I am looking for a recipe for a airy loaf of Babka. My wife make it every Easter and it always comes out a little to dense.
I dont think that you need a better recipe. Just use your old one with a little "adjustment". Which kind of flour did your wife use? I always use strong flour for these kinds of breads.
First, leave out the sugar and butter and develop the gluten very well. Then add the butter and sugar in stags because they inhibit the "bonding" of the gluten strands. You save a lot of time kneading. Your goal is a really fully developed gluten network. That is important for rich yeast doughs which have usually more butter and sugar in them.
Second, i usually use 10% of the flour for a stiff starter sourdough starter and substract the amounds of flour and water off the straight dough recipe. You will not taste any sourness in the final product.
good luck with your babka
Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart has a very good Babka recipe.
I haven't got a recipe as such, I'm Russian not Polish and I'm not sure how much Polish and Russian Easter breads differ - they look very similar though. In Russia, there are broadly two varieties of Kulich/Babka/Paska - one dense, crumbly and more cake-like in texture, the other, like you say, airy and somewhat dry. The recipes don't differ that much, apart from the fact that some of those that produce airy breads may be less rich.
As Kalisto said, it's the flour you use and how well you develop the gluten that matters. In fact, the proportion of strong flour in your recipe matters so much that last year, when I replaced only half of the flour with strong (my recipe calls for 100% plain/all-purpose flour), my kulich came out remarkably airier and drier, and had a much more bread-like texture.
Also, one good trick is to use a few stiffly whipped egg whites. The Russian recipes mostly use yolks or a mixture of yolks and whole eggs, the whites are usually discarded/saved for something else. Now if you reserve approx 1/4 to 1/3 of the whites, whip them and veeeery gently fold them into the dough at the very end of kneading, that may just do the trick. Good luck!
I have never made this, but a friend's mother makes this every couple of weeks:
MOM’s Polish Babka (one 10” cake or Bundt Cake) 4 cup Flour 1 cup Milk 1 tsp. Butter 1 cup Raisins 2 Tbs. Yeast 1/4 cup Water 5 Jumbo Eggs 1/2 cup Sugar 1 tsp. Vanilla 1 tsp. Almond Extract In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and allow to proof. In a mixing bowl, cream the Sugar and Eggs. Add Vanilla and Almond Extract. Heat the milk and the but- ter to melt. Cool to lukewarm. Add the Yeast and the Milk to the Egg mixture. Mix the dry ingredients together. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the Egg mixture. It should be a loose dough. Place in oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap; and allow to double. Stir down mixture and allow to double again. Knock down and place in greased pan. Allow to double. Brush top with Egg wash. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.