NEW micro-bakery brings tasty babka to your door

By Steven Short

While the rest of the world was making banana bread, Pasha Milburn was busy perfecting another kind of bake: babka, which she now sells under the guise of Small Batch Babka. 

“Babka originated in Eastern Europe and is a sweet, braided bread made with milk, butter (traditionally sometimes oil) and eggs,” says Old Town-based Pasha, who’s also Food Editor of Hastings Independent Press. “They’re rolled up and twisted with a sweet filling inside, and this shaping technique creates their distinctive eye-catching swirl. Once baked, babka is either topped with syrup or streusel.” 


Pasha first came across babka when she visited family in America as a child, but it wasn’t until she saw a recipe for them in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book that she had a go at making them for herself. “I remember I was at university at the time and had just started to discover the magic of baking enriched breads. Baking babka felt like a way to reconnect with my own Eastern-European heritage.”

While the ingredients for babkas are similar to many cakes, making them is a somewhat lengthier process. “It’s a bit of a labour of love,” admits Pasha. “The dough is yeasted and so you give it two rises. I let it rise first overnight in the fridge which helps develop the flavour, and in the morning, you roll it out, add your filling and let it rise again.” 


Babkas, which, as Pasha noted, originated among the Jewish communities of Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern-Europe before spreading across the globe, were traditionally filled with jam or cinnamon, with chocolate being added later (when Eastern-European Jews emigrated to America). For Small Batch Babka she’s gone beyond the traditional, experimenting with a range of flavours such as maple and pecan, caramelised white chocolate and toasted almond and tahini and fig. She also offers vegan babka to cater for the growing number of plant-based eaters in Hastings and St Leonards. 

“I change the menu each month,” says Pasha, “People place their orders on Instagram and my partner and I deliver on a Saturday.” There are three flavours available each month and each babka is enough for 8-10 servings (they weigh 900g approx.). Small Batch’s August babkas were inspired by travelling: Churros: dulce de leche, chocolate and cinnamon, Tropical: mango curd, toasted coconut and lime syrup and Baklava: pistachio, walnut and cinnamon with honey syrup. If they all sound too delicious to choose just one, you can also order a mixed babka bun box, which has two buns of each flavour. 


Pasha first started baking babka for Home Ground Kitchen last year as part of their Brunch Club offerings. Her bakes were so well received she thought she might try selling them for herself. “I really enjoyed baking them, and people were really positive about them. I started posting about them on Instagram and things really took off.” Small Batch Babka now has a loyal fan base and flavours sell out almost as soon as Pasha posts about them, as “I bake at home with a small oven and limited space, which is why we’re small batch!” She’s currently searching for larger premises to expand. 

September’s flavours will be unveiled soon on the Gram, and Pasha also supplies a small number to Milk + Hustle in St Leonard’s. You can also try them – and meet Pasha – at The Yard’s Maker’s Market (Waterworks Road) on the 21st August and at The Pop Up Emporium Market (Stade Hall) on 4th September. 

For further details, and to see photos of Pasha’s impressive baking skills, visit Instagram and Facebook @smallbatchbabka. 

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