Happy Good Friday everyone! Wait…can you say that? You hear a lot of “Happy Easter” but not really “Happy Good Friday”. Hmmm…well I’ll ask you to indulge me today because I am very happy today! My Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns that I make every year ( you have to bake them on Good Friday or they don’t have all of the special powers) are well under way!
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make them this year what with all of the quarantining shortages in the stores, but luckily I was able to score some flour and sugar. Hoooray! And not only am I making the traditional Hot Cross Buns today, but I am also going to share a great Easter bread recipe with you: Polish Babka!
When you hear “Babka” you might think of the Jewish version of the bread, which is often a twisted bread filled with chocolate or cinnamon and topped with a streusel. That is definitely tasty, but not the treat I’m talking about today. Today we look to Poland.
Polish Babka is a rich, buttery bread which is shot through with rum soaked fruit, brushed with a rum syrup and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Traditionally served on Easter in Poland, there are many different versions of this recipe, with each family claiming the bread made by their “Babka” which means grandmother in Polish, is the best!
Folks in many countries around the world have a special bread that they bake for the Easter holidays. I have shared quite a few of these recipes with you over the years. Last year was Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.
And prior to that was Italian Easter Bread:
Then there was this Tsoureki from Greece:
Don’t forget that Slovak Paska:
And the impressive Russian Kulich:
That’s a lot of Easter breads huh?!! But let me get back to talking about this Polish Babka. This Babka is a cross between a bread and a cake in a way. You do start with a sponge, which boosts the rise that you get from the yeast, but you don’t have to knead it all, so it is a bit like a batter bread.
A loaf of Babka is often included in the swiecone basket that Polish families take to church with them on Easter Saturday to be blessed. The basket contains food such as meat, eggs, cake and breads, which will be eaten at the Easter meal after Mass. Each of the food items in the basket are symbolic. For example eggs represent new life and the yeast bread represents the risen Lord.
If you hadn’t guessed, I love bread. I love baking it and I love eating it. Guess that’s why I could not stick with the South Beach diet! This bread was pretty easy to make and will be a fantastic Easter treat.
Now you can make a rum icing to drizzle over the Babka if you wish. I have included it in the recipe. Since the Husband really isn’t a fan of super sweet desserts, I chose to just dust our Babka lightly with confectioner’s sugar. But you should do whatever you prefer.
With its tender crumb and rich rum soaked fruit I’m also looking forward to the French Toast I will be making soon as well.
Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!
recipe from: King Arthur Flour (I have incorporated a lot of the advice from the reviews of this recipe from bakers on the KAF site.)
For the Starter Sponge:
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) All-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 113 grams (1/2 cup) lukewarm (95°F) milk
For the Babka:
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 57 grams (4 tablespoons, 1/4 cup) softened butter
- 181 grams All-Purpose Flour (if you do not wish to do the sponge – it is 241 grams (2 cups flour)
- 43 grams (1/4 cup ) currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
- 43 grams (1/4 cup) candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel, or mixed dried fruit, chopped
For the Rum Syrup:
- 99 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 57 grams (1/4 cup) water*
- 14 grams to 28 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) rum*
*If you prefer not to use Rum you could substitute apple juice for the water and rum mixture.
For the Icing (Optional – you can just go with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar):
- 113 grams (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
- pinch of salt
- 28 grams (2 tablespoons) milk, or a combination of milk and rum or apple juice
Begin by making a starter sponge: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 60 grams of the flour and two teaspoons instant yeast with 113 grams of the lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rise for 1 hour.
Place the raisins and candied mixed fruit in a small bowl and cover with rum. Allow to soak while the sponge is rising.
After on hour, add the rest of the remaining ingredients, except the fruit, to the mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until cohesive. Increase your mixer’s speed to high, and beat for 2 minutes.
Add the rum soaked fruit, beating gently just to combine.
Cover the bowl, and let the dough/thick batter rest/rise for 60 minutes; it won’t appear to do too much.
Scoop the batter into a greased 10-cup Bundt Pan. (If you don’t have a Bundt pan you can also bake the bread in an 8 1/2″ X 4 1/2″ loaf pan). Cover the pan, and let the dough rest/rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
Bake the babka for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 190°F.
While the babka is baking, prepare the rum syrup. Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil, swirling the liquid in the pan, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Remove the babka from the oven. Poke it all over gently with a toothpick or fork, and slowly pour the syrup over the babka’s surface.
When the syrup is fully absorbed (about 20 minutes or so), carefully loosen the Babka’s edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.
If you choose to use the icing: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over completely cool Babka.
Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Polish Babka:
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale
Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer
Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks