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Ukrainian Sourdough Babka with Variations





To Renew Starter

2 cups starter (use grated Raw Potato Starter)
1-1/2 cup cold water
1-1/2 cup white flour


1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 pkg. dry yeast (1 Tbs.)
1 cup sugar
2 cups starter
13 egg yolks, well beaten
3 cups white flour
4 tbsp. soft butter
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. almond extract
4 cups white flour
1/2 cup fine rusk crumbs or
fine bread crumbs


Empty refrigerated starter (grated Raw Potato Starter) from the glass jar into large mixing bowl (do not use metal or plastic). Add 1 1/2 cups cold water and 1 1/2 cups white flour. Beat thoroughly. Cover bowl tightly (clinging transparent wrap is good) and set in warm place (about 80 F.) overnight. Wash and scald starter jar and lid. Allow to air out overnight. (Go to search to get recipe for Grated Raw Potato Starter)

In the morning stir the starter thoroughly. Pour off 2 cups and set aside. Pour remaining 2 cups into glass jar, cover and return to refrigerator.

FOR THE BABKA: Mix 1/2 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1 package dry yeast. Set in warm place until foaming nicely.

Pour the 2 cups reserved starter into mixing bowl. Add 1 cup sugar, 13 well beaten egg yolks and 3 cups white flour. Beat well. Add the dry yeast mixture as soon as ready and beat again. Add 4 Tablespoons soft butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons almond extract and 3 cups white flour. Mix well until dough clears the bowl. Spread the remaining 1 cup white flour on pastry board. Turn out dough. Knead well, using a little more flour if necessary to make a satin smooth but not too stiff dough. Return to bowl, butter top of dough, cover and let rise in warm place until dent remains when dough is pushed with finger. Turn out and knead well again. The dough will be very bubbly and squeaky as it is worked. Divide and shape as desired.

This recipe will make 3 Babkas in 8 inch ring pans. The heavier the pans the more beautiful the crust will be.

Butter pans generously and dust with crumbs. Shape dough into even roll as long as circumference of pan. Lay around the center and push ends together. Butter top of dough and dust with crumbs.

Set in warm place, cover and let rise until dent remains in dough when pushed.

Bake in oven preheated to 325 F. degrees for 1 hour if using heavy pans and 45 minutes for light weight pans.

I prefer to make 1 large Babka, using a 3 cup portion of dough, in a heavy cast aluminum 9 inch bundt pan.


OVEN TOASTIES: When Babka dough has rested for about 20 minutes after kneading so that it will roll out easily, pat out a 1 cup portion on a sheet of waxed paper which has been dusted with flour. Then roll evenly to fit a 10 x 15 inch cookie sheet. Have pan very lightly buttered if not using Teflon coated one. Roll dough over into pan, gently peel of paper and press into corners and along edges to completely cover surface. Spread with 1 cup very thick apple butter (preferably the rosy red homemade kind).

Roll out a second 1 cup portion of dough in the same manner on waxed paper and place on top of filling as evenly as possible. Brush top lightly with butter and then cut with sharp knife or pastry cutter into 18 sections or 12 larger ones. Cut a cross in center of each section. Let stand in warm place until slightly risen. Cut through between sections again to be sure all are separated. Bake in oven preheated to 325 F. for about 45 minutes until a beautiful golden brown and dry. Remove from pan and cool before storing. They freeze perfectly and should be placed in oven or under broiler to toast lightly before serving.

DESSERT ROLLS: Use a 1 1/2 cup portion of Babka dough to make 12 muffin shaped rolls in small tins. Allow to rise very light. Bake in oven preheated to 325 F. for about 25 minutes. These can be treated as individual Babas au Rhum: pour hot fruit and rum syrup over them. Allow to stand until all liquid has been soaked up. This will take several hours and it is even better to let them stand overnight. Serve with whipped cream or other topping. For another way to serve, remove centers with sharp knife. Fill with marshmallow crème, replace top crusts, place in dessert dishes and spoon over them any bright tart fruit sauce.

SWEET TOPPER ROLLS: You will need 1 1/2 cups Babka dough.

Make crumbs out of 4 cinnamon coated graham crackers, and mix with 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee.

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (divided into 12) to fill center of rolls and 3 teaspoons cream or canned milk (divided into 12) to drip on top of rolls.

Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Shape into balls, roll in melted butter then in the mixture of graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and instant coffee. Place in well greased muffin tins. Make a depression well down in center of each roll and fill with the chopped nuts topped with remaining crumb mixture. Let rise until very light.

Press filling down lightly and drip 1/4 teaspoon cream or canned milk over it. Bake in oven preheated to 325 f. for about 25 minutes. The filling will rise above the top of the roll and when nicely browned is as crunchy and rich as butter brickle candy.

TRIPLE TREAT BRAID: You will need 2 cups Babka dough. Roll dough into rectangle the length of the cookie sheet and about 9 inches wide. Cut into 3 strips lengthwise.

FOR THE FIRST STRIP: Mix 2 Tablespoons honey, 2 Tablespoons soft butter, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 3 Tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs together and spread on center of first strip.

FOR THE SECOND STRIP: Cut 12 large soft dates in half lengthwise and lay on center of second strip. Sprinkle over them 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts and 1 teaspoon powdered orange concentrate. (See Note)

FOR THE THIRD STRIP: Mix 1/3 cup strawberry preserves and 1/3 cup Grape Nuts cereal together. Spread on center of third strip.

Moisten edges of each strip and seal tightly.

Lay side by side on sheet. Start in middle and braid to each end. Brush top with butter. Let stand until very light. Bake in oven preheated to 325 F. about 45 minutes until very well done. Brush top of braid with cream or canned milk about 5 minutes before the end of the baking period. This bread is every bit as delicious and attractive as the many flavored strudel which used to be among our Christmas goodies every year and which takes so many hours to make.

NOTE: Powdered orange concentrate is Orange flavored instant breakfast drink, such as “Tang,” a General Foods product.

Sourdough Breads and Coffee Cakes

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