Tuesday, 26 March 2013
Babka | Traditional Polish Easter Cake
Easter is all about tradition for me. Amongst all treats that seem to signify Easter my best memories are of the making and eating of Babka. This is a traditional Polish Yeast Cake and was an essential part of our festivities.
My mum learnt to bake it from an authentic Polish cook book, adapting the huge quantities to a manageable size. We all helped with the kneading.
This week I baked my version of her version with the aid of a cookbook (The Polish Kitchen by Mary Pinińska). It has only been in recent years that I have attempted this treat. The need for a cookbook is because Mum’s instructions are a bit vague.
Here’s how this year’s test run went.
1.1 kg (2lb 8oz) plain flour
450ml (3/4 pint) lukewarm milk
85g (3oz) dried yeast (which is what I used). Or
175g (6oz) fresh yeast
2tsp essence. I used vanilla extract but traditionally lemon essence is used.
4 large eggs
4 large egg whites
260g (9oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
175g (6oz) unsalted butter melted
Butter for greasing.
Sift 300g (10.5oz) flour into a large bowl and add milk.
Mix in the yeast and cover. Leave in a warm place for an hour for the dough to rise.
Beat together the eggs and egg yolks and stir in your essence.
Mix thoroughly into yeast mixture. It will look a bit lumpy.
Add remaining flour, sifting it in. Use a wooden spoon until it is all combined.
Knead for 30 minutes. In the beginning it may look like you have too much liquid but be patient (oh I had help with this bit)
Add melted butter and knead thoroughly until all the butter has been incorporated, this will take about 5minutes (really!) The dough will look shiny but will not be sticky.
Place into well buttered tins. I used a large bunt tin and a 23cm (9inch) spring form tin. Roughly half filling each tin.
Top the cakes with your favourite crumble or leave plain to glaze after baking. I used Hugh’s recipe using 250g butter and no oatmeal
Leave in a warm place for about 30min (until dough has risen to top of container).
Meanwhile heat the oven to 180oC (390oF).
Add some more crumble before putting the cake in the oven.
Bake each cake for about 1 hour. The skewer should come out clean.
The cake that is not in the oven should be removed from its warm place so that it does not rise too much. (Unless you can fit them both in the oven at the same time.)
I guess it was a success.