An easy to make bread for Easter or just to have around
Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of Easter time when my bapci (pronounced bop-chi, which is Polish for grandmother) would make babka bread. Each of her eight children would get a loaf or two for the traditional Easter dinner.
I still remember visiting her house on the day before Easter to bring the basket of food for the priest to bless in the traditional Polish manner. The smell of fresh bread was incredible. My mom would put a loaf of babka in the basket and let me put the basket on bapci’s dining room table to await the visit from the priest later in the day. I don’t know what happened to the basket or the babka recipe, but Joanne and I passed on to Bapci’s great-granddaughter a very special dining room table that continues to make special memories.
Luckily a friend had a recipe for babka from her Polish mother-in-law which tastes exactly like the bread bapci made. It too brings back memories. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Special thanks to Dorothy Pileski for providing the recipe. Bapci used raisins and sultanas when she had them, but they aren’t necessary. And I’m sure Bapci didn’t use vanilla, which would have been far too extravagant for her.
Soak the sultanas and raisins in hot water for 5-10 minutes and drain.
Heat the first three ingredients (milk, butter, and water) till like warm.
Beat eggs and sugar till creamy, add vanilla.
Blend yeast, sifted flour, sugar, and salt. Add warm milk mixture and beat for two minutes with the whisk attachment.
Switch to the dough hook then add egg mixture start adding reserved flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on board and knead till smooth, adding sultanas and raisins. Continue kneading until small bubbles start to form.
Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover and let rise till doubled, about 1.5 hours.
Punch down, shape into four 1 1/2 pound loaves, put into greased 10" x 5" x 3" bread pans and let rise again until the dough reaches the the top of the pan. Brush top carefully with mixture of one beaten egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of warm water.
Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 25 minutes or till top is brown and the babka sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans immediately and let cool.