This is an Easy Polish Easter Babka or Babka Wielkanocna, so many have asked about such a recipe – a simple yeast babka with raisins, like their babcia used to make at Easter.
When I started my food blog many years ago, I participated in a cake bake along, a group of food bloggers baking our way through a cake cookbook, all doing the same recipe and posting it every week. It was a big commitment and a wonderful learning experience.
You can imagine the need to find family and friends with whom to share baked goods. A cake a week when there are only two of us in the house is just too much and too tempting!
I took cakes to work, my sister took cakes to work, I baked cakes for church groups, when I moved to Poland, I baked for Polish friend’s birthdays, Ed took cakes to the Polish air base.
One week, I made a cake, and Ed took it to the base. The tradition at this small base was that the pilots all met for coffee; it was the perfect time to all have a slice of cake. The pilots said the cake reminded them of a Polish babka.
They explained to Ed that babka also meant pretty girl. It never hurts to flatter the baker. Actually, babka means grandmother.
It’s thought that the name comes from the shape. Polish babkas are usually baked in bundt pans that might resemble an old woman’s skirt.
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They’re often a yeast cake like this one, sometimes a yeast bread rolled with swirls of cinnamon or chocolate, and sometimes, they’re a cake leavened with baking powder rather than yeast. The common element is the shape.
You can finish this cake, which is kind of a cross between bread and cake, with a glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar.
If you find yourself with leftovers, not likely, but it could happen, it’s similar to Italian Panettone and ideal for making French toast or bread pudding.
A lightly sweet yeast bread with rum soaked raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins (I had golden and dark raisins, and dried currants, so I used 1/3 cup of each)
- enough rum, brandy, or soplica to cover the raisins
- 1 packet dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/4 cup warm water (110 F)
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup scalded milk (heated to near boiling)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 4 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons lemon or orange zest
- butter and breadcrumbs to prepare pan
- powdered sugar for finishing or a glaze made of 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1-2 tablespoons of the raisin soaked rum
- Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with rum, soak for two hours or warm in microwave for 45 seconds to speed up the process
- Add yeast to a small bowl or cup and cover with warm water, it should become foamy
- Cream butter, sugar, and salt
- Add milk and vanilla, mix until mixture cools
- Mix in eggs and yeast mixture, then flour
- Add citrus zest and raisins (which have been strained from the rum, reserve rum for the glaze)
- Butter bundt pan and sprinkle with unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
- Add batter to pan, cover and let rise until almost to the top of the pan
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, internal temp should be at least 190.
- Cook 10 minutes before removing from pan, and cool
- Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze
The rise on my babka wasn’t perfectly even, so I had to trim the top (which become the bottom when you flip it out of the pan) so that it would sit level on the serving plate
Substitute candied peel for half of the raisins and the citrus zest
Rather than soaking the raisins in rum, poke holes in the cake before removing from the pan, and pour a rum syrup over (1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1-2 tablespoons rum, cook to a boil, swirling until sugar dissolves), let the syrup soak in before removing from pan
Keywords: Easy Polish Easter Babka (Babka Wielkanocna)
An accountant by trade and a food blogger since 2009, Lois Britton fell in love with Polish cuisine during the years she lived in Poznań, Poland. As the creator of PolishHousewife.com, she loves connecting readers with traditional Polish recipes. Lois has a graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography from the University of South Florida. She is the author of The Polish Housewife Cookbook, available on Amazon and on her website.