Lemon Babka Recipe
10 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 whole large eggs
1 cup half and half (about 110 degrees)
2 1/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Thoroughly combine the flours and yeast in a medium sized mixing bowl, and then set aside.
To mix the dough in a heavy-duty mixer, place the sugar, salt, butter, lemon and vanilla extracts, and grated zest in the mixer bowl, attach the paddle and mix on low speed for 1 minute to blend the ingredients. Add the eggs, one by one, until they are absorbed, then add the half and half and mix briefly.
Now slowly add all of the flour until the dough forms a mass around the paddle. Turn the machine off, remove the paddle and replace with the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough is excessively soft and sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour, one at a time, and knead a little longer.
Place the dough into a large bowl, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 4 hours. (This chilling time is imperative so that the butter doesn't seep out of the dough.)
After a couple of hours or overnight, turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and gently punch it down. Using floured hands, roll the dough into a fat cigar shape about 12 to 14 inches long. Now form the dough into a small tire, and pinch together the open ends. Place the dough into a non-stick bundt pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise slowly in a warm place until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350° F., and when the babka is risen, place into the hot oven and cook for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully remove the babka to a cooling rack. When completely cool, heavily dust with confectioners' sugar.
Yield: One cake, 14 servings
From "The New Polish Cuisine," by Michael J. Baruch.
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