Surprise your family with these light and fresh springtime desserts.

– 1/4 cup very warm water (105 to 115F degrees)
– 1 envelope active dry yeast or ½ oz fresh yeast
– ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
– 6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
– 6 large or extra-large egg yolks
– 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup milk
Finely grated lemon zest of 2 lemons
– 5 ounces (I cup) raisins
– 3 ounces (1/2 cup) candied orange peel

Soaking Syrup
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup sugar
– ¼ cup of rum
– 1 tsp vanilla

– 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
– 1 to 3 tablespoons water, enough to reach desired consistency

Raisins and candied orange peel for decoration
1. In a mixing bowl with a paddle mix water, yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and ½ cup of flour. Let it sit till it rises and cracks on the top.
2. Change the paddle to a dough hook. Add the milk, yolks and butter, and then add part of the flour and salt. Once you have achieved a uniform dough, add the rest of the flour, leaving a ½ cup behind. If the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl and bottom do not add any more flour, but if it is still wet add the rest of the flour.
3. The dough should be silky and smooth to the touch, like a down pillow.
4. Take the mixing bowl out from the mixing stand and add the raisins, orange peel and lemon zest. Mix this with a wooden spoon or by hand.
5. Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface, knead it into a round ball. Let it rest for ten minutes.

6. Make a whole in the middle with your two thumbs so the dough will look like a tire and put it into a well-greased kugelhopf pan or a tube shaped pan. If the pan is not well greased the babka will stick to it upon unmolding and destroy the beautiful cake.

7. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or greased plastic wrap and put it in a warm, draft free place. This will take 1 to 2 hours depending on the warmth of the kitchen. Once the dough reaches just until ¼ inch below the top edge it is ready to be baked.
8. While the dough is rising cook the syrup. In a medium saucepan cook the water and sugar until it boils and then once the mixture is clear take off the heat and add rum and vanilla. Pour into a bowl big enough to be able to dunk the babka in.
9. Put in a preheated oven and bake at 325F for 45 minutes to an hour. If the babka browns too fast cover with aluminum foil. The way to test for doneness is to insert a wooden skewer in and if it comes out clean it is done.

10. Remove from the mold and put back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes so that it browns nicely on the outsides and has a rich and caramelized flavor.

11. Let the babka cool for 10-15 minutes and the dunk into the rum syrup for 10-15 seconds. The cake should be slightly cooled if too warm while dunking in the syrup it will fall apart. Let the babka sit for another ten minutes before glazing, so that the rum syrup can be absorbed.

12. Make the glaze by stirring with a whisk the powdered sugar with water; if you want a thinner glaze add more water to it. Pour the glaze over the over the top of the babka and sprinkle with raisins and candied orange peel. The babka can be eaten without the glaze just with a dusting of powdered sugar.

13. Slice it with a serrated knife and served with a dollop of whipped cream or butter and jelly. The babka can be made ahead upto step 10 and frozen. Defrost it and dunk in a hot rum syrup.

SMACZNEGO! (Means bon appetit in Polish)