Want to add another babka to your repertoire? I came across Babka poznańska or grandmother from Poznań in one of my Polish cookbooks. This was a new one for me, but as someone who lived in Poznań, I was curious.
You may know babka as a rolled yeast bread with a sweet filling, but the name also applies to pound cake-like batters leavened with baking powder. It has to do with the shape of a bundt pan. They resemble a grandmother’s skirt, although, babkas are now often baked in loaf pans.
I searched a few Polish food blogs (the ones written in Polish), looking for some background on the cake. There were no explanations for the name, but an ingredient gave me a clue. This babka includes potato flour as well as wheat.
Poznań and the surrounding Wielkapolska region are known for potatoes. They have their own regional word for potato – pyra. In fact, people from this region are sometimes referred to with the same nickname.
While my fellow food bloggers didn’t explain the name of the cake, they did offer some comments that might have scared me off if it weren’t for my ties to Poznań. They described it as dry, more than one saying you’d need a cup of tea to wash it down or suggested that it was better day-old and spread with butter and jam (which is a delicious option on any day). One blogger said the texture was sandy. Stick with me. It will be worth it!
Determined, I made this cake twice!
One thing I learned is that potato flour soaks up more liquid than wheat flour. The first time, I used volume to measure the ingredients. The potato flour was the last to be added. I watched the batter go from light and fluffy to dense and stiff. I baked it. We tasted it. I threw it away.
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That’s not something I’m used to doing. Convinced that I could have been more accurate using weigh to measure the ingredients, I got out my kitchen scale and tried again.
Again the last ingredient in the mixing bowl was the potato flour, and I stopped after I’d added about half of the potato flour that I’d weight out, and I’m glad that I stopped when I did. The cake turned out nicely. It has that certain je ne sais quoi from the potato flour, but the texture did not suffer because of it. In fact, it was delicious.
The recipe below is adjusted to match the amounts used in my second and better cake. I really do recommend serving it with a bit of butter and jam, but not because you have to.
Babka poznańsska a pound cake-like babka that includes potato flour
- 14 tablespoons butter (200g)
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose wheat flour (280g)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons potato flour (100g)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch salt
- butter or oil (to grease pan)
- plain, dried breadcrumbs (to prepare pan)
- powdered sugar (for dusting)
- Preheat oven to 350 F (170 C).
- Melt the butter and cool.
- Add the eggs and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the lemon juice and zest.
- Add the flours, baking powder, and salt, mix until it’s well combined, but take care not to over mix.
- Add the butter and mix just until incorporated.
- Grease a bundt pan with butter or oil, sprinkle with plain, dried breadcrumbs. When the pan interior is covered, turn the pan upside down and tap to remove excess breadcrumbs.
- Add the cake batter to the pan, smooth the top. Bake for 35 to. 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, or the internal temperature is about 205 F (95 C).
- Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. If needed, use a wooden skewer to run between the cake and the pan to help it release. Turn the cake out onto a plate. Cool.
- Sift powdered sugar over the cake.
Keywords: Babka poznanska, potato cake