Baking this Cranberry Orange Babka reminded me of a babka story. When I was baking my way through a cake cookbook, a cake a week, Ed would often take a cake to work while we were in Poland. One week, he was working at the other F-16 base in Poland, near Łask, so this group got to sample the weekly baking.
Tradition at this smaller base included all the pilots gathering for a tea break, so my contribution was perfect. The Polish pilots said the cake reminded them of a babka; they then went on to tell Ed that babka referred to a pretty girl.
Actually, it means grandmother. The yeast cake, which is usually baked in a bundt pan, is said to resemble a grandmother’s skirt, but I do appreciate their attempt to flatter the cook.
Cranberry Orange Babka or Babka żurawina z pomarańczą is only the second babka I’ve made; it seemed like the perfect flavor combination for this time of year.
The recipe is adapted from the King Arthur website. With fresh and dried cranberries, the little red jewels, żurawina, are the predominant flavor. The yeast dough is light and tender, the perfect medium to convey the cranberry orange jam-like mixture.
Whether you identify as a pretty girl or a grandmother, or a pretty grandmother (handsome grandfather?), I hope you’ll enjoy cranberry-orange babka zurawina z pomarancza.
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A colorful and tart yeast bread
for the dough:
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (110 F)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg egg
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
for the filling:
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon butter
- teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pour warm milk into a bowl, sprinkle with dried yeast and sugar
- Stir, let sit about 5 minutes, it should begin to get frothy
- Add egg, butter, vanilla, 1 teaspoon orange zest, flour, and salt, stir and knead until everything is incorporated into a smooth dough
- Lightly grease a bowl, put dough into bowl and turn over (to lightly grease the top), cover and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes
- Make the filling while the dough rises by adding orange juice, brown sugar, and all the cranberries to a saucepan
- Cook over medium low heat until the fresh cranberries begin to pop and the texture becomes jam-like
- Remove from heat, stir in buter, orange zest, and cinnamon, cool
- Roll out the dough to form a 12 inch x 14 inch rectangle
- Spread the cranberry mixture over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch near one of the short ends bare
- Roll up the dough starting from the opposite side, pinch the edge without filling to seal the roll
- Slice in half lengthwise, place both halves next to each other with cut sides up, twist the two pieces around each other, keeping the cut sides up (if you study my photo, you’ll see I forgot this step)
- Pinch the ends together and place in a greased 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until it just begins to get higher than the pan
- Preheat over to 350
- Bake for 45 minutes (internal temp 190 F), loosley tenting with foil after 30 miinutes to keep it from getting too dark
- Rub the top with butter after baking to keep the crust soft
- Cook in the pan for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack
- Slice to serve
Keywords: cranberry orange babka