Easter wouldn’t be Easter in my house without a delicious sweet bread! So this year, in honour of Ukraine and my Polish roots, I’ve combined a Ukrainian Babka recipe (sweet bread) with my family’s Polish Baba recipe (saffron bread) and created a saffron sweet bread that honours both, but is much easier and quicker to make. This no-knead Babka is a cross between a bread and a cake and is absolutely delicious! I hope you love it as much as I do!
Easter Babka (sweet bread) with Saffron
RECIPE MAKES 1 SWEET BREAD
• 1½ cups golden raisins
• ½ cup of brandy (to cover and soak raisins) OR sub orange juice if desired
• ¼ cup warm water (110 F / 44 C)
• 1 teaspoon of honey (sub sugar)
• 1 packet of traditional dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
• 1 cup scalded whole milk, cooled slightly
• 1 teaspoon of saffron threads OR 3 teaspoons of Calendula
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
• 2 tablespoons of orange zest
• ¾ cup unsalted butter (plus extra to prepare bundt pan)
• 1 cup white sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork or whisk
• Spoon measure and level 4 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose unbleached white flour (4 ¼ cup total) then sift and set aside (¼ cup will be for flouring raisins)
• 1 Bundt pan or an angel food cake pan
• Butter and plain fine breadcrumbs OR flour to coat and prepare the pan
• 1 cup of confectioner sugar, sifted
• 1 tablespoon of milk or cream
• 1-2 tablespoons of reserved raisin soaking liquid
1. Put raisins in a small bowl and cover with spirits OR orange juice and soak while preparing the remaining ingredients
2. Butter bundt pan and lightly coat with crumbs OR flour and set aside
3. Mix warm water and honey together until dissolved and stir in the yeast. Set aside to proof (get foamy)
4. Scald milk, remove from heat and add in saffron OR calendula and orange zest. Step aside to steep and cool. Once milk/saffron mixture has cooled to just above body temperature, add vanilla and yeast mixture. (If it’s too hot you’ll kill the yeast)
5. Cream together butter, sugar, and salt. Once creamed, add the eggs one at a time. Cream together until blended.
6. Now add the prepared, cooled milk mixture to the creamed butter mixture, and blend to incorporate.
7. Drain raisins and squeeze out excess liquid (reserve liquid for glaze) Toss raisins in ¼ cup of flour and set aside
8. Add one-half of the flour (2 cups) into the creamed butter/milk mixture and use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix/fold in.
9, Fold in the floured raisins
10. Add in the remaining 2 cups of flour and fold/mix in until the flour is well-incorporated and the batter is thick and sticky
11. Spoon the batter into prepared pan, cover with a clean damp towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free area. Let rise until almost to the top of the pan
• Pre-heat oven to 350 F while batter is rising
• Bake for 40- 45 minutes or until internal temperature is 190 degrees
• Remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Set on a wire rack to finish cooling
• In a medium bowl blend together confectioner sugar and milk. Add the reserved raisin liquid a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add more milk and/or sugar if necessary to reach spooning consistency.
• Spoon over cooled (just above room temperature) Babka and decorate if desired. Set aside for the glaze to dry. Enjoy fresh with or without softened butter
• If preferred, omit glaze, cool Babka completely, and dust with powdered sugar
• Lovely served with a pot of English Breakfast or Darjeeling
• Leftover Babka (if you have any!) is lovely toasted and buttered. Babka also makes delicious french toast or bread pudding!
• Babka can be frozen (well-wrapped) for up to 3 months
As with all edible flowers or herbs, be sure you are aware of any allergies before consuming