You will need cylindrical pans for this bread, but 2-pound coffee cans will work. Ukrainian babka is sliced in rounds across the loaf from the bottom. The sliced bottom crust is not eaten (until it's the only piece left!) and serves as a protective cover to prevent the rest of the bread from drying out.
Freeze leftover egg whites and save for leftover egg white recipes.
Larger photo of Ukrainian babka.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yield: 3 Ukrainian Easter Babkas
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 3 packages active dry yeast
- 10 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) melted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light or dark raisins (optional)
- To Make the Sponge: Scald the milk and cool it to 110 degrees. Place 1/3 cup flour in a medium bowl and pour the milk over, beating until smooth. Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in lukewarm water, and stir in the yeast. Combine with the milk-flour paste, beating well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until light and bubbly.
- To Make the Dough: In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the egg yolks, whole eggs and salt. Add the 1 cup sugar and continue beating until light. Beat in the butter, vanilla and lemon zest. Add the sponge to this mixture and mix well. Add the flour and knead 7 minutes by machine or 10 minutes by hand. Add the raisins if using. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
- Punch down dough, knead a few times and let it rise again. Grease babka cylinders or coffee tins. Fill the pans 1/3 full. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until tripled. Brush tops with 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk or water.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake 30 minutes, then lower temperature to 275 degrees and bake 15-20 minutes longer. Cover tops with aluminum foil, if they are browning too quickly. Babkas are baked at a high temperature at first so the dough will puff up and form a firm crust, and then the temperature is lowered so the dough doesn't scorch before it is done baking.
- Remove from the oven and let stand in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out of pan, running a knife around them, if necessary, and cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, the cooled loaves may be iced with a confectioners' sugar glaze.