Dessert/ Easter/ Polish Recipes

Polish Babka (Easter Yeast Babka with Raisins)

4 March 2022 By Aleksandra

Polish Easter Babka (Babka Wielkanocna) is a rich yeast-based bundt cake filled with raisins and glazed with icing. It’s delicate, moist, and rich, almost like a brioche. This sweet raisin bread would be great for any occasion – it’s absolutely amazing!

Yeast raisin babka glazed with icing on a cooling rack.

Polish Easter Babka

Polish Easter babka is a rich yeast-leaven bundt cake. The babka from my recipe comes out delicate, moist, and not dry, almost like a brioche – it’s great on its own and your first instinct will NOT be to slather it with butter, which often happens with yeast sweet bread recipes. It is similar to Italian panettone.

Babka is the general term for a bundt cake in Poland. Any type of cake baked in a bundt cake pan would be babka, for example, chocolate pound cake baked in a bundt pan would be chocolate babka (babka czekoladowa) and you should not confuse it with popular in the US Jewish chocolate babka which would be called ‘strucla’ in Poland. A bit confusing, I know!

To add a little bit to the confusion, Easter babka does not have to be yeast-based. This yeast sweet bread with raisins is definitely popular in Poland, especially for Easter, but many people make different kinds of babka for Easter. For example, in my family, my grandma always makes lemon babka (babka cytrynowa) for Easter which is basically just lemon pound cake. In conclusion, bundt cake-shaped baked goods are especially popular for Easter in Poland and are a part of the Easter basket that is taken to church for Easter by the Catholic people.

This particular type of babka is often called Easter babka (babka Wielkanocna) or yeast raisin babka (babka drożdżowa z rodzynkami).

This sweet raisin babka is really amazing and would be great for any occasion, all year round.

A slice of yeast raisin babka on a white plate.

Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make Polish yeast raisin babka:

Labeled ingredients for Polish yeast raisin babka.

This is a basic yeast dough recipe. This particular recipe is really rich, almost as rich as brioche, I’ve added lots of butter and lots of raisins. If you don’t like raisins you could omit them but I think they add so much flavor and moisture to this dessert, it would really be a shame.

Rum or brandy is optional. They add some flavor to the raisins but you could soak them in just boiling water or for a longer period of time in orange juice. You could also soak them in just rum for a longer period of time. Boiling water is used to speed up softening raisins. Don’t omit this step or the raisins will soak up the moisture from the babka.

Yeast raisin babka is known for using many egg yolks. Many recipes call for even 5-8 egg yolks. I think 2 egg yolks and 2 eggs are really enough. Instead, I’ve added more butter!

In Poland, fresh yeast is most often used, they can be found in every grocery store. Yeast dough made with fresh yeast rises faster but the yeast flavor is more pronounced. I used instant yeast for this recipe.

From leftover egg whites, you can make Polish cookies kokosanki (coconut macaroons).

How to measure flour

In the recipe card at the end of the post, I provided all the possible measurements for Polish babka – by volume and by weight. I’m always using a kitchen scale to make this recipe (and generally to develop the recipes for my website). If you’re weighing your ingredients on a scale your results will be very consistent and the same as mine. It’s really easier, quicker (you don’t have to clean all the measuring cups), and a kitchen scale is super cheap!

You can measure out all the ingredients for this recipe using measuring cups but I would recommend weighing flour.

Measuring the flour with measuring cups is unfortunately very inaccurate. 1 US cup of flour can weigh from 120g-140g, depending on how you’re filling your cup (1 US cup is 240ml, a European cup is 250ml). 20g is a little over 2 tablespoons of flour, so when this recipe calls for over 5 cups of flour, you could have added 10 tablespoons more flour which is over 1/2 cup! This will result in a dry babka. Check the consistency of the dough – it should be soft and rather loose, it should not be dense.

If you’d like to measure flour with cups you need to:

  • Fluff the flour by stirring it in the bag/flour container with a spoon.
  • Spoon the flour and sprinkle it into your measuring cup.
  • Sweep off the excess flour with the back of a knife.

How to make Polish babka step by step

Rum soaked raisins in a bowl. Yeast is being added to a mixture of milk and butter.

STEP 1: Add the raisins and rum into a small bowl. Stir the raising with rum for a minute so they absorb as much rum as possible then pour boiling water over to cover the raisins. Set aside.

STEP 2: Add 8 tablespoons butter (115g) into a medium saucepan and heat until melted. Add the cold milk, vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of sugar (50g, you can just eyeball it), stir until combined, then take the pot off the heat. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, make sure the temperature of the liquid is between 100-110°F (38-43°C) (pleasantly warm to your finger, it can’t be too hot) then stir in the yeast (adding yeast into a warm liquid will make them rise faster). After about 1-2 minutes you should see the yeast is starting to ‘bloom’ (will be frothy/foamy).

Eggs and sugar in a bowl. Beaten eggs and sugar in a bowl.

STEP 3: Add the eggs, egg yolks, lemon and orange zest, and the remaining sugar (1/2 cup=100g) into a large bowl.

STEP 4: Whisk until well combined.

Yeast mixture is being added to a dough. Roughly combined ingredients for babka dough.

STEP 5: Add the salt, flour, the yeast mixture, and drained raisins.

STEP 6: Stir with a spoon until roughly combined.

Babka dough in a bowl. Risen babka dough in a bowl.

STEP 7: Start kneading by hand or with a stand mixer using a dough hook attachment. Knead the dough until it has come together and it’s smooth (for about 7 minutes on speed 2 in KitchenAid), then slowly add the remaining 4 tablespoons of very soft butter. Add one tablespoon and knead the dough until the butter is incorporated, then add another tablespoon and repeat the process (it took me 6 minutes on speed 2 in the Kitchen Aid). If you’re kneading the dough by hand, it will take a little bit longer.

The dough will be loose, soft, and a little bit sticky. Scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl with a spatula and knead it by hand for a minute. After this time the dough should be smooth, soft, and should no longer stick to your hands (it will be oily and loose). If you have used a kitchen scale to measure out the flour you can trust the recipe and use the exact amount written in the ingredient list but if you’re using measuring cups you have to assess the texture of the dough and add more flour/liquid if necessary.

STEP 8: First rise: Form a smooth dough ball, put it back in the bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic foil, and place in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume (I’m putting it in a turned off oven with a light on).

Babka dough in a bundt pan. Risen babka dough in a bundt pan.

STEP 9: Grease a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan generously with soft butter (I used a 10 cup /25 cm (measured at the top) bundt cake pan).

STEP 10: Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it for 30 seconds. Stretch the dough into a log then pinch thoroughly both ends together. Place it in the bundt pan. Wrap tightly with plastic foil and let rise for 30 minutes or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.

STEP 11: Place the baking rack on the lowest position (the babka will be quite tall). Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Bake the babka for 40 minutes (if you have used a larger baking pan and your cake is not as tall as mine, you might have to bake it for a shorter period of time).

STEP 12: Invert the cake on a cooling rack and let cool completely (it will take about 1-2 hours).

STEP 13: When the babka is cooled, make the glaze by whisking powdered sugar with lemon juice and water until thick glaze forms.

Pour the glaze over the babka. Let the glaze set a bit then cut the babka into servings with a serrated knife.

Enjoy!

Storage

Keep this babka tightly wrapped in plastic foil. It will be good for even 5 days but a little bit dryer. It can also be frozen.

More Polish dessert recipes you may like

Yeast raisin babka on a cooling rack. 1 piece is being put out with a cake server.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Polish Easter Babka (Babka Wielkanocna)

Polish Easter Babka (Babka Wielkanocna) is a rich yeast-based bundt cake filled with raisins and glazed with icing. It’s delicate, moist, and rich, almost like a brioche. This sweet raisin bread would be great for any occasion – it’s absolutely amazing!
Pin This Recipe! SAVE THIS RECIPE
Polish Easter babka glazed with icing on a black cooling rack.
Print Recipe

RATE THE RECIPE

(click on the stars)

4 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
rising time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 1 babka
Calories 478kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the babka:

  • 1 cup raisins 150g
  • 2 tablespoons rum or brandy
  • 3/4 cup milk 180g
  • 13 tablespoons butter 185g, divided, 8T melted+5T soft
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150g), divided, 1/4 + 1/2 cup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon instant yeast 11g
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 cups (625g) flour spooned and leveled not scooped

for the glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 180g
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 tablespoon water

Instructions

  • Add the raisins and rum into a small bowl. Stir the raising with rum for a minute so they absorb as much rum as possible then pour boiling water over to cover the raisins. Set aside.
  • Add 8 tablespoons butter (115g) into a medium saucepan and heat until melted. Add the cold milk, vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of sugar (50g, you can just eyeball it), stir until combined, then take the pot off the heat. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, make sure the temperature of the liquid is between 100-110°F (38-43°C) (pleasantly warm to your finger, it can’t be too hot) then stir in the yeast (adding yeast into a warm liquid will make them rise faster). After about 1-2 minutes you should see the yeast is starting to ‘bloom’ (will be frothy/foamy).
  • Add the eggs, egg yolks, lemon and orange zest, and the remaining sugar (1/2 cup=100g) into a large bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add the salt, flour, the yeast mixture, and drained raisins.
  • Stir with a spoon until roughly combined then start kneading by hand or with a stand mixer using a dough hook attachment. Knead the dough until it has come together and it's smooth (for about 7 minutes on speed 2 in KitchenAid), then slowly add the remaining 5 tablespoons of very soft butter. Add one tablespoon and knead the dough until the butter is incorporated, then add another tablespoon and repeat the process (it took me 6 minutes on speed 2 in the Kitchen Aid). If you're kneading the dough by hand, it will take a little bit longer.
  • The dough will be loose, soft and a little bit sticky. Scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl with a spatula and knead it by hand for a minute. After this time the dough should be smooth, soft, and should no longer stick to your hands (it will be oily and loose). If you have used a kitchen scale to measure out the flour you can trust the recipe and use the exact amount written in the ingredient list but if you’re using measuring cups you have to assess the texture of the dough and add more flour/liquid if necessary.
  • First rise: Form a smooth dough ball, put it back in the bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic foil, and place in a warm place for about 1 3/4 hours or until doubled in volume (I'm putting it in a turned off oven with a light on).
  • Grease a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan generously with soft butter (I used a 10 cup /25 cm (measured at the top) bundt cake pan).
  • Second rise: Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it for 30 seconds. Stretch the dough into a log then pinch thoroughly both ends together. Place it in the bundt pan. Wrap tightly with plastic foil and let rise for 30-40 minutes or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.
  • Place the baking rack on the lowest position (the babka will be quite tall). Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Bake the babka for 40 minutes (if you have used a larger baking pan and your cake is not as tall as mine, you might have to bake it for a shorter period of time).
  • Invert the cake on a cooling rack and let cool completely (it will take about 45 minutes-1 hour).
  • When the babka is cooled, make the glaze by whisking powdered sugar with lemon juice and water until thick glaze forms.
  • Pour the glaze over the babka. Let the glaze set a bit then cut the babka into servings with a serrated knife.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Keep this babka tightly wrapped in plastic foil. It will be good for even 5 days but a little bit dryer. It can also be frozen.
  • How to measure flour: I’m using the “spoon and level method” so 1 cup of flour in my recipes weighs 125g. Fluff the flour by stirring it in the bag/flour container with a spoon. Spoon the flour and sprinkle it into your measuring cup. Sweep off the excess flour with the back of a knife. I really recommend using a digital scale for measuring flour for perfect and consistent results!
  • Some troubleshooting:
  • Make sure the milk-butter-sugar liquid is not too hot, or you will kill the yeast (the dough won’t rise). There is no way to salvage the dough if the yeast has been killed. On the other hand, the liquid must be warm enough or it will take longer for the dough to rise.
  • If the dough hasn’t risen for 2-3 hours and you’re sure you’ve not killed the yeast, you can put it in the fridge overnight to rise (it may just need more time to rise, this can happen if the butter-milk liquid was not hot enough or if you have not used enough yeast). Do not bake a dough that has not risen.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/12 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Dessert
Cuisine polish
Diet Vegetarian
Tried this Recipe? Rate the Recipe and tell us what you think in the Comments!

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Cindee
    18 April 2022 at 14:07

    2 stars
    While the flavor was good, this was incredibly dry! In my 50 years of baking, never had a cake so dry it crumbles when cut. I followed the directions and even weighed all ingredients. Even tried to salvage it by making French toast the next morning and it fell apart in the egg dip. Too bad. Was hoping for better.

    • Reply
      Aleksandra
      18 April 2022 at 16:13

      I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe it was baked for too long?

    Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating




    The maximum upload file size: 1 MB. You can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here