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International Desserts for the Winter Olympics: Poland Babka

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As the eyes of the world turn to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and we witness some of the finest athletes in the world compete in their chosen sport, there is no need to be watching on an empty stomach! As the world gathers in Sochi, Russia, we bring the world together in the kitchen and celebrate international diversity with some classic world famous desserts!

Poland is a country if immense beauty, beautiful warm and caring people and a national cuisine which ranks as one of the world's best. It is also the home of Babka, a dessert which to me, exemplifies the tastes and joys of the winter season.

I have had Babka made in the form of a bundt cake, a stollen and a bread. I have had it made from whole grain flours, potato dough and yeast dough. I've had it made with chocolate, with nuts and with fruit (and even a few combinations of all the aformentioned). To pick one particular Babka recipe is not easy, so I opted for the one I usually bake at home during the winter season. It's fun, it's tasty and it's pretty damn easy!

Ingredients needed to make Polish Babka (makes 1 cake):

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 ½ tsp. yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl whisk together the water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Set aside 5 minutes to proof (foam).
  2. In a large bowl whisk the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the salt and egg yolks.
  3. Into the bowl stir in the proofed yeast, raisins and zest. Stir in the flour and heavy cream until a stiff batter forms. Cover the bowl and let rise 1 hour.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350. Line the bottom of an 11-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon and almonds.
  6. Place in oven and bake 35 minutes or until a tester come out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool until slicing and serving.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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