Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Babka: An Original Poem

One of my favorite childhood memories is of the time my mother and I drove over to her parents’ house one December night before Christmas. Babci, my grandmother, had taken a big pan of her homemade babka out of the oven just before we had arrived. She sliced a big hunk of the sweet bread for us to take home. We devoured half of it in the car. It was still warm and soooo delicious!

Here is a poem I wrote more than a dozen years ago about my Babci making her famous babka:

by Elaine Magliaro

We watch Babci make the Christmas babka.

With plump peasant hands

she kneads sweet dough

on the white porcelain-topped table,

places it in a large sky-blue bowl,

covers it with a damp towel,

and sets it on the kitchen counter

near the hissing radiator.

Swelling with bubbles of air,

the dough rises into a pale yellow cloud

flecked with bits of orange rind.

The baking babka fills the house

with the scent of Christmas.

We eat the bread fresh from the oven,

its insides steaming and golden—

a homemade treasure

rich enough to warm a winter night.


At Blue Rose Girls I have a video from Brave New Films entitled George Bush’s Nightmare before Christmas. In the video, an actor impersonates Bush and recites a parody of Clement Moore’s famous holiday classic The Night before Christmas.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Author Amok.


Anonymous said...

Poetry is in the details, Elaine, which is what makes "The Christmas Babka" sing.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks, Pat! It's easy to include details when you write about the things you know and have experienced.

Linda said...

I can almost taste the babka.
Very nice!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks. I've learned how to make pierogis and potato pancakes--but I haven't yet attempted baking babka. I hope I can find Babci's recipe. I think my mother may have it.

Yat-Yee said...

Elaine, I have a Popo instead of a Babci, and mine made many scrumptious dishes but no babka. Yet I share the emotions in your poem.

Elaine Magliaro said...


It seems memories of the simplest things and most ordinary experiences of childhood are the ones I've held on to the longest. I spent many of the happiest days of my childhood at my Babci's and Dzidzi's.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Lovely, warm and satisfying! Thanks for sharing this.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I think we'll need all the "warm" we can get here in Massachusetts. It started snowing recently. We're supposed to get 6-12 inches today and tomorrow--and more snow Sunday night. So much for all the shopping and errands I have to do.

jama said...

A lovely, delicious poem!! I felt I was in that kitchen with you :).

Elaine Magliaro said...


You are the "Queen of Delicious" with all of those food posts and recipes at your blog.

Vivian Mahoney said...

Oh! The babka sounds so good! I'm making bread today...while I don't know how to make babka, the sweet scent of your poem is telling me to make a cinnamon raisin bread.

Hope you're enjoying the snow!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'm enjoying the snow from indoors. I should be making another batch of pierogis today--but I'm feeling a little lazy.

tess said...

This poem fits beautifully with this week's poetry stretch. I love it. I too am a pierogi princess currently longing to have babka rising in my kitchen!