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« Cherry Almond Babka »

When I decided a few weeks ago to bake a babka, I did not realize what I was getting myself into. In hindsight, I think that my mother did; she even volunteered to pick one up for me at the Polish bakery. But being me, I didn't get the subtle hint.

Just to be clear, the problem was not making the babka.  The problem was finding a babka recipe. Or should I say finding a babka recipe that actually produced an edible babka.

Before I settled on a recipe, it was very clear to me that the recipes I found on the internet were all over the map in terms of their formula (i.e ratio of ingredients).  In hind sight, I think that this wild variation stems from a basic misunderstanding of what Polish Babka is.  Polish Babka is an enriched bread, like Brioche and Challah, which traditionally contains dried fruit. (More modern versions are made with cheese or chocolate filling.)  It is not a cake.

The recipe I eventually made was originally published in Country Living Magazine (of all places). Like a traditional brioche, this babka is enriched with a small amount of sugar, several eggs and butter.  It also contains a small amount of sour cream for added richness.

The recipe recommends dissolving the yeast in warm milk, with an additional teaspoon of sugar. This made me very skeptical at first, but my skepticism quickly waned as I witnessed a feeding frenzy before my eyes. As you can see from the picture on the right, the yeast devoured the sucrose (from the sugar) and the lactose (from the milk) in no time flat.

I followed the recipe as written, which produced a silky and smooth dough. It took my dough approximately 90 minutes to double in bulk (but you should start checking after 60 minutes).

The punched down dough was extremely easy to roll out, fill and re-roll.

However, after the second rise (in my very sunny dining room), I realized that this dough should have been divided in half and rolled into 2 crescent shaped babkas.  This became even more apparent after I baked the babka.  As you can see below, my crescent shaped babka officially morphed into a circle after baking!

Despite it's ungainly appearance, the finished babka was absolutely delicious.  The dough was rich and moist, and the almond paste/cherry filling was to die for. I will definitely make this recipe again.

Here is the printable recipe.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for this post! I've never had babka, but I found a recipe very similar to this one in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking. The book has no photos, however, so I wasn't sure what I was going to end up with.

Now that I've seen yours and read your comments, I think I'm going to divide the dough in half before rolling out. It's nice to see what I'm making before I make it!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersparky514

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