Many countries have their own version of this egg-rich, cake-like bread. This simple, slightly sweet, citrus-scented Ukrainian Easter one is typically baked in tall and cylindrical moulds just like Russian Kulich and Italian panettone.
- 5 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 whole egg, at room temperature
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 185 ml (¾ cup) lukewarm milk
- 10 g (3 teaspoons) dried yeast
- finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- 525 g (3½ cups) plain flour, plus extra to dust
- 150 g butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 170 g (1 cup) seedless raisins
- melted butter, to grease
- 370 g (3 cups) pure icing sugar
- 3-4 tbsp water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1¼ hours
Put the egg yolks, egg, sugar, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until pale and well combined. Add the milk, yeast and lemon rind and beat on low speed to combine. Gradually beat in 300 g (2 cups) of the flour on low speed until combined. With the motor running gradually add the butter, a cube at a time, alternating with the remaining 225 g (1½ cups) flour until a smooth, soft dough forms. Replace the beater with a dough hook and continue to knead on low speed for about 6 minutes or until very smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, turn onto a lightly floured bench and knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.) Knead in the raisins. Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draught-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Grease and lightly flour 12 x 125 ml (½ cup) dariole moulds. Punch the centre of the dough down with your fist and turn onto a well-floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, roll into balls and drop each into a prepared tin. Cover the moulds with a slightly damp tea towel and set aside in a warm draught-free place for 30 minutes or until the dough has risen to the top of the tins.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Bake the babkas in preheated oven for 28-30 minutes, covering the tops with foil if they start to brown too quickly, or until cooked when tested with a skewer and they sound hollow when tapped on the base. Stand in the moulds for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the Icing, put the icing sugar in a medium bowl and stir in the water to make a medium coating consistency. Spread over the tops of the babka, allowing it to drizzle down the sides. Set aside for the icing to set. Serve warm or at room temperature cut into slices.
• The babka dough can also be baked in two 9 x 19 cm (base measurement) loaf tins. Grease and lightly flour as for the moulds. Divide the dough in half, roll each portion into a log about 15 cm long and place in the prepared tins. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer and they sound hollow when tapped on the base.
• This babka is best eaten the day it is made. To freeze, wrap well in plastic wrap and then seal in an airtight container or feezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Trish Heagerty. Food preparation by Wendy Quisimbung.
This recipe is from our online column, Bakeproof: Easter rituals.