Poland: Lemon Babka

Poland: Lemon Babka

Are your ready for a trip to Poland? We’re about to make Babka cytrynowa, a scruptuous Polish cake, whose name “babka” (grandma) recalls the wide skirts once worn by grandmas, and wholesome traditional treats. This cake also has ties with Italy. How? We’ll tell you all about it in a minute. Right now, go check the cupboard, and make sure you have the ingredients on hand:

  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 1 + 1/2 cups of granulated sugar (around 200 g)
  • 3 eggs 2 + 1/2 cups wheat flour (375 g)
  • 200 g plain greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 30 g walnuts – chopped 2
  • teaspoons Limmi lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Rind of 2 oranges

For the lemon glaze

  • 400 g powdered sugar
  • 80 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons Limmi lemon juice

Preparation

Beat the butter with the sugar till soft and foamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Transfer the butter mixture to a larger bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the yogurt and Limmi lemon juice. In another bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda and yeast. Now add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 1/3 at a time, and stir after each addition (you can also use a mixer on low speed).

Lastly, stir in the walnuts. Evenly coat the inside of a Bundt cake pan (tall and round, with a hole in the middle) with butter, and then flour. Bang it on the counter a couple of times, and shake out any excess flour. Pour the cake batter in the pan and bake it in the oven preheated at 180° C for about 50 minutes.

While it bakes, make the lemon glaze. Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl, then add warm water a little at a time, and 10 drops of LIMMI lemon juice, mixing vigorously.

The consistency of the glaze should be close to that of syrup (to thin it out, just add a little bit of water, and to thicken it add a bit of powdered sugar). Once the cake has cooled for a little while, take it out of the pan, transfer it to a dish, pour this delicious lemon glaze over it and… Smacznego!

The ties between Poland and Italy

Yes, we know! You’re still waiting to hear what Italy has to do with it right? Ok then, get comfortable.

It is said that Stanislao Leszczynski, the King of Poland and brother-in-law of Louis XV of Burbon, one day in a fit of rage threw a piece of babka at a bottle of Tokaj, the traditional Polish and Hungarian liqueur, and…guess what? He liked it so much that it became a new dessert, the type of treat Italians use to describe someone of sweet and exquisite character.

The Polish term babka certainly sounds like a famous Neapolitan treat, right? Yes indeed, we are talking about the Babà!
The newly created babka version reached the court of Louis XV of France thanks to royal pastry chef Nicola Stohrere, and thereafter started being made at the Court of Naples in Italy by “monzù” (the historical appellative for professional pastry chefs serving the nobility of Campania and Sicily, deriving from the French term monsieur) Angeletti, where it became softer, gained ingredients like raisins and saffron, and assumed the typical mushroom shape we all know and love to this day.