Chocolate, pecan, orange and cinammon Babka – Polish Easter bread (four versions) recipe!

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Breads and viennoiserie, Celebration cakes

And how to make an amateur baker sad or happy!  But first let me introduce you to the Babka, a typical celebratory bread made in Poland and across Eastern Europe.  Some of you saw the Babka in my last post, which disappointingly lacked the recipe, so to make it up to you today there are not one but four versions!!   First there’s the Chocolate and cinammon babka with it’s classic flavours perfect for those who like their bread simple and direct.  Then comes the Pecan and cinammon babka with it’s lovely sticky crunchiness, followed by ‘let’s-throw-everything-delicious-in’ number three:  Pecan, chocolate, orange and cinammon babka!  The fourth version involves pecans and lemon curd and was delicious but not as attractive and very very messy to roll!!!  Not for the faint-hearted baker!  All the fillings are swirled, as far as possible, in a light and fluffy yeasted bread that’s not too sweet and similar to a panettone.  The Babka must have bewitched me as I made four this last week but I think the spell has broken now!  Phew!

Four Babkas

Four Babkas (clockwise order): chocolate and cinammon, pecan and cinammon, pecan and Lemon Curd, walnut (or pecan), chocolate, orange and cinammon.

What made this amateur baker sad was trying out Babka no. 1 on a Polish climber.  Excellent opportunity she thought to see if this Babka was like a ‘real’ Babka!  Unfortunately the youngish Polish cake tester hadn’t been in his country for 10 years and didn’t seem to remember Babkas very clearly.  He did laugh and say Babka is Polish for grandmother.  But at the crucial tasting, with fellow climbers looking on, he seemed mostly confused and not very impressed with my version!  Too fluffy, he said (too fluffy?  Can a bread be too fluffy?!).  Well,  I was quite disappointed but it could be worse.  Other climbers said it was delicious and ate loads of slices!

Since on the internet this bread is described as fluffy I’m still confused about ‘real’ Babkas!  Google images show many types, with some loaves of thinly rolled dough and long swirls of chocolate. Hmm… definitely less fluffy.  Research to be continued… must visit Poland!  And must practise rolling to get lots of swirls!  Oh and I’ll tell you about my ‘happy moment’ later but some of you have been awaiting this recipe for days and days, so here it is my friends.

Pecan and Cinammon Babka

No. 2 The pecan and cinammon babka

I adapted the recipe from ‘World’s Best Cakes’ by Roger Pizey which serves 12.  Babka no.1 was enormous and threatening to overblob out of the tin so I reduced quantities to serve 9.  The bigger one is still more attractive so I’ll give you those quantities in parenthesis – if you use these prepare to be alarmed! 🙂

The recipe – before you start please note that only women were reportedly allowed to make Babkas and the men were locked out of the kitchen during baking!.

Preparation

Butter and flour your mould (Bundt or loaf tin) – If you use a loaf tin (around 11x24cm) then please use 3/4 of the quantities, multiplying by 0.75:  22g fresh yeast, 97g milk, 48g butter, … 1 tsp vanilla extract, etc.

077fcaad-be52-4af4-a7c5-d69810084959_jpeg[1]Bread dough

 Quantities in bold serve 9 (in parenthesis 12)                                    

  •  30g (40g) fresh yeast
  • 130g (173g) fresh full-fat milk
  •  64g (85g) softened unsalted butter
  •  58g (78g) caster sugar
  •    6g (7g) honey or invert sugar (helps keep bread moist)
  •  56g egg yolks – 3 eggs (74g – 4 yolks)
  • grated zest of 1 (1 and a quarter) orange
  • 1 and a quarter tsp (1 and a half tsp) vanilla extract
  • 320g (425g) plain flour whisked together with three quarters tsp (1 tsp) salt

Fillings:  scroll down for the ingredients (choose your preferred filling or invent)

Method   

First prepare the yeast!

Then make the dough:

If adding grated orange zest do it now with the vanilla essence.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, do it all by hand.  Even if you have a stand mixer, knead by hand for 5 to 10 mins!

IMPORTANT:  add as little flour as possible!  You might need to add a few tablespoons but the dough should stay sticky.  After kneading for around 5 or 10 minutes the dough should come off the sides of the mixer bowl, or the table.  But still be sticky if you touch it with your finger.  To see a very similar dough and kneading technique, watch Fuensanta’s video for her Monas.

077fcaad-be52-4af4-a7c5-d69810084959_jpeg(1)[1]Make a ball and prove:

When the dough has doubled, knead for a minute or so:

Now for the fillings!

For all the Babkas:

  • Roll the dough out to a 20x30cm (approximately) rectangle about 0.75 to 1cm high.

1.  Classic Chocolate and cinammon babka with a twist (optional) or placed in the tin without cutting and twisting:

  • 45g (60g) softened butter mixed with three quarters (1) teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 150g (200g) finely chopped or grated dark 70% chocolate
Babka instructions

First spread combined softened butter and cinammon, sprinkle on chocolate, roll towards you, and press gently with rolling pin to get required length for mould.

Babka instructions 2

Optional twisting:  cut down the middle and then plait the strands. Put in your tin, twisting ends together and with the seam side facing upwards.

2.  Pecan and cinammon babka:

  • 40g softened butter
  • 70g light muscovado (or brown) sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 60g finely chopped pecan nuts

As for Babka no.1, but first spread the softened butter, then sprinkle on the sugar/cinammon and pecans.

Pecan and cinammon Babka – probably best without the twist – a lot of the pecans fall out!

3.  Pecan (or walnut), chocolate, orange and cinammon babka:

  • 50g finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 40g softened butter
  • 70g light muscovado (or brown) sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 50g dark 70% chocolate (grated or finely chopped)
  • 70g finely chopped pecans or walnuts

As for Babka no.2, but after you roll out your rectangle sprinkle on the candied orange peel.  Fold over in half and roll again to the required size.  Now spread the softened butter evenly then sprinkle on the remaining ingredients.  This way you’ll get a swirl of nuts, chocolate and cinammon, but also a separate line of candied orange.  I made this one without a twisted plait.

DSCF64234.  Pecan and lemon curd babka:

This was perhaps my favourite flavour because I love lemon.  But it’s so messy and hard to manage that it needs further research before quantities hit cyberspace.  Sorry!  If you make it, try a thick lemon curd spread in a thin even layer, with chopped pecans, a line of chopped candied lemon, and lemon zest in the dough.

Pecan and lemon curd Babka

Pecan and lemon curd Babka

The second proof (rise)

DSCF6050DSCF6060After filling and shaping your Babka, leave it in the tin for a second proof (rise) in a warm place.  Let it double in size (more or less), which will take 40 minutes to an hour (depending on how warm your place is).  If you press the dough lightly with your finger and it springs back it’s not ready yet. When the dough looks almost ready preheat the oven to 170°C (static, non-convection oven) or 150°C (fan-assisted oven).  When your fingerprint indent stays in it’s time to put them in the oven.  Bake around 35 to 40 minutes till golden brown (if it darkens too much on top cover loosely with foil for the last 5 or 10 minutes). 

Let it cool 10 minutes in the tin…

… then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

Let it cool completely then sieve a little icing sugar over the whole bread.  Apparently, in Poland of yore Babkas (the cakes, not the grandmothers) were left to cool on a soft eiderdown so they wouldn’t be crushed and no-one was allowed to speak above a whisper to avoid damaging this delicate cake.  So ‘Ssshh!  The cake’s cooling!’

Happiness is the smell of baked bread wafting over you and a nice warm slice when it’s at its best.  Excellent on the same day but already getting a little drier the next (like all brioche-style breads).  But once cool it keeps in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic film in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a few months.

Of course another happy moment was buying a little pressie for myself: the Bundt tin.  My first one ever, a Nordic Ware Bundt tin!  I’m not advertising but just really amazed by this beautiful solid tin which cakes just drop out of with a plop!!!  Oops, sorry my little Babka!

Anyway, I partly blame this magic tin for my overenthusiasm in baking four Babkas.  Though once you start kneading sweet bread it’s hard to stop and I did want to get it just right!

And if you’re wondering which version of the Babka to make, well you probably know I’m not a big fan of chocolate cakes or breads.  So next time I’d make a new version:  a Pecan, cinammon and orange babka (no.3 without the chocolate). Having said that, no.1 Chocolate babka was easiest to roll and fluffiest, without the weight of nuts and I’m finding no.3 Chocolate, nuts, cinammon and orange babka delicious today (all three slices!). Actually, please help me eat some of my Babkas!  Will also take them over to our Fiesta Friday #62 party, hosted by the lovely Angie@the novice gardener and co-hosted by Jess @Cooking Is My Sport! and Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs!  Come along and you’re sure to get a warm welcome and some delicious food!!!

no.3 Chocolate, pecan, orange and cinammon Babka

no.3 Chocolate, pecan, orange and cinammon babka

So which Babka or Polish Easter bread did you like best or would you make?  Do you think you’d like a bacon and egg Babka?  Or a chorizo and egg one? 

And while you’re visualising Babkas I’ll wish you a continuing lovely and happy Easter or weekend sweet reader!!  Till next time, happy baking, cooking and eating Easter or non-Easter goodies! 🙂

 

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Posted by

Making cakes with my French mother on Sundays was an important part of my childhood. As an adult I then experimented with baking books and internet recipes and did a great patisserie course in Le Cordon Bleu Paris. I'm still trying out new recipes and creating some of my own cakes with influences from all around the world, adding some healthy ones to the repertoire. Yes, I love cakes!!! :)

41 thoughts on “Chocolate, pecan, orange and cinammon Babka – Polish Easter bread (four versions) recipe!”

  1. Not just one babka, but four… I think you’ve really outdone yourself Lili! 🙂
    It’s nice to hear perspective on the various flavours, but they all sound so delicious to me, I don’t know how I’d choose!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comments!! And yes, I kind of overdid it a bit! 🙂 Glad to hear it’s useful though and I’d say follow your stomach! Which flavours or ingredients are calling out to you?! 🙂

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    • Thank you Annette! Glad you like the babkas! I agree with you – bundt tins are beautiful and I’m going to try and use my new one more… And maybe one day get some mini ones! 🙂

      Like

  2. Pingback: Week (10) of cakes – Easter, healthy stuff and a Victorian cake quiz! :) | lili's cakes

  3. Lili I love your babkas and I adore how you draw pictures of the process that is so cute. I have to say the crumb of the cakes is very open and soft looking. And four versions that is a great effort. Yours Audax. I hope you enjoy time with the Daring Kitchen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Audax for your lovely comments! Yeah, probably won’t do the 4 versions thing again!!! It’s hard to keep up with the eating and washing up…! But very happy you like the drawings and crumb! And looking forward to time at the Daring Kitchen… bought the apples for the tatin! 🙂 Lili x

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  4. Pingback: Apple tarte tatin with Chinese five spices and tamarind! A yummy healthy recipe! | lili's cakes

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