Baba

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Baba is a rich yeast bread traditionally served at Easter.  It is always baked in a tall cylindrical pan or in a fluted pan.  I often use an empty large tomato juice can that has been washed and dried.

The name Baba means woman.  Some historians believe that a matriarchal system existed in ancient Ukrainian culture where women priestesses performed various religious rituals connected with the fertility of the earth.  The Baba may have been a feature of this ritual.

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 8 g. packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup boiled milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Rind of 1 lemon (finely chop)
  • Rind of 1 orange (finely chop)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 7  1/2 cups flour (approx.)
  • 3 cups raisins (wash, dry and dust the raisins with flour)

Dissolve 2 tsp. sugar in the lukewarm water.  Add the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.

Boil the milk, remove from heat and add the butter. Let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat 1 of the whole eggs and the 6 egg yolks until white; add the 1 cup of sugar and beat well.  To this bowl, add the yeast mixture and the milk mixture.

Add the rinds, juice vanilla and the salt.  Stir to combine.

Add the flour one cup at a time and when the dough no longer sticks to your hands in the mixing, mix in the raisins.

Set in a warm place for 45 minutes.  Punch down and let rise again until doubled (approx. 1 hour).

Fill to 1/3 and let rise until double.

While the dough rises, prepare your pans.  Round pudding bowls work well but as I mentioned, I save and use tall tomato juice or coffee tins.  Line them with parchment or wax paper, and butter them well.

Preheat your oven to 300*F.

When the dough has risen, fill the containers only 1/2 way up.  Let rest in a warm place again until the dough doubles in size.  Beat one egg slightly and lightly paint the tops of the bread.  Bake in a moderate 300*F. for 40 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 275*F. and bake for about 20 minutes more.  This temperature applies when using a large container.  If using smaller containers, reduce the baking time.