Drunken Purim Babka

Portrait of King Stanislaus Leszczyński.

To really celebrate Purim, we should consume so much alcohol that we cannot tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. Unlike at all the other Jewish holidays, alcohol takes center stage during Purim. Why not extend this pleasure to all the recipients of your mishloach manot packages? Mishloach manot are the gifts of food that are traditionally given out during Purim. One delicious Purim food from the Polish Jewish community that can be added to a gift package is shikkor babka, or drunken babka.

It is believed that drunken babka was invented by mistake. In the 18th century, Poland’s King Leszczynski was in exile in Provence. His chef baked a Gugelhupf (yeast marble cake) for dessert. The cake was overbaked and very dry. When the king bit into it, he was so infuriated that he threw it across the dinner table. The cake knocked over an open bottle of rum. King Leszczynski decided to taste a slice of cake soaked in rum. He loved it!

The rum-soaked babka, also called Ponczowa, became a favorite Polish dessert. This recipe crept into Jewish kitchens, and Polish Jews adopted it for their Purim celebration. With the recipe below, you can now include drunken babkas in your Purim gift baskets this year.

Photo: Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA.

Drunken Purim Babka
Adapted from Barbara Rolek

Ingredients for the Yeast Sponge

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

Ingredients for the Batter

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 11 tablespoons softened butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the Rum Syrup

  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preparing the Yeast Sponge

  1. In a large bowl, mix the warm milk, yeast, sugar and flour.
  2. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and place in a warm spot for 15 minutes.

Mixing the Batter

  1. In another bowl, whip the eggs with the sugar and salt.
  2. Mix in the butter, the yeast starter and flour.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Baking the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 ℉.
  2. Coat a bundt pan with non-stick baking spray.
  3. Pour the batter into the bundt pan.
  4. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven.
  7. Wait 15 minutes, and then invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Preparing the Rum Syrup and Adding It to the Cake

  1. Make simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a pot.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, and add the lemon juice and zest.
  3. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Remove from the heat, and add the rum.
  5. Poke holes into the cake using a toothpick.
  6. Pour the rum syrup onto the cake.
  7. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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