Easter Babka or Kulich is served for breakfast in Russia on Orthodox Easter morning. The delicious bread is often well decorated and presented with highly decorated Easter eggs. It is popular from the Balkans to Russia and around the world.
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups milk, warmed
- 1 Cup flour
- 1/2 Cup softened butter
- 1 Cup sugar
- 7 egg yolks
- 4 Cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- zest of one orange
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 Cup rum soaked raisins or sultanas, discard the soaking alcohol
- 1/2 Cup sliced almonds
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 pound powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Warm the milk in a glass bowl in the microwave…to lukewarm, no more than 30 seconds. Gradually stir into the milk the two packets of dry yeast, sugar and the flour using a whisk or a fork whisking until the mixture is smooth.
- Cover the mixture with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in bulk.
- Cream butter and sugar until very creamy and add the 7 egg yolks, one at a time and mixing well between each one. Add the vanilla and the orange flavoring. Mix well.
- Add the risen yeast mixture and add the 4 cups of flour/salt mixture and beat well. The dough will be quite soft.
- Leave the dough in the mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and, place it in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise until it is double in bulk.
- Saved some of large metal cans without painted surfaces to bake the Babka in them. Very large tomato cans work well for this. However you can bake it in a Bundt pan or Kugelhupf form or even in loaf pans. It is, after all a breakfast bread. But, if you are from Russian decent and want to be traditional, look and see if you have some old 2 pound metal coffee cans in some of your kitchen cabinets hidden away.
- Whatever baking form you will use, you will probably need two of them, grease them; you do not need to dust them with flour and set them aside until the dough is risen and is ready to be baked.
- While you wait… preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- When the dough has doubled in size, mix it gently and bring it down to almost the original bulk.
- Fill each prepared baking form about half full with the dough, and let it rise again until it doubles in bulk.
- Now place it into the preheated 350 degree F oven and bake the breads about 50 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven.
- Watch that the top does not brown too quickly, if it does place a piece of foil over each of the breads to slow down the browning.
- At about 45 minutes into the baking time, check the breads with a thermometer to see if they are close to being fully baked. The thermometer needs to read between 190 F and 200 F to be completely baked.
- When done, remove from the oven and place it on a rack to cool.
- Do not take it out of the baking pans until it is almost completely cooled. This is a very delicate bread it will break into pieces if taken out too soon.
- When it is out of the baking pan let it completely cool before glazing it with Royal Icing.
- Place egg white and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until very white in color and thick, but runny.
- Now add the 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice and mix again. The icing has to be thick but able to run down the sides of the bread. Place the bread onto a plate or platter to ice them, not on the platter that you will serve the bread on your buffet.
- With a big spoon drop the icing on top of the bread and help it a little to run down the sides. The drips do not have to drip all the way to the bottom of the bread, but do not be too concerned when they do in some cases and puddles collect at the bottom.
- When the icing is quite dry, you can plate the bread. You can let it dry uncovered overnight on the kitchen counter, if desired.
- Gently lift it off the plate and place it on a pretty platter ready for the occasion.
- The bread may be cut into thin wedges, from the top down, or, across into slices which may be then cut in half. A good bread knife is important.
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