Russian Easter Bread Recipe and Polish Babka Recipe

Easter Babka

Babka or Russian Easter Bread can be glazed and decorated with candy or candied fruit.
Babka or Russian Easter Bread can be glazed and decorated with candy or candied fruit. | Source

Three Generations Help Make a Traditional Easter Babka

Making Easter Babka with kids teaches them family traditions.
Making Easter Babka with kids teaches them family traditions. | Source

Traditional Polish Babka and Russian Easter Bread

One of the most delightful smells that can come from a kitchen is that of bread baking. It seems that people of every heritage have their favorite breads, those that remind them of Grandmother's and Mother's kitchen, of family and family celebrations. In our house, Babka or Russian Easter Bread were part of the holiday tradition at both Easter and Christmas.

Babka is a sweet yeast bread that is traditionally eaten at Easter time in Poland, Russia and other Eastern European countries. Our family's traditional babka had raisins in it. My mother liked to use golden raisins, though the dark raisins are fine, too. Usually, babka is glazed with a thin icing made with powdered sugar and lemon juice. This will harden into a sugary icing that gives the bread an extra added sweetness.

Russian Easter Bread is very similar to babka, and in fact, is referred to as "babka" in our household. The main difference between the two sweet breads is that my Russian Easter Bread recipe calls for glaceed fruit as well as raisins. I also add a dash of cardamom which is sometimes hard to find in grocery stores, but seems to add a subtle unique flavor.

Yeast dough must rise before baking

Form dough into a ball and set in a greased casserole dish to rise.
Form dough into a ball and set in a greased casserole dish to rise. | Source

Baking Russian Easter Bread is a Holiday Tradition

Baking Russian Easter Bread for the holidays.
Baking Russian Easter Bread for the holidays. | Source

Russian Easter Bread Recipe

Get necessary supplies together. You will need: one small bowl, one large bowl, measuring spoons, measuring cup, clean countertop or large board where you can turn out dough to knead it, two bread pans or two round casseroles.

Please read instructions before beginning to mix ingredients together.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110°F)
  • 2 packages of dry yeast

    Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let stand while you mix the other ingredients in the large bowl.
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup glaceed fruit
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 6 cups flour (approximately)

Instructions: In the large bowl mix the very hot milk, sugar, butter, cardamom, salt and lemon rind. When this the butter is melted and this mixture is lukewarm, add the vanilla, eggs, fruit and raisins. Stir in the dissolved yeast mixture.

The amount of flour is really an estimate as it can vary depending on the flour. When mixing the flour into the wet mixture, start with about 4 cups of flour and stir it in. Place about a cup of flour on your counter or kneading board and spread it around to about a 10" circle. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and begin kneading with your hands. Add more flour as needed until the ball of dough sticks together in a smooth satiny ball. You may have to add more than the 6 cups recommended so that it isn't sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes, then place in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a light cloth and set in a warm place to rise. (Tip: I like to set my dough in my oven to rise if I'm not using it for anything else. It's a nice draft-free, out-of-the-way place.

Since this is rather a fine textured bread and heavier than traditional babka, it may take longer to rise. Allow about 2 hours for the dough to double.

Punch down and divide in half. Place each half into a round 1 1/2 quart casserole or loaf bread pan that has been greased well. Cover with a lightweight cloth and let rise until double again.

Bake and Glaze

Bake bread at 350°F for about 35 minutes. At this point use a pasty brush to quickly brush the top of the bread with milk. Do not remove it from the oven, just pull the rack out a bit. Bake for 5-10 more minutes. Top should be browned and babka should be coming slightly away from sides of the pan.

Remove from oven and let cool in pans for a few minutes before turning out on racks. While still warm drizzle with glaze made from 3/4 cup confectioner's suger mixed with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and decorate with a few candied cherries cut in half.


Polish Babka Recipe

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 pkg. active dry yeast

Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let stand while you mix the other ingredients in the large bowl.

  • 3/4 cup scalded milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons grated orange or lemon peel (fresh)
  • 6 cups unsifted flour

Follow instructions for mixing, kneading and rising bread as for the Russian Easter Bread.  This will make two nice round loaves which you can bake in a cake pan or a spring form pan.  Bake at 350°F for about 45-50 minutes. 

Babka may be glazed with a lemon glaze made from 1 cup of confectioner's sugar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  Spread on cooled babka and decorate with candied fruit.

Savor the Moment

Now the trick is to keep the bread from being eaten immediately! The aroma alone draws the family into the kitchen hoping for a taste or the fresh, warm bread. Because it is so tantalizing, I always make two batches so that the family can have some on the day it's baked and some on Easter Sunday. Although it is certainly very tasty plain, we always serve this bread with unsalted butter.


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The Smell of Baking Bread!

In a previous hub (Live in the Moment ~ Enjoy Life More), I encouraged readers to enjoy those special moments of the present. On the Saturday afternoon before Easter Sunday, with the baking done, the spring cleaning finished and the fresh flowers blooming on the table, make a fresh pot of coffee and take it into the living room with a slice of warm babka. As the scent of newly baked bread fills your home, savor the the smells and flavors of that moment.

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Copyright ©2011 Stephanie Henkel

Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

Crocus, A Sign of Spring. Water color painting by Stephanie Henkel.
Crocus, A Sign of Spring. Watercolor painting by Stephanie Henkel. | Source

More by this Author


Comments 28 comments

Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

Delightful recipe ! I must try this out for the coming Easter day celebration.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Ingenira, I hope you will enjoy these recipes as much as my family and I do. Babka has been an Easter tradition for generations in my family.


nikipa profile image

nikipa 4 years ago from Eastern Europe

That's an delicious sharing!

Living in an Eastern European country I used to bake a lot in general and for Easter in special. Reading your hub made me really miss that...


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Nikipa - I don't bake as much as I used to, but on holidays I love to bake the traditional Babka and other recipes that I learned from my mother and grandmother. I hope you find time to make some of the recipes you miss - making and eating traditional foods is always enjoyable! Thanks for visiting and commenting!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I am definitely going to give this a go when I buy some yeast. I will b back in touch to let you know how I got on! Voted up, etc,etc.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Jools,

I'd love to hear how your Babka turns out...good luck with it!


Denaliam 4 years ago

Stephanie, Can I bake the Polish babka in a bundt pan at all?


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Denaliam - I've never baked the Babka in a bundt pan, but I don't see why you couldn't do that. It would make a very attractive looking bread, I think. Good luck with it!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

This looks delightful! The amazing thing is for bread it doesn't sound that difficult....you've provided lists and directions that are easy to follow. I must add, your painting is absolutely gorgeous!! What a talented lady you are Stephanie.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Tillsontitan - This bread really isn't that difficult if you follow the directions, and the wonderful smells and taste is well worth the effort. Thanks so much for your comments on my article and my painting!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I never heard of this bread but I'd like to try. There is nothing like the smell of bread baking in the oven.

I loved your painting, too.

Voted this UP, etc.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Mary615 - This is a wonderful traditional bread, and it does make the house smell terrific. I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try. Thanks for your comments and for the votes!


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA

Happy Spring! I will have to try this, it looks great. I just love to say "Babka." I think TV show "Seinfeld" had an episode about purchasing Babka at the bakery.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Tracy Lynn Conway - I think I remember that Seinfeld episode! :) Though wasn't it a chocolate Babka? Something I've never heard of, but I did love Seinfeld! Thanks for stopping in. Hope you get a chance to try my babka recipe!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I can almost smell it. Will have to try your recipe soon. Happy Easter!

voting up, sharing and pinning.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

What a wonderful tradition - it looks so delicious! I must try this one!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

This looks awesome! I so envy you bread makers - and you make it look so easy! Beautiful!


Cathy Fidelibus profile image

Cathy Fidelibus 3 years ago from NJ

This looks great, my son wants to bake bread this Easter and this looks like the perfect recipe.

Thanks!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Just Ask Susan - LOL, there's nothing like the smell of babka baking! It's time for me to start making it for Easter morning, too! Thanks for coming by...Happy Easter to you, too!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Marcy Goodfleisch - Baking babka at Easter time is a special tradition in our family...it wouldn't seem like Easter without it! Enjoy it! Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

RealHousewife - The Russian Easter bread is my very favorite sweet bread...it is awesome, even if I do say so myself! :) Thanks for stopping in to comment!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Cathy Fidelibus -Baking bread together sounds like a perfect family activity, and I know you'll enjoy eating it, too! Do give it a try!


Jesse Hackshaw 3 years ago

Simply spectacular! I can't wait for my "mom" to try these. Thanks for the delightful treat.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Jesse Hackshaw - I hope your mom enjoys the Russian Easter Bread and Polish Babka recipes. Thanks for commenting!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

this looks like a delightful bread to welcome spring as well as to celebrate Easter.

Thanks for the well defined directions.

I am bookmarking to add to my recipe files.

Have a lovely week

Sending Angels your way :) ps


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Pstrauble48 - Glad you like the recipes for Russian Easter Bread and Polish Babka! I'm a little late making it this year, but plan on having a baking day soon! Mmmm...I can smell it baking already! :)


Amy Rowe profile image

Amy Rowe 3 years ago

I can almost smell the bread now! Making me hungry!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Amy Rowe - Me too, Amy! Let's get baking! :)

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