Polish Babka

April 10, 2020

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

IMG_9760Folks 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.IMG_8091

 

And prior to that was Italian Easter Bread:

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Then there was this Tsoureki from Greece:

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Don’t forget that Slovak Paska:

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And the impressive Russian Kulich:

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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.

IMG_9792A 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.IMG_9798

 

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.

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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.

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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.

IMG_9802Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

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Polish Babka

  • Servings: 1 cake with 12 -16 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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.)

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Enjoy!

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

SAF Instant Yeast

Baker’s Fruit Blend

Nordic Ware Bundt Pan


Italian Easter Bread

April 3, 2018

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Happy Easter! Yes, I do realize that Easter was back on Sunday, but I really wanted to share this recipe for this beautiful Italian Easter Bread with you, even though I’m doing so a bit late. Truth be told, I had every intention to have this posted on Saturday morning, before Easter, but then life got in the way and it just didn’t happen. But hey, as it turns out, folks celebrate Easter every single year, so with this recipe already in hand you’ll be way ahead of the game for Easter 2019.

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This light and airy Italian Easter bread is similar to brioche. Rich and only slightly sweet, it looks amazing on your Easter brunch table. If you have a real sweet tooth, you can amp up the sugar factor by adding a sweet glaze once it comes out of the oven.  These lovely loaves are also a great way to display your brightly colored Easter Eggs.

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I love trying out Easter breads from around the world. Last year I baked Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) . Tsoureki also has an egg or eggs baked into it.

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I’ve also made Slovak Paska

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And even tried my hand with the impressive Russian Kulich (Easter bread)

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And of course every year I bake Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday.

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But let me get back to talking about this year’s offering – Italian Easter Bread. It was really very easy to make, rose like a champ and looked so festive on the brunch table. My only disappointment was the egg. The recipe said that you should use RAW eggs that have been dyed, not hard-boiled ones. The claim was that the eggs would cook perfectly as the bread baked. I was skeptical. I thought a baked egg would have a weird rubbery texture, but I was hopeful, so I did use raw eggs. Although it looks like Sprinkle Bakes (the blog on which I found this recipe) eggs came out great, mine did not. They were just not done, very runny. And I could not have left the bread in the oven for any longer than I did as it was perfectly golden. Turns out it wasn’t a disaster, we just ate around the offending egg. In the future I think I will just use a raw egg which has not been dyed, as a place holder in the oven. Once the bread is done baking, I will carefully remove that egg and swap it out for a perfectly hardboiled dyed egg. Another advantage of doing it that was is that you won’t have to worry about any of the eggs coloring bleeding onto the loaves. And don’t forget to rub your finished eggs with a little bit of oil to really make them shine!

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So, once again I hope you will forgive my tardiness with this Easter post. Please keep this Italian Easter Bread at the ready for next year. Happy be-lated Easter!

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Italian Easter Bread

  • Servings: 6 braided loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Sprinkle Bakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (301 ml.) milk or half and half
  • 1/3 cup (76 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 3 to 4 cups (408 to 544 grams) bread flour (approximate)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Rainbow nonpareils
  • 6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors *please see my above note on use of raw eggs

Directions:

Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Warm just until the butter is completely melted and remove from the heat. Let cool until just warm.
Combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Knead with the dough hook until combined. Add more flour gradually until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. You may not have to use all of the flour (but I did!). Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or until completely smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over once to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough with a fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch thick rope about 14 inches in length. Take two lengths and twist them together; loop the twist into a circle and pinch the ends together. Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small condiment cup. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle on the nonpareils and gently place a dyed egg in the middle of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant. Let cool on wire racks..

Notes:

  • For a simple milk glaze, mix 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk together until smooth. A little vanilla extract couldn’t hurt, either.
  • After the dough is raised and turned out onto a work surface, 1/2 cup mixed candied fruit and 1/4 cup blanched almonds can be mixed in.  2 tablespoons of citrus zest may be added to the dough also.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats www.leaandjay.com

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Bread:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hand Held Zester

Oxo Good Grips small silicone pastry brush

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

 


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