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Things My Grandmother Taught Me | Celebrating Easter

March 22, 2010

Easter wasn’t really about the eggs in our home growing up. Well, it was a little bit. As much as we looked forward to chocolate treats, I remember Easter from my childhood most fondly for the big dinners, true fellowship, a celebration of what our Savior had done for us and Babka.

The Babka our mother made was the Babka our Oma made.  It is fondly titled in her cookbook, Prairie Pride: Cooking with Mimi Loewen, as “BABKA (Mimi’s Old, Old Easter Bread)” and dates itself to the year 1952.  Honestly, I know it’s babka, but as a kid I knew it only as “Easter Bread” and it meant that we were allowed to have something with icing sugar on top for breakfast.  (What a wonderful holiday.)

I’ve broken this recipe into two manageable parts.  The way it reads in Mimi’s cookbook proves difficult to follow.  I had to call my mother to clarify a few steps.  Aside from breaking the recipe in two, the text remains almost identical.  I’ve put additional helper notes at the bottom.  And without further ado…

BABKA (Mimi’s Old, Old Easter Bread)
Part One aka The Sponge
3 tsp sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
2 pkg dry yeast (I used 4.5 tsp dry yeast)
1/2 cup flour
Dissolve sugar in lukewarm milk.  Add yeast.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir in flour to make a “sponge.” Cover and let sponge rise for 1 hour.

Part Two aka The Rest
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, unbeaten
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp mace, optional
Rind of 1 lemon

Beat sugar & butter, adding one egg at a time.  Continue beating.  Add salt, the sponge, flour, mace & lemon rind.  Knead until smooth & elastic.  Use more flour if needed.  Place into greased, fluted 9″ pan & allow to rise for 1 hour.  Bake at 350°F  for 50 minutes.  Remove from pan as soon as baked.  Ice & decorate when cooled.  This bread is excellent if baked in well greased 28 or 48 ounce clean tomato cans with the labels removed.  Fill cans only 1/3 full, as dough will rise above can.  This recipe dates back to 1952.

Additional Helper Notes:
– In Part One I whisked my yeast into the milk and sugar.  I really wanted to make sure my yeast was still up to the job.
– I find whenever I make my grandmother’s recipes I need more flour.  I ended up using close to 2 1/4 cup in “Part Two.”
– I used two x 1L apple juice tins.  My mom used to make babka in Folger’s tins so it’s a bit nostalgic to do it this way for me.
– For extra yummy icing sugar try 3/4 – 1 cup powder icing sugar + 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.  Top with sprinkles or edible flowers.

~ Waters

P.S. Today is also Mimi’s birthday! We are so thankful we were blessed to have you with us!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Marg Loewen permalink
    March 22, 2010 5:25 PM

    Great Job, Ladies! Good Memories, and appropriate tribute! Blessings!

  2. LightWaters MOM permalink
    March 22, 2010 6:52 PM

    great job Maxx! you would make Grandma proud!
    thought of her often today… hope you enjoy the delights of your baking!
    it must have been a day for Mom’s.. Frank talked most of the day with his mother…reminiscing most of the day !! Thanks for making this day just that extra bit special …

  3. March 22, 2010 8:25 PM

    Did you make enough for all of us…
    Nice post!

  4. Beth Schloo permalink
    March 22, 2010 10:05 PM

    Wow – I like how you broke it down. You were right that you still need to add flour to this recipe. Most of the Mennonite cookbook recipes tell you to add more flour but don’t tell you how much just have to add until it feels right.
    Thanks for honouring your Grandma (my MOM)

  5. Pauline permalink
    March 23, 2010 1:06 AM

    Amazing!! Easter Bread! Yes, I thought about mom/grandma today as well. I made her apple crisp using maple syrup..which mom loved! It was delicious!

  6. Lisa Lyttle permalink
    March 23, 2010 8:28 AM

    Thanks so much for the post and pictures!! I find it so hard sometimes to bake without know what the finished product looks like! I miss Grandma lots too! I hope I can do the recipe justice. You’ve done a great job!

  7. March 23, 2010 10:04 AM

    Auntie Pauline! Apple Crisp with Maple Syrup? Is the recipe in the book? I love maple syrup.
    I’m sure I get my maple appetite from both sides of our family…

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