No, that's not a line from Seinfeld. Fans of the show will recall the episode in which he mugged an old lady because she got the last chocolate Babka at the bakery. When I was little, I asked my dad if we could have a chocolate Babka. He laughed and told me there was no such thing. Seinfeld fans know differently! I can only guess that clever American bakers incorporated chocolate into the bread.
I have baked a typical western Ukrainian Babka, which is traditional at Easter. I understand Babka means "grandmother." It's baked in a pot which is taller than it is wide. I read somewhere that it's supposed to be the shape of a woman's skirt. I'm a little afraid to imagine what their skirts looked like!
Every year, we had a Babka (never chocolate much to my dismay) at Easter. It was always amazing to look at. However, while my mom was a great cook and a fantastic baker, her Babka was always, er, a little on the dry side. So when I set out to bake a Babka, the first thing I dismissed was my mom's recipe. (Don't tell her if you see her, okay?)
I went straight to the cookbook called A BOOK OF FAVORITE RECIPES Compiled by THE SISTERHOOD of St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Johnson City, New York. Copyrighted in 1968, I assume these recipes were by women who had eaten and cooked Ukrainian food all their lives. My mother's dry Babka in mind, I selected BABKA WITH PUMPKIN by Pani Lawryk. She says, "This is a very old recipe and worth preserving. Mashed pumpkin imparts a mellow yellow color to Babka and keeps it fresh and soft for days." I hope so!
Now, while some of you are bakers who love to tackle big projects, I do realize that most of you won't be tackling this. So just enjoy the fact that I slaved over it and that at least one very old recipe will go on the net and be preserved for generations to come.
If you like to bake bread, this is no big deal. The most difficult part is finding the correct pot in which to bake the bread. Ukrainian women are particularly fond of using coffee cans. Soup cans and the like will work as well, but won't be quite as large as the one you see here.
|Oops. Needed a larger cup!|
|It will be very thin.|
|It was actually bubbling!|
|Again, very thin.|
|That's a lot of dough!|
|The parchment paper reminds me of a chef's hat!|