Gastronomy Desserts Recipes

Bábovka – iconic Czech cake (including a 1920s recipe)

Bábovka is a very traditional Czech cake. I would like to tell you more about it and give you an authentic Czech recipe from the 1920s.

I’m actually going to give you two recipes but let’s start from the beginning.

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What is Bábovka

Bábovka is a kind of sponge cake baked in a special pan. It’s a Czech dessert, although similar cakes can be found in other countries. To give you some examples, the Bundt cake is similar in shape (bundt pan can be used for baking bábovka). And the same goes for pound cake.

You can make this cake as simple or complex as you want. In the Czech Republic, the most common variant is the two-colored so called mramorová bábovka (marble bábovka).


Bábovka Recipes

And now for the recipes. The first one is the marble cake that is most often baked in Czech households. The second one is a less common recipe that dates back to the First Republic.

To make this Czech recipe, you will need the correct pan. If you cannot get an authentic bábovka pan, this bundt cake pan is just fine.

Tip 1: It is essential to grease and coat your cake pan well if you want the result to be beautiful. You need to cover all the inside of the pan with butter and coarse flour (see the Czech flour guide) or breadcrumbs. One spot not covered will make the cake stick to the pan.

Covering the pan perfectly is essential.

Tip 2: Before you turn the pan upside down to have the cake pop out, take a knife and gently unstick the edges of the cake, especially around the center. Even if you covered the pan well, the edges will always stick a little more to the pan but – if you covered it well – they will not bake to the side of the pan.


Vanilla-cacao bábovka


We use 250ml cups for measuring.

  • 2 cups of flour (in Czechia we use a type of flour of slightly larger grain called polohrubá but all-purpose flour will be fine as well) – check out the Czech flour guide
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • pink of salt
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • bundt pan
  • some melted butter to grease the pan and a little coarse flour or bread crumbs

Bake it

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl except for the cacao powder. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Mix the yolks into the try ingredients, then add the oil, vanilla extract and warm water. Whisk the egg whites until they are solid and slowly incorporate them in the mixture.

Grease the baking pan and pour 2/3 or a half of the mixture in it. Add the cocoa powder in the rest of the mixture and combine properly. Pour the dark mixture also in the pan, both colors will mix a little. Bake for 30 minutes on 150°C and then another 20-30 minutes on 180°C.

Turn the pan upside down so the bábovka can pop out and powder with confectioner’s sugar.

Bábovka of three colors – recipe from the 1920s


  • 350 g/12.3 oz of polohrubá flour (Czech flour guide) – if you don’t have any, all purpose flour will do.
  • 180 g/6.3 oz of unsalted butter
  • 200 g / 7 oz of powder sugar + more to sprinkle the cake
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 6 tbsp of milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 full tbsp of cacao powder
  • 6 tbsp of red syrup (red currant, raspberry, cranberry…) – alternatively, you can use marmalade.
  • butter to grease the pan, coarse flour or breadcrumbs to cover the pan

Bake it

Separate the egg whites and yolks, beat the whites to a point just before they get totally firm. Then beat the yolks with the powder sugar and softened butter. Originally, you’d be whisking with a manual whisk for about half an hour, nowadays, you can use an electric whisk and whisk for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder.

Now, start beating the yolks again and little by little, add the flour mixture, milk and whipped egg whites. When the batter is smooth, divide it into three equal parts.

Grease and coat the baking pan well.

Pour one part in the pan. Mix the cacao powder into another part of the batter and pour it on the first layer. And the last part of the batter will be mixed with – you guessed it – the syrup. And into the pan with it.

Put a tablespoon into the batter and make little swirls – turn the spoon going up and down in the pan. Make sure you don’t touch the sides of the pan, you don’t want to scrape off the layer of butter and flour that prevents the batter from baking to the pan.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F and bake for 60 minutes. Insert a chopstick into the cake, if it comes out clean, the bábovka is done.

Take the cake out of the pan carefully, follow the tip 2 above.


Let the cake cool down completely and sprinkle with powder sugar.


And then serve! With tea, coffee, for breakfast or snack, any way you like!


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