Recipe: Polish Easter Babka

updated Jan 21, 2020
Polish Easter Babka

Easter Baba, or babka, babka wielkanocna, has graced the table for Easter for centuries. Here's how to make it.

Serves8 to 12

Makes1 (10-cup) bundt cake

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Easter Baba (or babka, or babka wielkanocna) has graced Easter tables for Polish families for centuries — along with mazurek cookies, painted eggs, and cheese desserts.

The backstory is this: The dessert was originally said to be made in pans that resembled a tall Bundt pan, but without the hole in the center. One medieval recipe claims that their special version — which calls for 24 eggs and 1 tablespoon of freshly pounded vanilla beans that are beaten for more than an hour (!) — “is a cake of the highest order.”

Our version below, thankfully, isn’t quite that challenging. It mirrors more traditional versions in that it showcases a nice brandy flavor and plenty of plumped-up fruit, and boasts a tender crumb. Given all of that, it’s not difficult to see how this beloved old-world cake is often dubbed as the pride of the Easter table.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When making this baba recipe, feel free to add about 1/3 cup of finely diced candied orange peel. There are versions with cinnamon, poppy seeds, and even a cocoa swirl to be found. I find that a European-esque mixture of golden raisins, raisins, and currants, with toasted almonds, is the most universally enjoyed — and that using a classic American-style Bundt pan with the tube in the center makes for the most even and consistent bakes.

Polish Easter Babka

Easter Baba, or babka, babka wielkanocna, has graced the table for Easter for centuries. Here's how to make it.

Makes1 (10-cup) bundt cake

Serves8 to 12

Nutritional Info


For the babka:

  • 6 tablespoons

    (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream

  • Finely grated zest from 2 medium lemons (2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    pure vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup

    bread flour

  • 1/2 cup

    lukewarm water

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package

    active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

  • 1 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon


  • 1 large

    egg, at room temperature

  • 2 large

    egg yolks, at room temperature

  • 1 1/4 cups

    raisins, sultanas, or currants

  • 1/4 cup

    toasted, slivered almonds or chopped walnuts (optional)

  • Cooking spray

For the icing:

  • 1 1/4 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)


Make the babka:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the cream, lemon zest, and vanilla and stir to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature while you start the dough.

  2. Place the bread flour, water, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. It will be pasty but should not be dry, and will look like very thick mayonnaise.

  3. Let the mixture stand in the bowl until many bubbles form, it smells distinctly like yeast, and is looser in texture (similar to a thick pancake batter), 18 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, place the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Add the eggs and egg yolks to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until fully combined, about 1 minute.

  5. Switch the paddle attachment to the dough hook. Add 1/2 of the flour and sugar mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir the cream mixture, add to the flour and yeast mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.

  6. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and mix for 10 minutes more. The finished dough should be a smooth, tacky, very soft dough that sticks to the bottom of the bowl and a bit on the sides and is visibly stretchy when the dough hook is lifted.

  7. Add the raisins and nuts if using and mix on low speed into incorporated, about 2 minutes.

  8. Generously coat a 10-cup bundt pan with cooking spray and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the pan in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap or a large kitchen towel. Set aside to rise in a warm but not hot (between 70°F and 80°F) place until doubled in bulk, 1 3/4 to 2 hours. (For a more delicate dough, instead of the counter rise, cover the babka dough and do a slow, long rise in the refrigerator overnight. Let come back to room temperature before baking.) 20 minutes before the dough is ready, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.

  9. Uncover and bake until the babka is a deep golden-brown and a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 45 minutes.

  10. Transfer the bundt pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. It will shrink down a bit. Invert a cooling rack over the bundt pan and flip the pan and rack together in one motion to remove the babka from the pan. (If the babka does not come out immediately, use a thin knife or offset spatula to nudge the cake away from the sides and center column before trying again.) Set aside to cool completely. It will firm some as it cools.

Make the icing:

  1. Place the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until completely smooth but thick and pourable. Add water or lemon juice a teaspoon at a time if needed to create the desired consistency. Drizzle the icing decoratively over the top of the babka, nudging and letting it drip down the sides. Let sit for the icing to harden before serving, about 15 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The bread is at its best the day it is made, but will keep for 2 days loosely covered at room temperature.

Be the first to rate and review this recipe