Babka (cake)

Easter babka
Alternative names Bobka, baba, bábovka
Type Cake
Region or state Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Romania
Cookbook: Babka  Media: Babka

Babka, or Bábovka, is a sweet yeast cake or a potato pie (known as potato babka).


The Polish and Belarusian noun babka and the Belarusian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Russian baba means "grandmother" or "old woman", and as applied to the pastry probably refer to its shape, a tall cylinder, sometimes with corrugations resembling a skirt’s pleats.[1] The name of the pastry entered English from Polish, via French, although "babka" is also sometimes used in its original sense ("grandmother"), especially among those of Central and Eastern European descent.[2]

Jewish version

Another version of babka is associated with the Eastern European Jewish tradition. This babka is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough and is typically baked in a high loaf pan. Instead of a fruit filling, the dough contains cinnamon and/or chocolate. The babka is usually topped with streusel.

A similar cake called a kokosh is also popular in Jewish bakeries. Kokosh also comes in chocolate and cinnamon varieties, but it is lower and longer than babka, is not twisted, and not topped with streusel. Cakes of these styles are typically, but not universally, considered couronnes baked in loaf pans, rather than babkas. Kokosh has become popular in North American cities with large Jewish populations, including Montreal, New York, Chicago, Miami, and Toronto.

Soviet-Bloc Jews also refer to babka as a kind of fried spaghetti cake, made with eggs, salt, pepper, and thinly sliced onion. Other cultures may refer to this as noodle kugel or Lokshen.

In the Seinfeld episode "The Dinner Party," protagonist Jerry Seinfeld and his friend Elaine Benes miss out on the last chocolate babka, which they wanted to buy, while at a bakery. They resort to purchasing a cinnamon babka, which Elaine considers a "lesser babka," but Jerry begs to differ.

In the Community episode "Home Economics" (Season 1, Episode 8), Jeff Winger states: "I'm heading back. Pavel's making babka." (The babka is not seen nor described.)

In the Orphan Black episode "The Weight of This Combination" (Season 3, Episode 1), Helena has a dream of a baby shower with her sisters and family. At the shower, Cosima gifts a babka cake to a very pleased Helena who then takes a huge bite. Later, in "History Yet to Be Written" (Season 3, Episodes 10), Helena bakes a babka cake to celebrate Alison's election victory. Amongst the Clone Club and their allies, Helena appears to be the only person who knows what a babka cake is.

In the second episode of The Nanny, "Smoke Gets Caught in Your Lies," Fran and Maxwell bring babka to Yetta at her retirement home, which later backfires at the episode's end, after all the people in her home surround them, causing Maxwell to throw the babka towards the hungry crowd.

In Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery, Hannah Swensen gives a babka to Mike Kingston, the new detective in town. (The babka is not seen nor described.)

See also


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