Polish Babka

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Yield: 1 loaf, 12 to 16 servings

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This rich bread, laced with rum syrup and drizzled with icing, is often served at Easter in Polish households. Babka is a Polish word for grandmother; the loaf is baked in a Bundt pan so that, when it's served, it looks like a grandmother's wide, fluted skirt. Although it's traditionally shaped that way, babka can be shaped any way you please; just bake it in a loaf pan, if that's what you have.

This recipe was inspired by one in our 1990 200th Anniversary Cookbook, which includes a wealth of recipes and information from cultures around the world. You'll notice that, despite being made with yeast, it's an easy batter bread; "no-knead" isn't as new a concept as you might think!

Polish Babka

star rating (24) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 loaf, 12 to 16 servings
Published: 01/16/2012

Ingredients

Babka

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
  • 1/4 cup candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel; or mixed dried fruit, chopped

Rum syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water*
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum*
  • *Or substitute apple juice for the water and rum.

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk; or a combination of milk and rum or apple juice

Tips from our bakers

  • Don't have a Bundt pan? Bake the bread in an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, instead.

Directions

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1) 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.

2) Add the fruit, beating gently just to combine.

3) Cover the bowl, and let the dough/thick batter rest/rise for 60 minutes; it won't appear to do too much.

4) 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°F.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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.

Reviews

1 23  All  
  • star rating 04/07/2015
  • from
  • star rating 04/06/2015
  • Boilerbaker1 from KAF Community
  • I enjoyed making this babka for the first time this Easter. I made it in memory of my "Babi", which is "grandma" in Czech, and this babka is much easier than making a Czech houska! We loved the babka made with golden raisins and some candied citron and orange peel ordered from King Arthur. Delicious and so easy to make!
  • star rating 04/05/2015
  • 1321lolo from KAF Community
  • I never had Babka before so I didn't know what to expect. It's a little more dry texture than I would like, but maybe that was an error on my part.
  • star rating 03/29/2015
  • Debbie from Potomac, Montana
  • My first experience with Babka.....was easy to make...I did take into consideration the comments, so I made a sponge and let it rise twice for an hour. Still it is a smaller cake, does not fill the binds pan, but I don't think its intended to. The flavor is delicate, the crumb moist....will make for Easter and an upcoming dinner party! Thank you for a great recipe!
  • star rating 08/13/2014
  • Kit from Silver Spring, MD
  • Blue ribbon at the Montgomery County (MD) Fair for ethnic yeast bread.
  • star rating 04/19/2014
  • bluescrew from KAF Community
  • Made this today. The babka wasn't difficult and it actually does rise. I began with a sponge - 1/2 cup flour, 2 teaspoons RAPID RISE/INSTANT (very, very important!) yeast and 1/2 cup warmed milk. After 30 mins., I added all of the rest of the ingredients, along with the remaining 1-1/2 cups flour, and proceeded with the recipe as written. This is a small cake and you should know this going in. I used white rum and not juice for the syrup and the icing. What I didn't like about the babka was it is virtually tasteless but, then again, I used golden raisins and dried cranberries. I believe the taste would have been vastly different had I used candied orange and/or lemon peel, as it would have given the babka the "oomph" it needed.
    Thank you for the feedback! A sponge is very useful in several ways. It can provide a head start and boost to the rise and develop a depth of flavor. Good idea to use one in this case. I am surprised Rapid Rise worked for you. We never recommend using this type of yeast other than for pizza dough. But, if it worked, great! Elisabeth@KAF
  • star rating 04/06/2014
  • Kathie from Roswell, GA
  • I made this yesterday. It is easy and delicious. I improvised a bit, I am not a fan of raisins or the fruit, so I put half the batter in my bundt pan and added a mixture of nuts, cinnamon and sugar, then put the remaining batter on top. It may not have been a true Polish Babka but my grandkids loved it (so did my husband). I will be making this again. Thanks for the recipe.
  • star rating 04/06/2013
  • Mike from New Port Richey, FL
  • The BEST Babka I ever had! And I'm Polish! OK that's not very pertinent, but it really is the best!
  • star rating 03/28/2013
  • Donna from ohio
  • Made this Babka today. Love the mix between bread and cake. My husband can't stop eating it. I will make another Sat. for Easter morning breakfast.. Love the fact that it is no knead and doesn't "mess up" the whole kitchen to make. Thanks for great recipe. Ethnic recipes are so good.
  • star rating 08/21/2012
  • tngranny1 from KAF Community
  • I made this yesterday. It was very easy and the taste is wonderful. The taste and texture is in between cake and bread . What I did so the bread would be easy to remove from the pan after I poured the sauce on, was to remove it first and put it right back into the pan than poured the rum sauce on. There was no issue getting it out of the pan. I hope that helps .
1 23  All  
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