The Folklore Food Blog: Where’s The Babka? A Russian Folktale

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Where’s The Babka?
Once upon a time, there were three old women who wanted a Babka cake to eat. The first one brought an egg and flour, the second one yeast and fruit, and the third one grease and rum.
When the thick batter was done they left it to rise and shared a drink. And as everyone knows youthful drinking is never a problem, but as one ages the effects of drink aren’t always as planned and the three women fell asleep.
When the first woman woke, she saw the mixing bowl tipped over and empty. She woke the second woman. “You got drunk and ate the dough, how could you?”
“Me? It wasn’t me. It had to have been her, look how fat she is.” She replied and got a knife. “I’ll wake the thief.”
“What are you doing?” the third woman said.
The second woman dangled the knife above her eye. “Where is the cake?”
“How should I know I was sleeping.”
Just then the room went dark and the door burst open by a strong wind. The babka dough stood in the doorway.
“Oi, that’s some strong yeast you brought,” the first woman said.
Cowering behind the first the third said, “I think we let it rise a little too long.
The babka dough burst into the room and threw a bucket of water on the cooking fire, it went out with a hiss and puff of smoke and ash. “You’ll not eat me,” said the babka dough, and ran out the door.
“Someone forgot the blessing again, the cake is possessed,” the third woman said.
The second woman coughed. “You poured drinks, and blame me?”
“Like it thinks we are going to chase after it,” the first woman laughed.
The third woman poured. “Drink! It’s moose mating season I’ll not go into the woods.”
As it happened there was a young man passing by and who came into the house concerned by all the commotion. “I saw your cake run away.”
The first woman held her cup behind her back and spoke, “Oh, please, help us we are old and frail.”
“We are sure to starve to death if we do not eat. That was the last of our food,” the second added.
“I’ll catch it for you,” the young man said and ran off in the direction of the babka.
“Such a nice boy.” The third woman poured another round. “What do we do if he catches it?”
The first toasted. “Give him the babka cake, of course, what else?”

Babka
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3 large eggs, at room temperature
heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter
2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup currants or raisins
1/4 cup candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel; or mixed dried fruit, chopped

Rum Syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons rum

Icing
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp. water

Place everything except the fruit in a mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed until it become a smooth batter. Then beat it on high for 2 more minutes. Watch the splatter.

Now beat it gently, and add the fruit. Rawr.

Cover the mixing bowl, and let the batter rest and rise for 60 minutes depending; it won’t appear to do too much so don’t be disappointed.
Scoop the batter into a greased 10-cup Bundt pan. Cover the pan, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes, it’s tired after all the beatings you have given it. Preheat the oven to 350°F before you kick it in to bake.
Bake the babka for 35 to 40 minutes, this is the tricky part, either you use a thermometer where it reaches show 190 degrees in the center signaling its done, or you can go by the intuition of your anterior brain.
While the babka is baking, check the time, if it’s not before noon, go for it. You may need a nap. Prepare the rum syrup. Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil, boil, swirling the liquid in the pan while you sip your glass, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Remove the babka from the oven. Poke it all over gently with a toothpick or fork, exciting isn’t it, and slowly pour the syrup over the babka’s surface.
When the syrup is fully absorbed (about 20 minutes or so), carefully loosen the babka’s edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.
If you forget to use the icing save the sugar for the kids pancakes, if not: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the completely cool babka.

If you enjoyed this story, check out my Folklore Cookbook series Tales from the Cook on Amazon. Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited and Leave a Review.

 

 

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