Polish Babka and remember to proof your yeast!  #Breadbakers

Polish Babka and remember to proof your yeast! #Breadbakers

Happy Belated Easter to everyone!  Our Bread Bakers Tuesday falls just a couple days after Easter this year, but our theme is still Easter breads around the world, hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  These breads will be splendid for other celebrations as well!  You may be saving up special recipes for when we can all relax our social distancing for that matter.  So enjoy all the ideas you will see from all our bakers.  Pin and save for later, for now, or for when ingredients are available!

Now I realize it may be getting difficult to find flour and yeast in the grocery stores.  If you have yeast sitting around or in the fridge that you may not have used in a while, do yourself a favor and check to see that it is still active.  I am telling you this so you can avoid wasting precious and/or expensive ingredients by using kaput yeast.  I actually tried out two different recipes and three different bakes this month.  The first worked fine, but I forgot to adapt to use a sponge, which I had wanted to try.  The second was a total fail, though I tried to rescue it and its fillings.  I have been baking so much with sourdough this past year that I guess I have not used up my instant yeast as quickly as normal and it really was a total dud.  I gave it over a day to rise, even added more yeast and remixed it.  Well, if the yeast is dead, that's no help!  It was so gutting to throw it out, there was no saving it.  But fortunately I had some active dry yeast in the fridge as well that I had shared with my mom and when I tested it, woohoo!  It was still active.

By the way to test your yeast, and you can do this with sugar or without, dissolve one package of yeast (2¼ tsp) and 1 teaspoon sugar in ¼ cup warm water (110° to 115°F).  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. If the mixture foams up nicely, the yeast mixture can be used because the yeast is active.  If it does not foam, the yeast should be discarded.  (This works for both active dry and instant yeast.)

I tested both a Babka and Kugelhopf style recipe and ultimately decided to go with the Babka, though both are good.  The syrup soak just means the Babka will last a bit longer before going dry and stale.  The Kugelhopf is a bit more rich.  My original Babka had golden raisins and chopped dates for filling and while I love dates, they were probably a bit sweet for the cake.  All raisins and some citrus peel would have been excellent.  My other attempts included chopped dried apricots and chocolate, and for the cake pictured below, dried cranberries, white chocolate and dark chocolate.

Polish Babka makes one medium bundt cake or an 9x5" loaf
from King Arthur Flour
½ cup (113g) lukewarm milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
heaping ½ tsp salt
¼ cup (50g) sugar
¼ cup (4 tbsp, 57g) softened butter
2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, divided
2 tsp instant yeast
¼ cup (43g) currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
¼ cup (43g) candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel, or mixed dried fruit, chopped

Rum syrup
½ cup (99g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (57g) water*
1-2 tbsp (14g to 28g) rum or spirit of choice*
*Or substitute apple juice for the water and rum.

Icing (optional) (I prefer to serve with whipped cream!)
1 cup (113g) confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp (28g) milk

Place milk, yeast, and 1 cup flour in a mixing bowl.  Allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place until slightly puffy.  Add remaining ingredients except for the fruit and beat at medium speed until cohesive.  Increase mixing speed to high and beat for 2 minutes.   Add the fruit and beat gently, just to combine. 
Cover the bowl and let the batter rest/rise for 60 minutes; it may not appear to do too much. 
Scoop the batter into a well greased 10-cup Bundt pan. Cover the pan, and let the dough rest/rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the babka for 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf or cake reads at least 190°F. While the babka is baking, prepare the soaking syrup.  Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and boil, swirling the liquid in the pan, until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat. Remove the babka from the oven when it tests done.  Poke it all over gently with a toothpick, skewer, or fork, and slowly pour the syrup over the babka's surface. 
When the syrup is fully absorbed (about 20 minutes or so), carefully loosen the babka's edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. If you choose to use the icing: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over completely cool babka.

I think this babka is just divine served with whipped cream.  Lots of whipped cream.  We're all isolated right now, nobody is watching, cover that sucker in a giant pile of cream.   It is also delicious toasted and buttered!

Be sure to check out our other extremely edible Easter treats this month:

Choereg (Armenian Easter Bread) by Making Miracles Easy Glazed Baked Donuts by Shockingly Delicious Folar da Páscoa by Culinary Adventures with Camilla German Osterbrot Easter Bread by Ambrosia Hot Cross Buns by Sneha's Recipe Polish Babka by A Messy Kitchen Kalach (Hungarian Easter Bread) by Passion Kneaded Kozunak (Bulgarian Easter Bread) by Karen's Kitchen Stories Russian Kulich - Easter Bread by Food Lust People Love Sourdough Hot Cross Buns by A Day in the Life on the Farm Sourdough Ukrainian Paska by Zesty South Indian Kitchen
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the Bread Bakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. #Cakes ##breadbakers #Dessert #Bread
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