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Babka (cake)

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Babka, or Bobka, also known as baba, is a sweet yeast cake.

East European version

Babka is a spongy yeast cake that is traditionally baked for Easter Sunday in Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia. Darra Goldstein, professor of Russian at Williams College says "babka comes from baba, a very tall, delicate yet rich yeast-risen cake eaten in Western Russia and Eastern Poland."[1] Traditional babka has some type of fruit filling, especially raisins, and is glazed with a fruit-flavored icing, sometimes with rum added. Modern babka may be chocolate or have a cheese filling.

Jewish version

Another version of babka is associated with the Eastern European Jewish tradition. This babka is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough and is typically baked in a high loaf pan. Instead of a fruit filling the dough contains cinnamon or chocolate. The babka is usually topped with streusel. A similar cake called a kokosh is also popular in Jewish bakeries. Kokosh also comes in chocolate and cinnamon varieties, but it is lower and longer than babka, is not twisted, and not topped with streusel.

Babka of this style has become popular in North American cities with large Jewish populations, including Montreal, New York, Miami, and Toronto.

There also exists a traditional Eastern European Jewish variety prepared during Passover in lieu of bread. Generally, this sort is not sweet and is prepared using crushed matzos with water, egg, and salt. Some Polish Jews refer to pancakes with these ingredients as bubbeleh, a name similar to babka.


The Polish and Belarusian noun babka, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian baba mean "grandmother," and as applied to the pastry probably refer to its shape, a tall cylinder, sometimes with corrugations resembling a skirt’s pleats.[2] The name of the pastry entered the English language from Polish, via French, although "babka" is also sometimes used in its original sense ("grandmother"), especially among those of Eastern European descent.[3]

See also


  1. Joan Nathan, "Inviting an Old Favorite to the Hanukkah Table", The New York Times, (December 5, 2007) page F5.
  2. Oxford Companion to Food
  3. Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd ed.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Babka (cake). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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