Easter

Babka

Classic Babka

What can I say? I am in a nostalgic mood this week. I have been working on my Easter menu and all sorts of favorite foods are being prepared. Babka will be one of them.

Babka is a different bread from most others that I make.  For starters, the recipe makes 6 loaves of bread at once. Great for gift giving in those quantities.

Babka also uses much less flour than most of my bread recipes. Only 8 cups of flour for the 6 loaves. I can use close to 8 cups of flour for 2 loaves of other breads.

The babka dough is really a batter- so sticky you have to oil up your hands to divide the dough into the bread pans.  This very tiny amount of dough rises to fill  9×5-inch bread pans. The result is a bread that is very light with a crunchy exterior and tender interior.

I can’t remember where I got this recipe. I still have the original handwritten recipe, but it isn’t handwriting I recognize. Maybe one day I will figure it out.

In the meantime, I will continue to make babka- and to share it with friends and family.

 

Babka

3 packets active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
1 c. sugar
8 c. bread flour
1 t. salt
5 large eggs
1 stick butter
2 T. oil
Grated rinds of  an orange and a lemon
2 c. warm milk
1 c. raisins
1 egg mixed with 2-t. milk

In bowl combine yeast, water, sugar, 1 c. flour, and salt. Allow to stand 10 minutes. Beat in eggs, butter, oil and grated rinds. Add remaining flour alternately with milk, beating a total of five minutes. Stir in raisins. Dust a large bowl with flour and put in dough. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 2 hours. Generously grease loaf pans. This recipe will fill 6 standard loaf pans – 9×5 – inch. Lightly oil hands and divide dough into portions, smoothing tops as you place dough in pans. Cover and allow dough to rise until more than doubled, about 1 hour. Brush loaves with egg and milk mixture. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours or until bread is well browned and sounds hollow inside when tapped. Mine is normally done at about an hour and 15 minutes. Cool a few minutes in pans before removing to racks to cool. Babka in great eaten warm from the oven.

Babka dough rising

Babka dough rising

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

The first time I made this dish, it was sort of an accident. It was right after Easter, a few years ago. I was having dinner with friends, and I was in charge of making dessert. I had leftover hot cross buns, so I decided to re-purpose them into bread pudding.

The end result was really good. So good, that my friend Amy said it was one of the best desserts I had ever made.

I now bake extra hot cross buns, just so I can make bread pudding from them.

I posted my recipe for hot cross buns yesterday. That inspired one of my friends to remind me about this recipe for bread pudding, so I am posting this recipe today.

You could use home made, or store bought buns for this recipe. Whatever works for you.

 

Hot Cross Buns Bread Pudding

12 c. torn up hot cross buns- I used 8 buns

2 c. half and half

1 c. milk – I used almond milk

1 c. sugar- or less if you are using frosted buns

5 eggs

1 T. vanilla

1 T. cinnamon

Frosting:

1 c. powdered sugar

4 t. milk

In large mixing bowl place the torn up buns. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the buns. Stir to moisten evenly. Spoon mixture into a buttered 9×13-inch pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until bread pudding is set and a little golden on top. While the bread pudding is baking combine powdered sugar with milk to make a frosting thin enough to drizzle. Let bread pudding cool 10 minutes and drizzle with frosting.  Serves 8-10.

 

 

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

These rich rolls are a traditional at Easter. At least they are in my house. The dough is rich and slightly sweet. The frosting on top adds to their sweetness.

Hot cross buns can be served at breakfast, brunch or even as a dinner roll. I have served them with coffee, after dinner. So I guess they can be a dessert, too. I used leftover buns to make bread pudding one year.

Because the dough is rich, they are slow to rise. If they aren’t jumping out of the pan after an hour or so, don’t worry. They do rise quite a bit in the oven.

After they cool a bit- pipe on the icing in the crisscross pattern that gives these rolls their name.

 

Hot Cross Buns

 2/3 c. sugar

1 t. salt

2 packages active dry yeast

About 5 cups bread flour

1 ½ c. milk

½ c. butter

2 eggs

1 c. raisins

Icing

¾ c. powdered sugar

1 T. milk

In bowl combine sugar, salt, yeast and about 1 ½ c. flour. Heat together milk and butter until very warm. Beat milk mixture into to flour mixture and beat 2 minutes with electric mixer. Beat in 1 egg and 1 cup flour and beat 2 more minutes until batter thickens. Stir in raisins and enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Place dough on floured surface and divide into 15 equal pieces. Cover with towel and lest rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile grease a 9×13 inch pan. Form dough into smooth balls and place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat remaining egg. Cut a cross in each bun and brush with the egg. Bake for 25 minutes or until buns are golden. Remove buns to wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Make frosting, place in decorating bag and pipe onto buns. Makes 15.

Cream Cheese Sweet Bread

Cream Cheese Sweet Bread

For some reason, I had real trouble naming this recipe. It’s a sweet bread, with a cream cheese and chocolate chip filling. The filling reminded me of cheese cake, cheese Danish and cannoli, all rolled into one.

Whatever you call it- it is really good. This would be a great brunch or breakfast dish for Easter morning. You could also serve it for dessert.

It can be baked a head of time, and it even freezes well. It is sweet, but not too sweet. When I mixed up the filling ingredients, it was kind of runny. I decided to precook the filling, which worked out great.

I used a powder sugar glaze for the top, then added sliced almonds.  I could see adding a drizzle of melted chocolate, too. Well, maybe the next time.

 

Cream Cheese Sweet Bread

 

3 ¼ c. flour

¾ c. sugar

2 t. cinnamon

1 t. salt

1 package quick-rising yeast

1 c. hot water

1 T. oil

Filling

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

½ c. sugar

2 eggs

2 t. vanilla

1 c. mini chocolate chips, optional

Topping

2 c. powdered sugar

Milk, water or lemon juice

Toasted sliced almonds*

 

Set aside 1 cup of the flour. Combine remaining flour with the other dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in water and oil and gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and allow dough to double, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese with sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Mixture will be soupy. Place cream cheese mixture in a microwave safe bowl and cook, in microwave, on high, for 3-4 minutes, or until cheese mixture firms up. Let it cool down 10 minutes and then stir it. Stir in chips, if using.  Roll dough into a rectangle about 16 x 8. Spread cheese filling down center middle of dough.  Cut one-inch wide strips of dough from filling to edge on both sides. It will sort of look like fringe.  Alternating sides, fold strips up and over the filling at an angle.  Carefully lift loaf onto greased baking sheet and place at an angle. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to double in bulk, about 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375-degree for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place bread on a rack to cool. Make the topping by combining powdered sugar with just enough liquid so you can drizzle it over the bread. Once the bread is cooled down, drizzle with the glaze. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Refrigerate leftovers.

 

 

If you use regular yeast, use warm, rather than hot water. Also, it will take a little longer for dough to rise.

*To toast the almonds, just place them in a skillet, over medium heat, and cook until lightly browned.  Stir or toss often and watch closely so they don’t burn.

spread filling and cut dough into 1-inch strips

spread filling and cut dough into 1-inch strips

fold dough over filling

fold dough over filling

 

 

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

These rolls are a nice addition to your Easter breakfast or dinner. They are easy to make and taste better then anything you are likely to find at the store. I could tell you that you can also freeze leftovers, but who are we kidding? There aren’t going to be any leftovers.

Hot Cross Buns

 2/3 c. sugar

1 t. salt

2 packages active dry yeast

About 5 cups bread flour

1 ½ c. milk

½ c. butter

2 eggs

1 c. raisins

Icing

¾ c. powdered sugar

1 T. milk

In bowl combine sugar, salt, yeast and about 1 ½ c. flour. Heat together milk and butter until very warm. Beat milk mixture into to flour mixture and beat 2 minutes with electric mixer. Beat in 1 egg and 1 cup flour and beat 2 more minutes until batter thickens. Stir in raisins and enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Place dough on floured surface and divide into 15 equal pieces. Cover with towel and lest rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile grease a 9×13 inch pan. Form dough into smooth balls and place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat remaining egg. Cut a cross in each bun and brush with the egg. Bake for 25 minutes or until buns are golden. Remove buns to wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Make frosting, place in decorating bag and pipe onto buns. Makes 15.

Easter Egg Biscotti

Easter Egg Biscotti

Easter Egg Biscotti

I get so many requests for this recipe I decided to post it again. I got this recipe from Rose Dieglio. Rose was the mother of my best friend when I was a kid. I looked forward to them every Easter. I always make a bunch to hand out to friends and family. It is a tradition I enjoy very much.

 

 

Easter Egg Biscotti

1 c. shortening or butter- I use butter

1 ½ c. sugar

4 eggs

5 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

2 t. vanilla

1 c. milk

6 c. flour

Hard cooked eggs, plain or dyed

Powdered sugar glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter or shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add next 4 ingredients and blend until smooth. Stir in flour 2 cups at a time. Dough should be pliable. If dough is too sticky add a little more flour. Take a piece of dough about the size of a large egg and place on a greased baking sheet. Indent middle slightly and then place an egg in the center, pressing down slightly. It should look like a nest. Continue with remaining dough allowing about 2-3 inches in between as they grow. You can fit 6-8 on a large baking sheet. Bake 20 –25 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Cool on wire rack before drizzling with frosting. Makes 24-30.

Sugar glaze

2 c. powdered sugar

2-3 T. milk or orange juice

1 t. vanilla

Food coloring, if desired

Mix together until smooth and of drizzling consistency.

 

Honey Bunnies

Honey Bunny

Honey Bunny

I make these sweet rolls every year for Easter but they are so good you can enjoy them any time. Sweet and so cute they are sure to be a hit when you make them. The dough is chilled before rolling so you can mix up a batch in the evening- put in the fridge- then roll them out the next day.

 

Honey Bunnies

 4-5 c. flour

2 packages yeast

1 t. salt

2/3 c. evaporated milk

½ c. each water, honey and butter

2 eggs

Raisins, optional

Honey glaze

1/2 c. honey and 1/4 c. butter or margarine heated together until warm.

In bowl combine 1 c. flour, yeast and salt. Heat together milk, water, honey and butter until very warm and beat into the flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes on high speed. Beat in 1 cup flour and eggs. Beat 2 more minutes, until batter thickens. Stir in enough flour to make a stiff batter and chill, covered with plastic wrap for 2-24 hours.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and divide into 15 equal pieces. Roll each into a 20- inch rope. Cut rope into a 12- inch piece, a 5-inch piece and 3 one-inch pieces. Coil 12 inch piece to form body, five inch piece to form head and inch pieces to form ears and tail. Place on greased cookie sheet and let rise, covered until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and brush with honey glaze. Place raisins on each to make eyes. Brush with additional glaze before serving, if desired. Makes 15 bunnies.

Roll dough out into a rope

Roll dough out into a rope

Cut dough into pieces for the bunny

Cut dough into pieces for the bunny

Assemble into bunny shapes

Assemble into bunny shapes

Let bunnies rise before baking

Let bunnies rise before baking

Brush baked bunnies with warm honey glaze

Brush baked bunnies with warm honey glaze