Sweet Babka Easter Bread
Prep Time: 220 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 250 minutes
Scald 1.5 cups milk in small pot by heating milk to a near boil, remove from heat.
Add 1 cup of the hot milk in large pot. Add ¾ cup flour to milk. Stir till smooth.
Let ¼ cup milk sit till lukewarm, discard any leftover milk from 1.5 cup total. To this remaining milk, add 1 tbsp. sugar and 2 yeast cakes, crumbled. Mix until there are no lumps. Cover, and let form a sponge (about 20 minutes), no liquid will be left on the bottom.
After the yeast sponge forms, add to the flour & milk mixture above, cover with a pot lid or dish towel and sit aside for ½ hour until sponge bubbles.
Beat egg yolks with salt and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until creamy.
When sponge forms and bubbles, add egg mixture, beat well.
Add remaining 3-1/4 cup flour and vanilla. Work till satin smooth.
Add 1/2 cup melted butter and kneed mixture with hands. (You can use a bread dough hook on a stand mixer.)
Stir in golden raisin.
Cover with pot lid or dish towel. Let the dough rise someplace warm until dough doubles in volume, about 1-1/2 hours. Once it doubles in size, knock it down, and cover with a pot lid or dish towel to rise again in a warm place, about 1-1/2 hours.
Butter bread pans well with butter.
Above dough has risen twice, knead well on board with flour.
Separate into 3 sections and place in 3 well buttered bread pans. Flatten dough to ends of pan.
Scrape remaining dough down the sides of bowl (about 1/3 cup of dough).
Stir in 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter with dough scraps.
Stir in 1/3 cup flour. The consistency should be like play-doh and you should feel the grit of the sugar. If not, add more butter, sugar, and/or flour.
Place dough scraps topping on top of bread, pressing slightly.
Cover pans with a a dish towel. Let dough rise in the pans until light (reaches top of pans), about 2 hours.
Bake at 325° for 27-30 minutes. Put tin foil under pans or a large baking sheet on rack below to catch possible drippings.
May be served warm or cold, with or without butter on top.