Mrs. Kostyra's Babkas

3 8-inch babkas

Laden with dried fruits and nuts, these babkas—from a recipe brought to us by Martha's mother—make perfect hostess gifts, for cooks willing to share.


  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for molds

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 3 envelopes active dry yeast (3 scant tablespoons), or 1 ⅓ ounces compressed fresh yeast, crumbled

  • 1 cup plus a pinch of sugar

  • ½ cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

  • 5 large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 9 or 10 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 cup dried currants

  • 1 ½ cups golden raisins

  • 1 cup dark raisins

  • 1 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  1. Butter three kugelhopf molds (each 1 1/2 quarts and 8 inches in diameter); set aside. Butter a large bowl; set aside. Heat milk and butter in a saucepan over medium-low, stirring, until butter is melted.

  2. Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, 7 to 10 minutes.

  3. Whisk together 4 eggs, the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until thick, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, liqueur, zests, yeast mixture, and milk mixture; whisk 1 minute more. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in up to 10 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, until a sticky dough forms. Stir in dried fruits and almonds.

  4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead, dusting with flour if it seems sticky, until smooth and soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to buttered bowl. Loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Punch down dough. Loosely cover with buttered wrap; let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.

  5. Punch down dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 1 minute. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope. Fit each rope into a buttered mold; press end of rope into dough to seal. Loosely cover with buttered wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together remaining egg and the cream in a small bowl. Brush dough with egg wash. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in molds on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Unmold onto rack, and let cool completely, larger sides down.

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