Megan, coffee shop and retail supervisor of our Market Place Cafe and The Overlook Artisanal Coffeehouse and Wine Bar, recently presented another of her highly anticipated coffee seminars for residents. Megan’s seminars are always filled with tastings of the most delicious coffees and culinary delights. For this event, she pared French roast coffee with this delicious recipe for babka.
Babka is a slightly sweet yeast cake with a rich history. Ari Weinzweig’s illuminating history of babka reveals that babka, which means “little grandmother” in Ukranian, Russian, and Eastern European Yiddish, has always been popular where those languages are spoken. In Poland, traditional babka, is baked in a swirled pan, resembling a peasant woman’s swirling skirt. Instead of being baked in a swirly babka pan, Jewish babka is usually baked in a loaf pan and topped with streusel. There are many variations of this delicious bread which can be made with numerous flavors that include chocolate, cinnamon, cheese, rum, raisin, and the list goes on.
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
¼ cup warm water (110 degrees)
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup white sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup lukewarm milk
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 ½ cups farmer cheese (creamed or grated)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon peel (orange can be substituted)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of sugar over the warm water; Stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Combine the ½ cup butter, ¼ cup sugar, salt, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, milk, and 3 eggs in a bowl with 1 cup of flour to form soft dough. Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding small amounts of flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Shape the dough into a round, and place it in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Beat together the farmers’ cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, sour cream, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, lemon peel in a bowl until smooth. Set the filling aside. Lightly butter a baking sheet or use a piece of parchment, set aside.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 10-inch by 12 inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Spread the cheese filling evenly over the dough. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, starting from the long end; twist the dough 6-8 times to form a rope. Pinch the seams and ends closed and arrange the rope dough on your prepared pan. Cover loosely and let rise 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the babka until deep golden brown, 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Place wire rack and remove the pan. Allow the babka to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.