Bábovka, babka, bundt cake or fluted cake – this classic cake can be found in many European cuisines and has quite a few variations around the world as well. What all these cakes have in common is the fluted ring shape with a hollow space in the centre.
To make a Slovak bábovka, I use an old family recipe and a vintage glass baking pan I’ve had for years. These pans were made to last, and they also have the advantage of letting you see how the cake is turning brown in the oven. It helps you better assess its donenness, although I always double-check by inserting a skewer in the cake towards the end of baking.
I couldn’t find the origins of the Slovak name of bábovka anywhere, and the word is impossible to translate into English, so I’ve decided to give this Slovak classic a new English name derived from its shape.
- 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 200 g castor sugar
- 200 g pastry flour
- 1 sachet vanilla sugar (10 g)
- 1 sachet baking powder (14 g)
- 100 ml water
- 100 ml oil
- 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
- margarine or pork lard for greasing
- Grease the baking dish thouroughly with margarine or pork lard, covering every inch and including the central tube. Dust with a thin layer of flour. This is important for easy removal of the finished cake from the pan.
- Beat the egg yolks with the castor sugar and vanilla sugar in a mixing bowl until smooth and foamy. Gradually, pour in the water and the oil, stirring the mixture all the time. Add the flour mixed with the baking powder and stir gently until a smooth batter has formed.
- Whisk the egg whites in a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks. This is what we call sneh (snow) in Slovakia. Fold the ‘snow’ in the batter and pour half of it into the baking pan.
- Gently fold the cocoa powder in the other half of the batter and pour it into the pan. Because the cocoa batter is heavier, it will create a nice mottled pattern as it sinks into the pale batter.
- Put the pan onto a baking sheet to ensure better stability and more even heat distribution. Bake in the oven preheated to 180ºC for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the cake turns golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in its centre comes out clean.
- Take out of the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the cake to loose it from the pan.
- Carefully turn the pan upside down and tip the cake out onto a large serving plate. Drizzle with some more castor or vanilla sugar. Slice and serve with a cup of tea or coffee.
The cake is excellent on its own, but if you want to treat yourself and your dearest to a more substantial dessert, serve it with cream, custard or ice-cream.