Traditional Polish Sweet Bread (Babka)
This dessert, a cross between cake and sweet bread, is often baked for Easter.
- 3 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter or margarine
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- About 7 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
Confectioners' Sugar Icing
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Cakes: Grease side and bottom of 2 (10-inch) tube pans. Prepare Topping; set aside.
- In a shallow, medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1 tablespoon
sugar and 1/2 cup flour; stir to combine. Cover; let stand in a warm place 5
to 10 minutes until foamy.
- Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan until melted. Let stand until mixture
cools to warm.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs, egg yolks and remaining 1 cup sugar until pale
- Add cooled milk mixture, salt and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth.
Gradually beat in 4 1/2 cups flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a
soft dough. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead dough into a
soft, smooth dough. Divide dough in 1/2. Arrange 1 part dough in each greased
- Cover with a damp cloth; let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until
doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly beat 2 egg whites in a small bowl until foamy. Brush beaten egg
whites on top of dough. Evenly sprinkle Topping over dough.
- Bake for 50 to 55 minutes
or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans 3 to 4 minutes on racks.
- Turn out of pans; cool completely on racks. Frost with confectioners'
sugar icing, if desired.
- Topping: In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry
blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles crumbs.
- Confectioners' Sugar Icing: In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until frothy.
- Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating constantly. Beat 10 minutes
or until glossy.
- Add lemon juice; beat for 2 minutes or until icing stands up in soft peaks.
Yield: 2 (10-inch) cakes; 1 1/4 cups icing
Variation: Add food coloring or flavorings, such as 1 teaspoon sifted unsweetened
cocoa powder or vanilla extract. Use a little more sugar if liquids are added.