I am ready – ready for arrival of a little on in 3 weeks or less – the countdown has begun. Nursery done, all the basic needs for a newborn are stored away, freezer packed – and just packed my bags this past weekend. You would think I can just sit back and relax now – yeah right – I am in full force nesting – cleaning, doing laundry etc. etc. you name it, and I am still working too – hopefully not too much longer.
Here is one of my all time favorite recipes that I have been wanting to share with you for a while just never gotten to it – the Babka.
This is one of my true favorite sweet breads to make,. There are no many versions of this and I usually make these for gifts for the Christmas holidays. The Babka is the European cousin of coffee cake, the rich yeast bread derives its name from bacia, a Slavic term of endearment for grandma, which the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food points out may have been because the fluted tube pans in which babkas were originally baked gave the cakes the appearance of an old woman’s pleated skirt.
Today’s babkas come in all different shares, colors and flavors – sometimes round, sometimes loaf-shaped; some have a streusel topping, others are frosted. I enjoy both the cinnamon and fruit-based but if you are like Seinfeld’s Elaine, the chocolate babka is king.
A few years back I was looking for a recipes and could not find one recipe that I liked so I combined a few of them on the internet and did some trial and errors and this is what I ended up with. It is a little time-consuming but the bread is delicious. I usually make it in bread format or bunt cake format.
I do this recipe with chocolate and without – it is really a personal preference they are both delicious.
Adapted from: LA Times
Yields: 2 loaves | Prep Time: 110 minutes | Bake Time: 60 minutes
1 ½ cup butter, softened
3 cup all-purpose flour
3 ½ cup bread flour
2 packets active dry yeast (4 tsp)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
½ cup warm water
½ cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extracts
¼ tsp drops lemon extract
¼ tsp drops orange extract
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ cup butter, softened and cut into bits
1 to 1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 to 3 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cup walnuts , coarsely chopped
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
Rub butter into flour until crumbly using dough hook of electric mixer, and set aside.
Combine yeast and warm water (lukewarm) and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add sugar, salt, milk, sour cream, eggs, yolk, lemon juice, vanilla, citrus extracts, and almond extract. And mix all together.
Then stir in the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Mix to form a soft dough. Knead 5-6 minutes, then place in a greased glass bowl and cover. Let it rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Note: depending on your yeast it can take longer, it has taken me up to 90 minutes to double in size.
Punch down dough. Divide into 2 portions. Roll each portion out onto a floured work surface into 14×10 inch rectangles.
Sprinkle each rectangle equally with soft butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts, and raisins. (Add chocolate chips here if you want). Roll long end up into a jelly roll.
Carefully place each into well-greased bread pan.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Turn oven to 350F.
Mix the egg and brush dough egg and sprinkle with some brown sugar.
Place cake pans on a large baking sheet (this protects bottom) and bake at 350 degrees until done, about 1 hour. Or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool for 20 minutes before you remove from pan.
This is what my counter looks like when I am making those holiday gifts -
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