When I was really little, we would go to my grandparents house for Easter. At breakfast, they always had this really good bread called babka. I had forgotten all about it until a few years ago, when something triggered the memory. I went searching for some, but I could only find one bakery that had them and it was way more than I wanted to pay. Ever since, I’ve looked for them each year at Easter to no avail. This year, I decided I would just make my own already. A quick search of the internet showed me that this was easier said than done – recipes were few and far between, they seemed to have crazy differences (some had tons of sugar and few eggs, others few eggs and tons of sugar), and most recipes seemed like they would feed an army.
A little research showed me that there are actually two types of Babka – an Eastern European/ Polish kind and a Jewish kind. The Polish babka is an eggy bread that is traditionally served at Easter, while the Jewish version is closer to a cake with a streusel topping. The Polish version was definitely what I was looking for, so I sent out a twitter message asking if anyone knew of any good recipes for it. It actually turned out that Cheryl from Backseat Gourmet was baking Babka that day too, and we shared out progress as we went along. It didn’t take long to realize that the recipe I was using was no good – my dough wasn’t rising at all! Hers was successful though, so she very kindly emailed me the recipe that she used. I gave it another try the next day, with much more success. The resulting bread was light and fluffy, with an eggy and slightly sweet dough that is similar to brioche. I filled my bread with chocolate and cheese, which I thought I remembered from my grandparents, but i think I actually remember it from when I was a little older and we bought babkas at the grocery store. When I read her post about eating raisin-studded babka slathered with butter, I remembered that’s how we ate it back then. Either way thought is delicious, and this would be a special treat on Easter morning.
I don’t have a bundt or tube pan so I made a makeshift one using a springform pan and a ramekin. I just set the ramekin upside down in the center of the pan and twisted the bread dough around it. It worked just fine, so I’m glad I didn’t go out and buy a special pan for this.