Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Frugal Ima Super-Frugal Recipe: Babka (means 'I Love You')

FIFrugal Recipe copyYou know how all of us grew up learning "Food equals Love?"  And it totally messed us up in terms of associating eating with comfort, and then comfort with eating so much we got fat, and then we had low self esteem, but we still have to eat to stay alive, and so now we're totally emotional and dieting wrecks?

No?  Just me again?

Sure, comfort eating has totally messed us up, but it's called "comfort eating" for a reason. Let's take comfort in it.  (You know, every once in awhile.)

On my top 5 Comfort Foods list is "babka."  In capital letters.  The name "babka" comes from the Polish word for "grandmother," so that just adds a guilt-heavy "I baked for you and now you're not eating?" layer to all the comfort-food-eating anguish meshugas bliss.

I know you're scoffing at me, but in my defense, it could be worse.  I found this recipe in my bread machine cookbook.  The best thing about it (or the worst thing about it, depending who you ask,) is that it's not nearly as rich and fatty as Deb's gorgeous replication of the Jewish deli classic.  As far as authenticity goes, I really can't tell you.  Even though my own grandmother is super-Polish, she's not really famous for her Polish cooking.  Go figure.

Packaged babka at the grocery store is shipped from halfway across the country will cost you a small fortune, which makes this a super-frugal recipe.

Here's what you'll need:
1 2/3 c water
3 tbsp butter, cut into pieces (or margarine, if your bread machine is pareve like mine.)
4 c flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast

1/4 c (half a stick) butter
1 c brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted butter, for brushing

(or for chocolate filling)
1 1/3 c white sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tsp cinnamon
mini chocolate chips

Mix together the ingredients for the dough and knead until smooth.  Allow a first rise.  Or, throw everything in your bread machine on the "dough" cycle and take a nap till it beeps. (I know, I'm hilarious.)

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 12 by 18 inches.

Mix together filling ingredients, brush dough with 2 tbsp melted butter, and spread filling evenly over the dough, making sure it reaches to the edges.

Starting at a shorter end, roll it up as tightly as you can.
(hello, baby!)

Now, here's where I know it starts to get inauthentic.  You're supposed to slice the whole log in half, drop it seam-side down in some greased loaf pans, let it do its second rise, and bake it that way. But I never could figure out how long and what temp to put it in for so that the outside wouldn't be hard and the inside underdone.  My family wasn't a fan of goopy half-baked dough for Shabbat breakfast (I know, ridiculous.) So I started slicing it cinnamon-roll style.

So, if you're a loser like me, slice it up and place it in two well-greased round baking pans.  Leave a little space between the rolls, because they're going to need to rise again.

I stuck mine in the refrigerator so all I had to do on Shabbat morning was throw them in a preheated oven.  Here they are after a second cold rise:

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Let them cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes or all your cinnamon will ooze out, and then you'll probably weep after all the effort you went to just to make these, and now you've got no cinnamon!
(I'm totally drooling on my keyboard right now.)

Slather it with frosting.  I had some buttercream lying around from a sugar cookie effort, but these would be better with cream cheese frosting or even straight confectioner's sugar and water glaze.

I had a bite of some babka without the frosting, because my gall bladder is screaming in protest at buttercream these days.  We're star-crossed lovers.

If you're in need of some more babka-related deliciousness, here's a whole post about my boys eating babka circa about a year ago.

Who else is making some this weekend?


  1. Plus it's a Seinfeld reference! You know, when they went to the bakery for the chocolate babka, but they only had cinnamon babka left? Same episode as the black-and-white cookie.

    I totally understand the unhealthful "when food is love" relationship. The other day I found a recipe for an apple pie with a crust made with brown sugar-cinnamon Pop-Tarts. To me, that is the ultimate "when food is love."

  2. wow, wowie, your breads always look so amazing. must learn to make these sometime soon!

  3. Um, ME! I am absolutely making babka this weekend...if I last that long. Did you have to put so many pictures? :)

  4. Thanks for your comments, ladies!

    @Shannon. I'm going to need that recipe. You know, for that party I'm imagining where I celebrate losing the baby weight. Someday. That is all.

    @Dmarie Thanks. :)

    @inoursmallgarden How did it turn out? We made chocolate this week and it was incredible.

  5. Okay, will you pretty please link this up to my dessert RE post? (Only maybe not, b/c then all my readers are going to be all... we are never reading another food post by this ridiculous fraud {being me} again... Frugal Ima is where it is AT. Those pictures. That recipe. You are AMAZING!)


Thanks for your comments! They make my day.

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