Friday, March 8, 2013

Bake Your Babka!

In every issue of Martha Stewart Living, Ms. Stewart's calendar is featured. It's to give readers hints, reminders, and suggestions of things to do throughout the month; such as, remove, wash, and store storm windows; organize your garden shed; and host a cozy brunch. This month on Martha's to-do list was "bake a babka." I immediately texted my best friend to tell her that Martha suggested we bake a babka. I followed up with, "What's a babka?" She didn't know, so I looked it up. It is a coffee cake, often made to eat on Easter Sunday to celebrate the rising of Christ.

Here is Martha's babka recipe:

Martha's Babka

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 of a 2-ounce yeast cake
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Grated rind of 2 oranges
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 8 to 9 cups sifted unbleached flour
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup muscat raisins
  • 1 cup golden raisins

Directions

  1. Heat the milk; stir in the butter until melted; cool to lukewarm. Proof the yeast in the warm water.
  2. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until thick. Add the salt, grated rinds, vanilla, and Grand Marnier. Add the milk-butter mixture to the egg mixture. Stir in the yeast.
  3. Add the flour, a cupful at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon. The dough should not be dry, but it should not be sticky. Too much flour will make a dry, crumbly cake. Add the almonds and raisins.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for about 5 minutes, until dough comes away from your hand. Butter a very large bowl and put dough in bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down and let rise a second time until almost doubled.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the pans generously. (You can sprinkle pans with a tablespoon of sugar if you wish.) Divide the dough into 3 portions. Arrange evenly on the pans and cover loosely. Let rise to top of pans.
  6. Bake cakes in oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. There should be a hollow sound when you tap the top with your knuckles. Cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto racks to cool.

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