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Easter Babka

Photo | Michael Vyskocil

On Easter morning, children in Polish households often wake up to the aroma of their mother’s homemade babka, a Polish sweet bread. Babka, which means “grandmother” in Polish, is a yeast-risen bread flavored with citrus zest, currants, raisins and almonds. My babka recipe calls for baking the babka in a kugelhopf (ring mold) pan, but an angel-food cake pan could also be used. Serve this yeasted bread as you would coffee cake, at breakfast or with afternoon tea.

Babka

Makes one 9-inch babka

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for mold
1¼ cups milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
12 large egg yolks
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
Grated zest of 2 oranges
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ cups currants
1½ cups dark raisins
1½ cups golden raisins
1 cup chopped slivered almonds

  1. Butter one 9-inch kugelhopf mold; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat milk to 100 to 110 degrees. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir yeast into warm milk; set aside for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour yeast mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in 2 cups flour; cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 8 tablespoons butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 6 egg yolks, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Mix in ½ cup all-purpose flour and 2 egg yolks; scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add another ½ cup flour and 2 egg yolks; mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add 1 cup flour and 2 egg yolks and beat to combine. Add vanilla extract, orange juice, orange and lemon zests, and yeast mixture; mix on low to combine. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Continue beating the dough on medium speed until smooth, elastic and quite soft, about 2 minutes. Up to 1 cup flour may be added if the dough is still sticky. Add currants, dark raisins, golden raisins and almonds; mix to combine.
  4. Transfer dough to prepared kugelhopf mold. Cover mold with a piece of plastic wrap and allow dough to rise, about 60 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center of the oven, 15 minutes before the end of the dough rising time. Transfer mold to oven. Bake for 38 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester, when inserted into the middle of the babka, comes out clean. The internal temperature of the babka should be about 180 degrees and the babka should pull away slightly from the sides of the mold.
  6. Let babka cool in the mold for 5 minutes. Turn babka out onto a cooling rack and continue to cool before slicing and serving.

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