It seems that our eastern European rebellious brethren have many different types of cakes, pastries, and breads that they call “Babka.” This is the more coffee-cake-y, suitable for breakfast or for eating-in-front-of-the-computer-while-watching-last-week’s-episode-of-Grey’s-Anatomy (beta-tested with great success with the grain-free-gluten-free element in the household.) I can’t profess to know everything there is to know about the eastern European folk among us, but I do know this: if they call it “Babka” then it’s worth a try, and then another try, and yet another, until the whole damn cake is gone in a day-and-a-half (also learned from experience.) Please take this under advisement.
I debated putting this on my blog since it’s not a spectacular presentation, but in the end I decided to include it here for two reasons: 1.) it’s in Kaffeehaus and I said I was going to try to bake my way through the book and including it among the missions was, by default, necessary; and 2.) it’s damn good, not in the semi-orgasmic transcendence of a rich chocolate dessert, but in the “This is vaguely reminiscent of what Ma used to make when I was but a wee child” sort of way. Make this particular sort of Babka: you won’t be disappointed.
Babka (Walnut Crown Cake)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (my own special twist on this recipe. Feel free to add up to 1 tsp if you are a real spice fiend [which I am, and just might do next time I make this cake])
- 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
Ingredients, rum glaze:
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tbs rum, or more if needed (or desired) (yes please, make it boozy!)
- 1 tbs water, or more if needed
- To make the cake: position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10″ springform pan.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until well combined. Beat in half the milk, then half the flour mixture; repeat with the remaining milk and flour.
- Using an stand mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir about 1/4 of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remainder.
- Combine walnut and raisins. Spread half the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle walnuts and raisins over the batter, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. Cover with the remaining batter.
- Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60-70 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the spring. Invert and remove the bottom of the pan; turn upright and cool completely.
- To make the glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, rum, and water and whisk until the consistency of heavy cream is achieved, adding more rum and water as needed. Place the cake on a wire rack over a sheet pan and pour the glaze over the cake, coaxing it over the edge with a spatula. Let stand until glaze sets.
Simple, but ultimately easy to make and devour before knowing what you’ve done.