Name and pronunciation: babka [bah-b-kah]
Description: marble cake
Type of cuisine: Eastern European
In Poland, we usually bake babka for Easter, but it is so quick, easy to prepare and everyone loves it, so it is great for any party or just as a weekend’s treat. There are many different recipes for babka, but I really like this one, since the cake is nice and moist inside, and stays fresh for good few days.
Depending on your form, about 12-16 servings • Preparation time: about 90 minutes • Baking time: about 60 minutes
✽ 250 g all-purpose flour
✽ 220 g sugar
✽ 150 g unsalted butter
✽ 5 eggs
✽ 5 tablespoons oil (choose one with the least flavour, such as canola oil)
✽ 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
✽ 1 tablespoon potato flour
✽ 1½ teaspoon baking powder
✽ 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
Melt the butter in a saucepan.
Sift both flours together with the baking powder to make sure they are thoroughly mixed.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are shiny, silky smooth, and almost white.
Once the eggs are ready, add the oil and butter. It is best to keep mixing while slowly trickling the butter in. This way the butter will get mixed into the eggs immediately and not sink to the bottom of your bowl.
Split the eggs into two equal parts to make them into two different flavours. You will also need to split the flour. Now, add vanilla powder and a half of the flour to one of the bowls with beaten. Blend until all ingredients are perfectly mixed. This is will be your vanilla batter.
Then, take out two tablespoons from the other half of the flour and replace them with two tablespoons of cocoa. Mix the cocoa into the flour with a whisk, before adding them to the second bowl with beaten eggs. Blend until perfectly combined. This way your chocolate batter is ready as well.
Grease the form with oil and get the oven hot to about 180ºC. Pour both flavours of batter into the form in patches alternating the flavours. After you have finished, take something thin and long, such as a chopstick or a kitting needle, and gently drag it around the form. Do not mix the batters, just stir them a little for a nice marble effect.
The way of baking a babka is very important. It needs to raise equally on all sides and not burn. Start from about 180ºC for about 30 minutes, then bake for another half an hours at about 160ºC. Check on your cake from time to time during baking (through the glass, opening the oven will lower the temperature) and if you notice it is rising more on one of the sides, you can turn the form and reduce the temperature a little. It may crack a bit, do not worry about it. Getting it absolutely perfect may take one or two goes, since it differs from one oven to another.
Babka needs to have a nice, golden crust. When you see it, take it out and check the inside. In order to do that, use a thin, metal probe, such as a knitting needle, and pierce the cake all the way through. Any liquid batter will stick to the needle and make it dirty. It is a sign your babka is not ready yet. Bake it until the probe is perfectly clean.
When ready, take it out of the oven and cool before flipping onto a plate and gently removing the form. Dust with powder sugar, or finish with caramel or lemon glaze.