Babka has been on my to-bake list for years. Even after I grew comfortable with baking yeasted breads, babka seemed like a big project. I've bookmarked a few recipes, but this one looked so easy I jumped on it almost right away. King Arthur Flour writes that the bundt shape is supposed to be reminiscent of a grandmother's skirt. The dough comes together easily in a stand mixer, and the two risings are brief. What you get is a rich bread that is a bit like cake, in the style of brioche, but denser. I adore the rum syrup, which turns the babka into something like baba au rhum. I could do without the white icing on top, which I found cloying and unnecessary, and just double down on that rum syrup.
Other babka recipes will call for shaping, and filling with chocolate or cinnamon (or both), and I fully intend to tackle one. By Easter, I hope. But I'm mostly about the easy and quick recipes these days. In fact, some (very few?) of you may have noticed I've been posting way less. I'm stepping back my blogging because life is just getting too hectic. Also, I've recently adopted a healthier lifestyle that doesn't fit with baking cake and pie every week. And I feel great! But I've gotta say, sometimes I get an itch not necessarily to eat, but to bake something like pie. I'm working on another dining review for the paper this week, but maybe I'll get around to baking that chocolate babka! Fingers crossed.
Some things worth mentioning:
By King Arthur Flour
For volume and gram measurements, visit the original site
For the babka
4 ounces lukewarm milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 ounces granulated sugar
2 ounces softened butter
8 1/2 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 ounces currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
1 1/2 ounces candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel; or mixed dried fruit, chopped
For the rum syrup
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
2 ounces water*
1/2 to 1 ounce rum*
*Or substitute apple juice for the water and rum.
For the icing
4 ounces confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1 ounce milk; or a combination of milk and rum or apple juice
Place everything except the fruit in a mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed until cohesive. Increase your mixer's speed to high, and beat for 2 minutes.
Add the 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. Cover the pan, and let the dough rest/rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°.
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.
To make the icing: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over completely cool babka.
Yield: 1 loaf, 12 to 16 servings.