Babka

Babka means cake, and it comes in many types. For religious festivals it is often made with a yeasted enriched dough. I met up with chef Jarek Nowakowski who, after working in Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, returned to Poland and set up a very contemporary patisserie called Odette where he produces exceptional desserts from premium ingredients. A passionate baker, he is proud of his new venture. He shared with me his babka recipe, which is based on a non-yeasted sponge cake. New to me is the addition of glucose in the mixture, which helps to keep the cake moist.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: One 8-inch cake
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Ingredients

Cake:

250 grams (8.8 ounces) caster sugar (superfine)

90 grams (3.2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, plus for greasing the pan

5 medium eggs

55 grams (1.9 ounces) glucose or runny honey

215 grams (7.6 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus for dusting the pan

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

150 milliliters (1/2 cup) double cream

150 grams (5.3 ounces) toasted desiccated coconut (toasted coconut flakes)

Zest of 2 limes

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons jam (your favorite flavor)

Icing:

200 grams (7 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Lemon zest, for garnish

Dried rose petals, for garnish

Directions

  1. For the cake: Heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius/gas 4 (320 degrees F). Grease a 22-by-22-centimeter (8-by-8-inch) baking pan with butter and dust with flour. Line with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the glucose and mix well. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and then fold into the batter to incorporate. Add the double cream and coconut; mix well. Stir in the lime zest and lemon zest.
  3. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Dot with the jam in evenly-spaced spoonfuls. Cover with the remaining batter and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is golden and well-risen, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. For the icing: Mix together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice to form a smooth paste.
  5. Remove the cake from the pan and place on a serving dish. Brush the top with the icing, sprinkle with lemon zest and scatter with rose petals.

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