The bakery takeover!

Mission 8: (Another!) Babka (of a different sort)

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)

Ingredients, 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

This entry was published on November 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm. It’s filed under Baking, Cake, Food photography, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Mission 8: (Another!) Babka (of a different sort)

  1. Babka always brings fond memories of my neighbour Baba and a dining room table full of Easter babka she would give away at church. She would patiently teach us how to make it and I remember how meticulous she was about braiding techniques. She would bake them in tin cans as well and I remember thinking that was really neat!
    I haven’t made it since then; this recipe might be a good place to start!


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