Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Polish Babka

Polish Babka

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:
  • A bundt pan will make a pretty bread, but the finished bread will be small and reach a height of about more than half of your pan.  There's also the option to make it in a loaf pan.

  • Instead of the candied fruit, I opted for dried cherries.

  • The instructions don't indicate how much the dough should expand during the second rising; it expands very little, and I extended the second rising to 45 minutes and preheated the oven to warm up the room and give the yeast some help.

  • Finally, I figured that pouring the rum syrup all at once onto the bread would just lead to spillage over the sides, so I dabbed some on with a pastry brush every few minutes, giving it time to soak into the holes.

  • Polish Babka
    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.


    1. Whoa! SO pretty! I think I've heard of this before but not sure if I had actually taste it. I love dried fruits in the cake and a little bit of rum taste...How delicious!

      1. Thank you, Nami! You've probably had something similar, like brioche, baba au rhum, panettone, or kugelhopf. I can see making this around Christmas too.

    2. That turned out really nice. Never heard of them but I guess will add this in my to do list as well

      1. Thanks! Babka has Polish and Russian roots ... those probably don't have a big influence where you live?

    3. I can't imagine how hard it is to blog about baking when you're trying to eat healthy! I know some bloggers don't eat what they make, but I don't have that kind of willpower. I've heard of babka before, but I don't think I've ever had it. Soaking it in rum syrup sounds good to me! :)

      1. You have to cut back on the baking, that's for sure! I'll have a piece or two and give the rest away, but even those indulgences add up. And I believe in indulgences, but not at the frequency with which I'd like to bake. I also worked out extra today because I did a dining review, and the food is pretty caloric. lol

        But I can't imagine not eating at least some of what you make. What's that saying? Never trust a skinny cook. :) Which I don't believe in, but I might not trust someone who doesn't eat their own food.

    4. Yummy! We have similar cakes and I just loved having it with milk :)

      1. Yes, I figured you would probably be familiar with them! :)


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