“You can’t beat a babka!” These immortal words, spoken by Elaine Benes and Jerry Seinfeld, introduced the United States to one of the most delicious but one of the most mysterious desserts in the world.
As the daughter of two European parents, I was used to hearing oddly named and odd-sounding food on a regular basis. Truthfully, in my mind, I thought they were nicknames my parents had given these foods to make them sound more interesting and appealing. It was only when I grew up that I learned babka is the actual term for this sweet yeast cake that is customary to both Christian and Jewish backgrounds.
While both babkas are made with a sweet dough, they are shaped differently. Round compared to double twisted, filled and unfilled, baked in different-style pans, and then topped in different ways, crumbs vs. glazes, a splash of rum here and there and so on.
We celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim, and now it’s time for the Irish celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, a day of celebration that honors the life of Christian Saint Patrick, the arrival of Christianity into Ireland and the heritage and culture of the Irish people and their country. Both are joyous holidays in which we feast, dress up (in costumes or in green) and of course, drink, which is how the idea of a “tipsy babka” was created.
You can make the filling with Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur if you want to make this babka with dairy; however you’ll find that the flavor bakes off. If you use Irish Cream oil, you’ll find that the flavor is stronger. The oil is very potent and retains its flavor throughout baking and cooling. Use sparingly, as it is very strong. When it comes to the glaze, you can use Bailey’s Irish Cream coffee creamer instead of milk and the Lorann oil. This method keeps your babka alcohol free and festive.