Northeast Times

A tasty Polish tradition

’Tis the East­er sea­son: Bab­ka is a spe­cial Pol­ish East­er bread.

Bab­ka is a Pol­ish East­er bread, slightly sweet, and made with yeast and rais­ins. It may have sweet cheese in­cor­por­ated in­to the dough. This is a spe­cial East­er bread, not to be con­fused with the word Bab­cia, (pro­nounced bop-cha), which is the Pol­ish word for grand­moth­er.

North­east Times read­er Judy F. had emailed me to ask, “Would you, by any chance, have a very simple bread re­cipe with easy in­struc­tions on how to dis­solve yeast? I’ve nev­er made bread, but would like to try.”  

When I make a yeast bread, I use Fleischmann’s yeast. I al­ways check the date on the pack­age, and re­fri­ger­ate any un­used yeast. Yeast is a liv­ing mi­croor­gan­ism that be­comes act­ive in li­quid heated to the right tem­per­at­ure. De­pend­ing on the re­cipe, yeast is eas­ily dis­solved in warm wa­ter or warm milk. Yeast will work best in li­quid between 85 de­grees F and 115 de­grees F. If the li­quid is too cold, it will not work prop­erly. It should be tep­id or com­fort­ably warm. On the oth­er hand, if the li­quid is too hot, it will kill the yeast. It will kill your bread, too. It will not rise.

If us­ing wa­ter, let your hot wa­ter run for a minute and then meas­ure the amount you need. My test for wa­ter or milk is re­min­is­cent of test­ing the tem­per­at­ure of the milk for baby’s bottle. Put a drop on the wrist, and it should feel com­fort­ably warm. 

If a re­cipe (like the one be­low) calls for scald­ing the milk, then you’ll need to heat the milk un­til very small bubbles be­gin to form around the edge of the pan. When this oc­curs, re­move the pan from the heat and al­low the milk to cool a little be­fore us­ing it.  

Some bab­ka re­cipes re­quire knead­ing, double risings and many hours of time spent in the kit­chen. The fol­low­ing re­cipe pro­duces an easy, de­li­cious, no-knead bab­ka.

BAB­KA WITH ICING

1 cup rais­in

1 Tb­sp. rum   

1 pack­age dry yeast plus 1/8 tsp. sug­ar

¼ cup warm wa­ter

1 cup scal­ded milk

¾ cup but­ter (1½ sticks)

¾ cup sug­ar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

3 large eggs (beaten)

4¼ cups flour

Zest of 1 lem­on

Icing

1 cup con­fec­tion­ers’ sug­ar

3 Tb­sp. wa­ter

½ tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup sliced al­monds

Grease a 10-inch tube pan with Crisco.

Com­bine rais­ins and rum in a small dish. Set aside while mix­ing the dough.

Sprinkle yeast and 1/8 tsp. sug­ar in­to warm wa­ter in a 1 cup meas­ure. Stir to dis­solve. Let stand un­til bub­bly – 5 to 10 minutes.

Put but­ter, sug­ar and salt in­to large bowl and pour the scal­ded milk over all. Mix un­til but­ter is melted and milk has cooled slightly.

(If us­ing a food pro­cessor, put in­gredi­ents in­to bowl, and pulse and pro­cess to mix. Scrape sides with spat­ula.)

Mix in vanilla and eggs.

(If us­ing a food pro­cessor, pulse to mix. Scrape sides with spat­ula.)

Add yeast and mix un­til well com­bined.

(If us­ing a food pro­cessor, pulse and pro­cess to mix. Scrape sides with spat­ula.)

Add flour, lem­on zest, and rais­ins and mix well to blend all in­gredi­ents.

(If us­ing a food pro­cessor, add flour and lem­on zest and pulse a few times.   Scrape sides with spat­ula. Add rais­ins and pulse a few times. Al­low ma­chine to run and pro­cess dough a few seconds un­til mixed.)

Dough will be a thick, sticky bat­ter.

Pour bat­ter in­to greased pan. Cov­er with plastic wrap that has been greased on the in­side that will come in con­tact with the dough. Drape a kit­chen tow­el over the plastic-covered pan.

Let stand in a warm place (a turned-off oven works well) un­til double in bulk or un­til dough reaches the top of the pan, for about 1½ - 2 hours.

Pre­heat oven to 350 de­grees. 

Bake 40-45 minutes or un­til tooth­pick in­ser­ted near cen­ter comes out clean.

Care­fully re­move bab­ka from pan. Cool com­pletely.

Drizzle icing over bab­ka and sprinkle with al­monds.

Bab­ka freezes well.

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053)

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