Happy Sunday! It’s been a perfect weekend over here at Today We Bake. The kind where the weather is crisp, family is visiting, and the ciders mills are open. We’ve been taking full advantage, and Saturday was busy with apple picking and hayrides in the autumn sun. So now it’s time to slow it down on Sunday with this babovka. It’s a simple yeasted coffee cake with almonds that takes a little bit of extra time to rise. But don’t let that stop you! The dough comes together easily, and the end result is a coffee cake that is just a little bit sweet and tastes of freshly baked bread. It’s calling out to be eaten on a morning with nothing on the schedule, cup of coffee and good book in hand.
I love baking coffee cake in a bundt pan. The pan and it’s fluted design leaves you with a cake that looks fancy without any extra work. I’ve made a lemon and raspberry poppy seed bundt cake before on the blog, but I’d never tried a yeasted version. When I saw this particular recipe in the Anniversary Slovak-American Cook Book, I knew it was time.
This dough starts with a sponge, which means that you give your yeast some extra time before adding all the flour to develop flavor. You add the yeast to warm milk and a little sugar, then wait for it to bubble. Then you mix in just enough flour, about ¾ cup, to make a very wet and spongy dough. Let it rise again while you get the rest of your ingredients together. You’ll notice bubbles developing and the sponge starting to rise.
This dough has plenty of butter and a little bit of sugar. To cream them you can use a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, whichever is more convenient. Cream them together until they are light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks. Then, in a separate bowl (or, if using a stand mixer, transfer the butter mixture to another bowl, clean out the bowl of your stand mixer, and use it again), beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. These will help make the batter even lighter and help it rise in the oven.
Now we’re ready to make the final dough. If you’re using a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can transfer the egg whites to a new bowl and put the sponge in the stand mixer. Add the butter-sugar-egg mixture to the sponge, followed by the salt, vanilla, almonds, and the rest of the flour. Stir it all together with a wooden spoon (or the dough hook). Finally, fold in the egg whites gently by hand until they are combined with the dough.
Set the dough aside to rise until it has doubled in bulk, about an hour and a half. During the last fifteen minutes, you can preheat your oven to 350°F and generously butter a bundt pan. Pour the dough into the bundt pan, and bake the cake for forty-five minutes. When you take it out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for five minutes, then flip it over on top of a cooling rack and tap the top and sides to get the cake to release.
And voila! An elegant looking but hearty tasting coffee cake studded with crispy and sweet almonds. I love the simplicity of this cake, both because it tastes amazing by itself, but also because you could do almost anything with it. Want to make some simple icing? Go for it! Have some stone fruit in the fridge? Slice it up and use it to top slices of this cake. Add whipped cream if you’re feeling especially crazy. This cake holds up to it all. If you do decide to make it, let me know how it turns out in the comments!
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup lukewarm milk
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- Combine yeast, lukewarm milk, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside for five to ten minutes, until yeast starts to bubble.
- Add enough flour to this mixture to make a spongy dough, about ¾ cup. Set aside to rise again.
- Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the egg yolks and add them, then add this mixture to the sponge.
- Add the rest of the flour, salt, and vanilla.
- Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then gently fold them into the dough, along with the almonds. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the dough in a buttered bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes.