Belarus: Potato Babka

On to Belarus!

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This week’s baked good is not a typical dessert item like many of my projects so far, but is instead a savoury dish, that I believe is eaten during the main course. I personally also think it is a great breakfast item!

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I know next to nothing about Belarus, so instead of current events, I’m going to throw some facts at you. Let’s learn stuff!
-The capital city Minsk has been destroyed EIGHT times throughout it’s long history. But it has been rebuilt every time. It is also older than Moscow, having record of the city as far back as 1067.
-Ireland is known for their potato dishes, but Belarus should probably be called the land of potatoes, since they have over 300 native potato recipes.
-Like fashion or art? Ralph Lauren and Marc Chagall are both from Belarus!
-Belarussian and Russian are the two official languages of the country.
-Their flag is pretty cool. The green stripe on the bottom signifies that 40% of the country is covered in forests. The red represents freedom and the sacrifices of the nation’s forefathers. The decorative pattern on the left side is derived from local plants and flowers and is a traditional type of design used in Belarus.
-And here are some more facts!

Alright, so a potato babka is a baked potato dish, typically with onions, eggs and bacon or sausage mixed in. I’ve seen some recipes that use regular grated potatoes, some that use very finely grated potatoes, and some that used mashed potatoes. Obviously each one would give a different texture, and I’m thinking that different regions use different forms of potatoes (for example, I think in Poland, using mashed potatoes is more common??). I grated my potatoes very finely, on the smallest side of a box grater. It took a while, and was a bit messy and produced a lot of juice! But I set myself up at our dining room table and turned on Netflix (I’m watching “The Crown” which is a show about Queen Elizabeth II, and it’s quite good, I recommend it!) and shredded away.

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Since it took some time to grate all the potatoes, they turned brown while sitting in the bowl, which ended up giving the finished dish a greyish tint. But it still tasted wonderful, so I didn’t mind ha~!

Other than taking time to grate potatoes, this dish is pretty easy to make. The prep includes grating potatoes, frying the onions and bacon, then mixing all the ingredients together. Other flavors in this dish aside from the potatoes, bacon and onions, include sour cream, eggs, and salt and pepper. It’s not a complex dish at all, but sometimes thats the beauty of it. 🙂 I think usually this is baked in a glass baking dish, or in individual cups like ramekins. I saw one recipe used a bundt pan, and I decided to go with that option as well, partly for presentation’s sake, and partly because I don’t have ramekins. If you have been following my blog, you might remember that I kind of hate bundt pans because I can never get the dish out in one piece, not matter how much I grease and flour the pan! But I went against my better judgement and used it anyway. One recipe I found greased the pan with butter, then coated it in breadcrumbs to keep it from sticking, so I decided to try that too. And to my joyful surprise, it worked wonderfully! I was probably a little more excited than I should have been when it came out of the pan cleanly.
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I don’t have much else to say about this dish, other than I recommend it! Here are some more pictures of my process!

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Gonna try flip this thing!
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It worked!!!!

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About the recipe, I once again used a few recipes and combined them, because each one I found required different amounts of the ingredients, so I compromised and sort of put them together. But I’ll link you to my three sources, so if you’d like to follow one of those instead, feel free: 1- HERE , 2- HERE, 3- HERE. And here is my recipe:

Potato Babka

Ingredients:
6 medium potates (I actually dont remember what kind of potatoes I used..Yukon Gold maybe?? I also had 2 large ones and 3 small ones and 1 medium sized one, so I’m guessing that’s roughly six medium potatoes!)
1 onion (I had a very large onion so I only used half)
Half package of bacon, chopped
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 tbsp butter
plain breadcrumbs (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Fry the bacon in a skillet. Remove the bacon from the pan and set to drain on a paper towel. Keep enough bacon grease in the pan to cook the onions with. Saute the onions until translucent. Remove from heat.
  3. Wash and peel the potatoes, and grate them using the fine side of a grater. Drain the potatoes in a colander. You dont need to squeeze them, some juice remaining is okay.
  4. Mix all the ingredients (except butter) together until combined.
  5. Grease your baking dish with the butter, and coat with bread crumbs.
  6. Pour the potato mixture into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
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