AUNT BESSIE'S BABKA

My mother's Aunt Bessie Citron is a baker without equal. Among her many triumphs is this melt-in-your-mouth sour cream coffee cake. DOUGH: 2 sticks (1/2 pound) sweet (unsalted) butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup sour cream 1 package granulated yeast (1/2 ounce) 4 extra large eggs 4 1/2 cups flour, measured after sifting 1/2 teaspoon salt

FILLING: 4 tablespoons sweet butter, softened 1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans 1/2 cup golden raisins 1 egg yolk 2 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Melt the butter and place it in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix well. Mix in the sour cream, the yeast, and the eggs one at a time. When this mixture is well combined, stir in the flour and salt, mixing until the flour is well incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and grease 2 heavy-duty cookie sheets. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and on a lightly floured board roll each one into a 9-inch-wide rectangle. Smear each rectangle with a tablespoon of softened butter, sprinkle with ground nuts, some raisins, and roll into a cylinder. Place 2 rolls on each cookie sheet about 4 inches apart and paint with an egg wash made of 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes. This is delicious served warm, or it can be cooled completely, frozen and reheated.

Makes 4 babkas.

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