This is a particularly light and flavorful version of this Eastern European standard. Though some versions of babka are rolled up with a filling before being placed in the pan, this one simply mixes the ingredients together and is none the worse for it.

Makes one 10-inch tube cake, about 20 servings


1 1/4 cups milk 4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)


 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 large egg yolks

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

1 cup dark raisins

1 cup whole blanched almonds, cut into quarters

One 12-cup tube or Bundt pan, buttered

  1. For the sponge, warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until it is just lukewarm, about 110 degrees. Pour the milk into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Stir in the flour and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the sponge rise until it is doubled, about 30 minutes.
  2. After the sponge has risen, start the dough. Beat the butter, sugar, and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle on medium speed until soft and light, about 2 or 3 minutes. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla.
  3. Beat in six of the egg yolks, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.
  4. Beat in a third of the flour, followed by two more egg yolks. Stop and scrape bowl and beater. Beat in another third of the flour and two more of the egg yolks. Stop and scrape. Finally beat in the remaining flour and remaining egg yolks.
  5. Stop the mixer and scrape the sponge into the mixer bowl. Beat on lowest speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for ten minutes.
  6. Beat the dough on medium speed for two minutes, or until it is smooth and somewhat elastic. The dough will be very soft.
  7. Beat in the raisins and almonds until they are evenly distributed.
  8. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and cover the pan with a towel or a piece of buttered plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it fills the pan, about 1 hour.
  9. About 15 minutes before the dough has completely risen, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  10. Bake the babka for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until it is well risen and deep golden. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick between the edge of the pan and the central tube. It should emerge dry.
  11. Cool the babka in the pan on a rack for ten minutes, then invert it to the rack and remove the pan. Cool the babka completely.

Serving: Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the babka into slices. Leftover babka makes very good French toast or bread pudding.

Storage: Keep the babka wrapped in plastic wrap. Or wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost the babka and bring it to room temperature before serving.