk and 1 cup of flour.
- Beat well, cover, and allow the sponge to rise in a warm place until light and bubbly.
- Beat the eggs with the salt, add the sugar gradually, and continue beating.
- Beat in the butter and lemon rind.
- Combine this mixture with the sponge.
- Stir in the flour and KNEAD IN THE BOWL for about 10 minutes.
- This dough should be slightly thicker than for the usual babka mixture.
- Knead in the raisins.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
- Punch down, knead a few times, and let it rise again.
- Butter tall, round baking pans (or coffee cans) with soft butter sprinkling them lightly with fine bread crumbs and fill them ONE-THIRD FULL.
- I like to use greased parchment paper on the bottom and sides of pan.
- For this recipe you will need about 2 or 3 large coffee cans.
- If you are going to use smaller cans, you will need more of them and use your judgment to how many you will need.
- Adjust baking time for the smaller cans.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough reaches the brim of the pan.
- Brush the loaves with a beaten egg diluted with 2 Tablespoons of milk or water.
- Bake in a moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) for about 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F.
- ,and continue baking for 40 minutes longer, or until done.
- Avoid browning the top too deeply.
- If necessary, cover with aluminum foil.
- Remove the baked loaves from the oven and let them stand in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Tip each loaf very gently from the pan onto a cloth-covered pillow.
- Do not cool the loaves on a hard surface.
- This is extremely important.
- Careless handling of the baked babka may cause it to fall or settle.
- As the loaves are cooling, change their position very gently a few times to prevent settling.
- If desired, the cooled loaves may be iced or glazed and decorated with bakers' confetti.
- This is the custom in the old country.
- Babka is always sliced in rounds across the loaf.
- The sliced bottom crust serves as a protective cover, and it is put back to prevent the loaf from drying.
- BABKA WITH PUMPKIN: This is a very old recipe, but it is worth preserving.
- Mashed pumpkin imparts a mellow, yellow color to babka and keeps it fresh and soft for days.
- A fewer number of eggs is required when pumpkin is used.
- Follow the preceding recipe for Country Babka.
- Add 1/2 to 2/3 cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/2 cup of orange juice and about 4 eggs.
- Add enough flour to give a soft dough.
Excellent, traditional babka! This would make two large bundt pans' worth or three loaf pans, loaf pans happened to be what I had on hand. I did add about another 1/4 cup flour after the second rising because it seemed too sticky, could probably have even added a full 1/2 cup, but this is absolutely delicious. Used the rind of 1 orange AND 1 lemon, and added 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (that's what my grandmother always did). Don't be scared of all the rising, if you follow the recipe exactly it comes out perfect. :)
I am reposting this review of Sept 12, 2004 to correct the size of the pan I used. It was an 8-inch, not 9-inch pan. I really enjoyed making this, and now we're enjoying eating it. It was my first experience with such a traditional recipe, and was quite interesting. I did cut the recipe in half, and baked it in a 8-inch tube pan. It rose high and light and lemony. I left it on the tube pan base until it was fairly cool then removed it to a cooling rack. It didn't fall. Phew!! Thank you for this recipe.