Chocolate Babka

Chocolate babka recipe

I’d been anxious to eat at Honey & Co. in London, which was at the top of my list of places to try there, but never made it. One of the underrepresented foods in Paris is Middle Eastern food. With a large population from that part of the world, most of the restaurants are snack bar-like stands. And even at the standard Middle Eastern restaurants, I suspect they get their hummusbaba ganoush and other dips, from elsewhere. The knees on my pants are all worn down from begging people like Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi of Ottolenghi and Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, the owners of Honey & Co., to open a branch in Paris. But so far, they’re staying on the other side of the Channel.

Chocolate Babka recipe

My last trip to London was only twenty-four hours (too many places…not enough time!) and as much as I tried to get to Honey & Co., and a few other places, it didn’t happen. And before I knew it, I was back on the Eurostar train, heading home. But proof that if you wish for something hard enough, when I was in Ireland at Ballymaloe, spending time in the kitchen early one morning with the head baker, in walked Sarit and Itamar, who started to prepare a generous lunch of all the Middle Eastern foods that I love. And a few hours later, I was sitting around an amazing table loaded with gorgeous salads, spreads, and long-roasted lamb, prepared by the talented team themselves!

Chocolate Babka recipe

And proof that double-dreams do come true, Sarit and Itamar recently came to Paris and we had a lovely lunch together. They’re had a little difficulty adjusting to all the rich foods, but were troopers. And when we parted, again, they handed me a copy of Honey & Co. The Baking Book, which I was planning on picking up the next time I was in the U.S. or England, along with a bag of their chocolate and pistachio cookies (page 202) that were loaded with beautiful, bright green pistachio nuts.

The book was named the Food Book of the Year by the Sunday Times and it’s easy to see why: If I had more time on my hands, and I hadn’t been laid up for three months with a bum knee that eventually needed surgery, sitting around eating chocolate on my couch, I’d be able to eat everything in the book.

Chocolate Babka recipe - yeast

Still, man cannot live by peanut M&M’s alone, and one must have babka. I’ve been working on babka for a while. The loaves you get in bakeries tend to be dry, sad affairs, with a few chocolates dusty bits here and there. When I saw the picture in the Honey & Co. Baking Book, I had to try it.

Chocolate Babka recipe

However when I was in Tel Aviv, I had the most delicious rugelach of my life and the baker told me his secret was brownie crumbs. Although I never was able to get the recipe from him, which he promised me, I had the idea stuck in my craw and decided to use them here. And for those who don’t eat nuts, you can leave them out and just add the brownie or cookie bits.

In another bit of serendipity, I had some chocolate wafer cookie dough that I’d made, but I goofed adding the flour, so into the freezer the dough went. Usually things that go into my freezer disappear farther and farther to the back, until I find them years later. But this dough was right on top. So I made makeshift “cookies” out of it, baked them so they were still soft inside, and crumbled those up to use.

Chocolate Babka recipe

Chocolate Babka recipe

Another change I made was some adjustment with the flour. I wrote to Itamar to inquire further and he thought the flour in France might be too strong compared to what they are used to. (Interesting, supermarket flour in France is very soft, and low in protein, which American bakers find out the hard way when they go to bake their first batch of chocolate chip cookies in France and open the oven door midway through the find the dough had spread and flowed, lava-like, all over the baking sheet.)

The first babka I made tasted incredible. I could not keep myself from snatching bits and pieces of it. It was nothing like the babkas I had at Jewish bakeries when I was a kid. Rich dark chocolate and crisp nuts were embedded in a twisted loaf that offered a variety of compelling textures with every mouthful that I lopped off. Soon I found myself forgetting about those peanut M&M’s, and thinking more and more about babka.

Chocolate Babka recipe

Chocolate Babka recipe

But I still wanted to get the dough right as mine seemed awfully stiff. Their instructions say the dough will be quite soft so best to refrigerate it, to make it easier to work with.

Chocolate Babka recipe

Because I’m such a nice person and wanted to share a recipe that I loved so much, I ended up dipping into my coveted stash of American flour to test this out again, and it came out beautifully, although I made a few modifications noted in the recipe. One thing that people often forget is that recipes can vary based on ingredients. A high-percentage chocolate might be dry due to less cocoa butter, and more cacao beans, or your water may be wetter than the water in France. You just never know.

Chocolate Babka recipe

The icing on the cake is the syrup on the babka. It takes this cake/bread (also known as a kranz) to a whole other level of moist goodness. So no matter how wet your water is, the syrup will assure that everything gets a nice soaking from the honey-spiked syrup.

Chocolate Babka recipe

I am anxious to get back to London, now that my knee got fixed and I am no longer confined to my sofa, so I can have a meal at Honey & Co., until I can convince them to open closer to me. In the meantime, I’m eyeing those chocolate and pistachio cookies, and a few other goodies from their baking book.

Chocolate Babka recipe

Chocolate Babka
One 9-inch (23cm) loaf

Adapted from Honey & Co. Baking Book by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich

I used leftover cookie bits in the babka which dialed up the chocolate flavor beautifully, but you can omit them. (The recipe is the Chocolate Wafer Cookies in Ready for Dessert.) Or if you are on a nut-free diet, you can omit the nuts and just use the cookie (or brownie) bits.

This can, of course, be made by hand without a stand mixer. Simply mix the ingredients for the dough in a mixer bowl, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead until smooth. One interesting variation I saw was using spelt flour in this adaptation of the same recipe: Cinnamon and Walnut Babka.

The original recipe said to chill the dough after the initial mixing, after step 3, for at least 6 hours, or overnight. I made it several ways – including once rolling it out right away, and it worked fine without the overnight in the refrigerator. But usually doughs like this improve if left to rest overnight, so if you can wait that long, I’d do that.

Babka dough

2 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 3/4 ounce (20g) fresh yeast
Scant 1/2 cup (100g) whole or lowfat milk, very slightly warmed
1 teaspoon sugar
3 ounces (90g, 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour

 

Chocolate filling

  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g, 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces (80g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped - (the authors recommend one that's 70% cacao mass)
  • 5 tablespoons (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (65g) toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped
  • optional: 1/2 cup (65g) crumbled brownie or chocolate wafer cookie bits

 

Syrup

1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/2 cup (125m) water
1 tablespoon honey

 

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yeast with milk and sugar and 1/3 cup (40g) of the flour. Let rest until small bubbles appear and break the surface, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. With the mixer fitted with the dough hook, on low speed, mix in the 3 ounces butter then the egg and salt. Gradually add the flour until it’s incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes.

(Note: The original recipe called for an additional 1/4 cup (35g) of flour. When I used that amount, my dough became quite stiff, so I reduced it to the amount here. If your dough seems too soft and is sticking considerably to the sides of the mixer bowl after kneading, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away from the sides. The original recipe called for a total of 330 grams of “strong white wheat flour,” which is about 2 1/4 cups.)

3. Either cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and refrigerate the dough for 6 hours, or overnight, or roll out in the next step.

(Note: I found the dough firm enough to roll right away, but it may be easier to roll if you refrigerate it. And often bread benefits from a leisurely rise, so if you can spare the time, I recommend it.)

4. Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom and up the sides with a piece of parchment paper overhanging the two long sides, which will help you remove the baked babka later.

5. To make the filling, melt the 3 1/2 ounces of butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved or almost completely dissolved. (It’s okay if there are grains of sugar visible – they’ll melt later.) Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough (chilled or at room temperature) to a rectangle 12 x 20-inches (30 x 50cm). If the dough contracts and resists when rolling it, roll it out partially into a rectangle, let it sit 5 to 10 minutes, then continue to roll it out to the final dimensions once it’s relaxed.

7. Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the rectangle all the way to the edges. Strew the nuts and cookie or brownie bits (if using) over the chocolate. Starting at one of the long ends of the rectangle, roll up the dough tightly so you have a log that’s 20 inches (50cm) long.

8. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough completely in half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, overlap the end of one cut half over the other (with the cut sides still facing up), then take the other cut half and fold it over the other, making sure the cut sides are always facing up.

Continue making a rope-like formation (check the photos in the post) overlapping and twisting the two halves of the dough together until the dough into one big twist. Any nuts or filling that have fallen out, toss into the bottom of the loaf pan.

9. Lift the twisted loaf and squidge it into the prepared loaf pan by pushing in on the two ends, so it fits in nicely.

10. Put the loaf pan in a very warm place, such as near a radiator or in an oven that has a pilot light, and let rise for about two hours, until it’s puffy and almost doubled in size.

11. While the dough is rising, make the syrup by bringing the water, sugar, and honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Let boil for 4 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface with a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

12. Fifteen minutes before you bake the babka, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Bake the babka on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center (in a part where there is less chocolate filling), comes out clean of dough. There may be some bits of chocolate clinging to it, which are normal.

13. Remove the babka from the oven and spoon or brush the room temperature syrup over the babka and let cool completely before lifting the babka out. Do not try to remove it or slice it while it’s warm, or it will break.

Serve the babka sliced. It will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature or can be frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped.

 

Related Posts and Recipes

Baking Ingredients and Substitutions

French Sugars

Ingredients for American Baking in Paris

Chocolate FAQs

Cocoa Powder FAQs

Salty, Deep-Dark Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch

 

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75 comments

  • Arturo
    February 9, 2016 8:09am

    Fantastic pictures!!! really looks great- want to dive right in and try it

  • Sarah
    February 9, 2016 8:57am

    Gorgeous loaf, and something to look forward to post-Lent (minus the syrup. Marvelous Middle-Eastern cuisine notwithstanding, I just don’t get soggy bread). Question: I keep seeing recipes for heavily chocolate-stuffed, extravagantly twisted confections called “babka. “Babka” for me growing up was always a plain spiral loaf with almond or poppy seed filling, made with a rich egg dough but nothing like this. Are we talking the difference between Polish babka and everyone-else babka, or is this just more evidence that my Polish grandma didn’t know what she was doing in the kitchen?

    • February 9, 2016 9:10am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know the etymology of the bread/loaf terminology, but since many of these kinds of recipes have crossed borders, cultures and generations, I think the nomenclature changes depending on where you are. The Honey & Co. Baking Book calls them yeast cakes and explains some of the differences in shapes and fillings.

  • February 9, 2016 9:12am

    … chocolate wafer cookies in babka? this is 1% crazy, 99% i need this right now, goodness i’m salivating!

  • Nadia@maisontravers
    February 9, 2016 9:28am

    Gosh! That is one appetizing babka. I can almost taste and smell it. Magnificent photography.

  • Avi L-S
    February 9, 2016 10:12am

    Not entirely sure of the difference between krantz cakes and babka, but Ottolenghi’s recipe for a chocolate krantz in the Jerusalem cookbook is absolutely wonderful. This looks great and I can’t wait to try it!

  • Christopher
    February 9, 2016 10:46am

    I do hope Paris and London haven’t become separated by the Atlantic because we’re coming to Taillevent for a big birthday next month, and that would give us some difficulties :)

    Honey & Co is superb – I’ve only managed to go once, as being so tiny it seems very hard to get a table. Their deconstructed cheesecake is the stuff of one’s dreams……

    Fixed! – dl

  • February 9, 2016 11:24am

    Can’t quite understand why I haven’t made chocolate babka yet… it is mind boggling to look at!
    I’ve been using crumbs in the rugelach filling forever. The first (and only) recipe I made is from N. Silverton and they are listed in the ingredients. Now I even use crumbs instead of flour when I grease and ‘flour’ a pan.
    Question: do you have an update for the kindle version of My Paris Kitchen? I just saw the errata post you wrote but don’t see the update button on my amazon list. Just wondering, no big deal. Thanks

  • Richard
    February 9, 2016 12:37pm

    Fog in the Channel, continent cut off… capital C please to really fix it.

    • February 9, 2016 12:59pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sorry for not getting it right the first, or second, time. I’m still recovering from my surgery and on medication, but wanted to get a post and recipe up to share. But I should have waited a few more days until I was fully back on my feet – and back in my head. Apologies for the oversight(s).

  • February 9, 2016 12:39pm

    Growing up in Israel, babka has always been one of my favourite foods. It’s so much moister and richer than rugelach, and its old-world charm somehow seemed all the greater. It looks like you did this classic proud in your rendition! And I just love that phrase, “your water may be wetter than the water in France.” I never would have thought…!

  • February 9, 2016 1:42pm

    Honey&Co is the most fantastic place (and also one of the smallest!). So enjoyed having lunch there on a recent trek to London. And both of their books are extraordinary. KEEP BEGGING THEM TO COME TO PARIS!!

  • Kit
    February 9, 2016 3:23pm

    So sorry about your knee, David! I hope you’re fully recovered soon. The babka looks delicious. I enjoy a babka with texture. Great for an occasional breakfast treat with coffee. I don’t know how you’ve managed to continue to supply us with beautiful pictures, recipes and stories through the months of your knee ordeal. Thank you!

  • February 9, 2016 4:10pm

    prettiest babka i’ve ever seen! I’ve been wanting to try to make it but I’m a bit intimidated. It looks so lovely though I think I need to try!

  • Minnesota Red
    February 9, 2016 4:29pm

    Hello from snowy Minnesota! You would never know you were out with the knee with all these fantastic posts! I’d like to throw some booze in the syrup, à la rum baba; is rum a good choice or should I even be messing with this in that way?

  • February 9, 2016 4:38pm
    David Lebovitz

    Faith: I think a Middle Eastern place like Honey & Co would do really well in Paris. But someone else could do it. The ingredients are all here due to a large Middle Eastern population.

    Minnesota Red (and Kit): It was hard (and frustrating) not being able to walk much, but I’m happy to be on the mend and hope to be back up and running – maybe literally…shortly. And yes, you could add some rum to the syrup but I wouldn’t overdo it. Enjoy!

  • February 9, 2016 5:22pm

    While there are certainly days I make a de facto attempt to live on peanut M&Ms alone, this definitely disabuses me of the notion — the idea of cookie or brownie crumbs is sterling. And such a gorgeous twist!

  • February 9, 2016 5:35pm

    Chocolate babka seems to be having a real moment right now so I hopped on the bandwagon myself and have been experimenting with different recipes. But I have to admit, I just can’t get super excited by the results. I haven’t tried the Honey & Co. version yet- their baking book recipes have been awesome thus far. I’ll give it a whirl, but I think I’m still more of a poppyseed or sweet cheese babka gal. We’ll see!

  • Nikki
    February 9, 2016 5:39pm

    Thank you..I think.
    First I am right with you “failures” are never failures but re purposed into something new and delicious.
    Now for the Babka..it has been on my list of things to try to make. Along with a Kouign-amann aka Breton Butter Cake, croissants and a strudel. Now that I have this recipe I have no excuses. And the Kouign-amann/Breton Butter cake is how I first discovered your site So a double thank you is in order. Your photos should make this a bit easier to pull off.

  • Kay Q
    February 9, 2016 5:45pm

    David, I’m sorry you had to suffer with knee issues but glad you are on the mend! I hope your caregiver wasn’t a grouch. ~Kay~

  • Patricia
    February 9, 2016 5:53pm

    Hello David: You’re killing me with your recipes. I just made a batch of feta and cucumber salad and waiting for it to mellow before I dive into it. And now I just read the chocolate babka blog and know myself all too well, I will be stewing about it until I actually try this recipe. Once upon a time, there were bakers in a neighbourhood that I rarely visited but on only one occasion I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw their version of a chocolate babka. It was the most delicious concoction I have ever eaten. It was twisted dough as your recipe described but one part of the dough was totally chocolate and there was a mass made of walnut puree in there somewhere too. I have often thought fondly of this amazing bread but the bakers are long gone. They were engineers from Poland who were not able to find work as engineers and decided to make bread instead. What a great decision!

    Thank you for your delicious blog instalments. I enjoy every single one of them.

  • Shell
    February 9, 2016 5:54pm

    Best wishes for a full knees-up recovery.

    That babka looks amazing. You mentioned the soft French flour. If you didn’t have a stash of American flour on hand, would you mix in a little bread flour to compensate?

    • February 9, 2016 6:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      I sometimes used bread flour here in France but Type65 French flour is close to American flour. Since this recipe called for “strong white flour” I would say that’s what American white flour is and sometimes I’ll add a couple of teaspoons of vital wheat gluten that I get at the natural food store, to Type 65 to more closely replicate it.

  • Violette kogut
    February 9, 2016 5:56pm

    Babka is a Polish sort of brioche,it is most and wonderful with butter and honey. I make it at Easter .
    I cannot see chocolate in a babka….I am a Parisian living in the States,often amused by the comments of some.
    I find it etrange that your readers go crazy over some recipes.
    After all the year inParis ,parlez vous français?
    I love to read your lettres
    Violette kogut

  • February 9, 2016 6:00pm

    Oh David that’s beauatiful@!!! You should be so proud of yourself!

    I love chocolate babka and grew up eating it. Now the only time I get to enjoy it is when I stop by my 94 year old moms house and she has one that she just picked up at the deli. We all know they don’t last long. I’ve never tried to make one but now after seeing yours I’ll have to try.

    I did make this beautiful fresh blueberry brioche that I found in Zoe Nathan’s Huckleberry cookbook. I was so impressed with the results I still can’t believe I made it. I’m still so proud of it 6 months later, as you too should be of your masterpiece! Here’s the link to mine, I hope it’s ok to share that with you here: http://www.vickibensinger.com/2015/08/fresh-blueberry-brioche.html

  • Susan
    February 9, 2016 6:01pm

    Fascinated by this yeast cake and loved the photos. I was anxiously reading the recipe to discover by what complicated method you arrange the 20″ dough in the 9″ pan. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I got to the part about “squidging” the dough. I think can do that!

  • Za Hussain
    February 9, 2016 6:12pm

    Beautiful, beautiful Babka.
    Middle-Eastern cuisine under-represented here in Paris? Really? Maybe there are no places quite reaching Ottolenghi and others in London in terms of fame, and I am going to stick my neck out here, but are places like Liza or even Noura not up to scratch? Also there are several great Lebanese and Iranian eat-in epiceries and market stands in the 15th and 7th districts – Le delice d’orient for example, and an Armenian dude/Buster Keaton look-alike, running an amazing stall at Marche Saxe-Breteuil (7th) – everything, from his tarama, hummus, roasted eggplant caviar to the desserts, all home-made, everything delicious! And these are just the ones I’m familiar with in my neck of the woods here and I imagine there must be many others out there. I guess I never thought we in Paris were deprived of Middle-Eastern food compared to London. I do agree though that I have never seen a babka like that in Paris, and if a place set up shop selling those things, I’m there!

    • February 9, 2016 6:24pm
      David Lebovitz

      There are plenty of places, but most are stands or kiosk-style restaurants. Many of those places, if not all (at least that I’ve been to) used very “standard” ingredients (ie: not great olive oil, out-of-season tomatoes, pre-bought moutabal, etc) so the food doesn’t have the freshness and vibrancy that it has in the Middle East, or when I ate at Ottolenghi or recently at Ilili, in New York. There’s a notable Lebanese place in the 5th that I keep trying, thinking it’ll be good, but it continues to me to be just passable.

      Maoz falafel, I think, comes the closest to the falafel that I’ve had in the Middle East – they fry them to order and have all the salads…and four kinds of hot sauce! And Miznon is good, too. (The last falafel I had on the rue de Rosier was so bad I tossed it out. The bread was soggy and the falafels were blah.) I like Mazeh for Iranian, but suspect the food in Iran is better. (That’s on my list of places to visit!) Some have told me there are good Lebanese places out in the 16th because there is a middle and upper class of Lebanese people out there but I don’t know any addresses. I just think there could be some very good Middle Eastern places here in Paris that use great olive oil and other ingredients and attract an audience. Sounds like we’d be good customers! : )

  • Rachel
    February 9, 2016 6:14pm

    Babka is definitely having a moment now.I never liked it as a kid, it always seemed too dry, but then I rediscovered it in Israel last year. Both poppy and chocolate babka were a staple on the breakfast table at every hotel where I stayed. Since I returned, I discovered Ottolenghi
    s chocolate krantz cake. I also make poppy seed babka using this recipe http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/food/recipes-breads-pastries-and-sweets/modern-manna-recipe-poppy-seed-babka-1.417304 and a lemon infused syrup a la Ottolenghi.

  • Peter
    February 9, 2016 6:25pm

    Hi David- Same question as Susan. I can see a certain amount of squidging but can’t see getting from 20″ to 9″. Did I miss a twist or a twangle before the squidge? Thanks.

  • February 9, 2016 6:39pm
    David Lebovitz

    Peter and Susan: The long “rope” is twisted, which shortens it. Then, once it’s completely twisted, you push on both ends to get it to the size that it’ll fit into the pan. (In the 3rd to last photo.) The dough is pretty pliable and forgiving and I didn’t have any trouble getting it in.

  • February 9, 2016 6:43pm

    Never had it…this looks fabulous, and great pictures! Much more sophisticated then the simple choc. evoo cake I just made!

  • GARY STOTSKY
    February 9, 2016 7:11pm

    Well David with your Jewish heritage I am surprise you have not know the procedure you use is called Russinstrope. And yes it yields the Babka look. I will make them for Purim with poppyseed filling.

  • Stephanie
    February 9, 2016 7:34pm

    I picked up the Jerusalem cookbook awhile ago and they have a Krantz bread in there too. I’ve wanted to make it forever. You make a good poin about flours though and I’ve noticed that canadian flour alters American and European recipes … it might require a few trials.. eating the results will be fun.

  • Mimi
    February 9, 2016 7:43pm

    can’t wait to try this! I made your pretzel bites for Super bowl sunday and my friends LOVED it!

  • February 9, 2016 8:02pm

    ‘Or your water may be wetter than the water in France’ – I just giggled out loud in a bus.

    The babka looks mouthwateringly good – I’m putting this recipe on my to do list! Looking forward to compare the wetness of the Dutch water – I’ve been told it’s even wetter than usual.

  • carolina
    February 9, 2016 8:11pm

    This morning I opened my email and the only thing my eyes were able to read was ” Chocolate Babka” . And then my heart stopped. Then it started beating again really fast and I ceremoniously sat down to read this post. I married a New York Jewish man and was introduced to Babka from Moishes Bakery (east Village NY) . My life forever changed. I havent baked it for fear of not doing it right. I am intimidated . I admit it. Breaking into a Jewish crew especially on the food side takes courage, especially as a nonjewish person. But I trust you and your recipe posts so much , this is the day that babka will be baked in my house.

  • George Thompson
    February 9, 2016 8:39pm

    Babka is so crazy hot now. We made B A version last weekend – can’t wait to try yours!

  • Angharad
    February 9, 2016 8:56pm

    I hope your knee is still on the mend. Both my son (young-ish) and my husband (old-ish) had knee surgery and had a new lease on life. Slow and steady wins the race, behave yourself in the first few weeks and you’ll soon be as good as new. While recuperating I spoiled them with Marie Helene’s French Apple cake.

  • February 9, 2016 9:20pm

    I just got that book too;love it! and your pictures of course…

  • Audrey
    February 9, 2016 10:00pm

    I love you

  • February 9, 2016 10:16pm

    you just might get your rugelach recipe soon enough, david! there have been a few sneak peeks flowing around on instagram showing the photoshoots from Uri Scheft’s upcoming cookbook:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/-uUZZTl7h7/?taken-by=urischeft

    • February 10, 2016 9:07am
      David Lebovitz

      Ah…now I know why he never shared the recipe: he has a book coming out! : )

      I’m sure it’ll be great. Thanks for sharing the preview…

  • John
    February 9, 2016 10:27pm

    Canadian bread flour is readily available in England, but I’m not sure how different it would be to the American flour you’re hoarding. Some may now be blended with “strong” flour (probably UK grown, it has imporved over the decades). The main upper market supermarkets stock it for sure.

    My mother used to make bread with live yeast (used to be readily available, but not these days) and white Canadian bread flour. I was always given strict instructions on what to buy (I passed the shop every day going to/from school). It was the best bread I’d ever tasted in my childhood. Maybe ever (biased comment).

    Meanwhile my attempts at making breads I’ d found on continental visits were hampered not only by the books being in French/German, (I still purchased them) but lack of continental flours available in England. Grahammeal, for example.

  • Debbie
    February 9, 2016 11:12pm

    “You really can’t beat a babka!” I can’t be the only one who thought this while looking at this beautiful recipe and photos!

    “The Dinner Party”‘ Seinfeld

  • Lyn
    February 10, 2016 1:33am

    Could you use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers like you mentioned awhile back?

  • Sarahb1313
    February 10, 2016 3:19am

    I can’t wait to try this one! Smitten Deb’s version was so incredible that when I make it I have to double the recipe so there is the immediate snacking in addition to the one I am giving! I am facinated by the cookies!
    Glad to see more baking recipes for this long winter!

    I’ve got pretty wet water here too, even without the Percocet ;-))
    Happy recovery!

  • Gavrielle
    February 10, 2016 11:30am

    As it happens, I’m looking after someone this weekend who will just have had knee surgery, so I will definitely be cheering them (and me) up with this unbelievably delicious-looking babka. Happy knee healing all round! And thank you, David, for heroically getting this recipe out while under the influence of heavy-duty drugs.

  • Dana
    February 10, 2016 1:35pm

    Hi David. Your flour comments make me want more. I have been a cookie failure in the mom dept for 15 years. (But I make killer Mac and cheese from scratch.) They always spread and I’m beginning to think its the flour. Could you do a longer post on just flour? Maybe flours should be listed in recipes by their protein content? How do I know one all-purpose isn’t wildly harder or softer than another? To top it off, I purchase my flour in bulk from a food co-op so I’ve always wondered if my cookie problem is my ‘non-commercial’ flour.

    Or, do you know a great resource out there that (simply!) walks through flours by protein content and their best uses??

    • February 10, 2016 1:47pm
      David Lebovitz

      Unfortunately the answers aren’t so cut and dried. Flour isn’t just protein content, but milling technique and strains of wheat are involved. And even all-purpose flours differ: King Arthur Flour is stronger than standard supermarket brands. Here’s a formulary you can use to determine the protein content of flour, but it’s a very technical subject and even expert bakers are baffled at some of the differences. One of the best books on understanding bread is the outstanding Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas, the French head of the San Francisco Baking Institute, and co-owner of the great b. pâtisserie in San Francisco. He’s an expert on all things flour and bread-related and the book is packed with technical information.

  • Tom Alberti
    February 10, 2016 5:01pm

    Hey David, I’m from Tel Aviv, just let me know the baker’s name, and I’ll ask him for the Rugelach recipe, for you, If you’d like.
    It will be my pleasure.
    As for the Babka, I have a serious “yeast dough phobia”, since I’ve never managed to get it right…any tips?

  • February 10, 2016 5:08pm

    I really want to go to Honey & Co too, not to mention Ottolenghi and Nopi!

    Itamar appears regularly on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet. It’s a brilliant show and he always has some delicious suggestions for recipes.

    Also he has such a lovely accent!

    This babka looks divine and I really need to try making one of these.

  • February 10, 2016 5:17pm

    Brownie bits in rugelach?? I’ve just died and gone to heaven! Who would’ve thought?

  • February 10, 2016 5:27pm

    The pic looks so tempting that I feel like it the pic itself :-)). A must try. It looks o heavenly and soul-soothing!

  • February 10, 2016 7:03pm

    I believe with all my heart that the next major food trend has just been born. Cookie and brownie crumbs in EVERYTHING. I am obsessed with the brownie bit rugulech idea.

    David, your babka looks divine. I have been making and testing and learning about babkas for the last six months or so. Yours is the next recipe I try!

    Glad the knee is better and you are up and around again. Continued good health!

  • Bebe
    February 11, 2016 2:06am

    It will keep for 4 days? Ha. Not when I feel a need to keep testing, taking bits to make sure it is still OK. :-)

    Sounds absolutely delicious. I have never had babka. More chocolate heaven…

    Get well soon…

  • rainey
    February 11, 2016 3:00am

    Sooooooo not fair!

    I’m on a fasting diet and I dare not bake this no matter how much I want to.

    I have a couple chocolate babka recipes that I’m perfectly happy with but I’m dying to try the genius trick of using chocolate *crumbs*. And the syrup sounds decadent too.

    I have always thought rugelach really is best with nuts and cinnamon but I think some chocolate crumbs might find their way into some future batch as well. None of the messiness of chocolate but all the flavor nonetheless. Genius!

  • February 11, 2016 3:37pm

    Made it as soon as I read the post with some leftover chocolate wafer cookies I had from another project. It tastes delicious (!) but I think i over-stuffed it in my attempts to put all the leftovers to use. My sides kept falling down and it was a huge mess. But after some funny “nailed it” snaps, I shoved the whole mess in a loaf pan, and we’ve almost polished it all off in a day. :)

  • Elisavet
    February 12, 2016 4:50am

    Hi David! I looked for the Chocolate Wafer Cookies recipe in “Ready for Dessert” but I didn’t find any in the index with this name neither in the cookies section of the book. could you please possibly add the page where the recipe can be found? Thank you!

    • February 12, 2016 6:01am
      David Lebovitz

      They’re the chocolate snaps on page 191 in the hardcover edition of Ready for Dessert. (I don’t have it handy, so the softcover page might be different – but it’s the chocolate snaps recipe) – enjoy!

  • February 12, 2016 5:34pm

    I’m off to Honey & Co tomorrow for brunch and I can’t wait. I was given the baking book for Christmas and have already made several things from it… this might be next on the list!

  • February 14, 2016 12:33pm

    This bread looks amazing. Making chocolate Babka is on my bucket list this year. Fingers crossed I can find time to make a loaf. These pictures certainly give me some extra motivation.

  • Debbie
    February 14, 2016 4:34pm

    The 30°F below zero weather is a good reason to make this… It’s now in a warm oven rising. No problem squidging it into the pan. Thank you for that term though- it was perfect as I was looking at my long beautiful log and my 9″ pan! I made Smitten Kitchen’s brownie tarts to crumble for this. David and Deb- it’s got to be out of this world good!

  • February 15, 2016 11:56am

    I made this last night. So delicious!!!! This recipe is definitely a keeper. (and a little bit for breakfast this morning proved it was not only good right out of the oven, but the next day too.)

  • Susie
    February 17, 2016 7:31pm

    David, I love reading your posts because I learn so much about technique and the science behind baking! (Plus I’m getting a virtual dessert just by looking at these pictures, which are stunning. :)) (You may recall that I blogged a review of My Paris Kitchen last year–I did the GF version of the buckwheat madeleines? I still make them all the time–I adore them! And the winter salad is my current go-to.)

    Glad your knee is better–can’t wait for the next post!

  • Nancy
    February 18, 2016 1:29pm

    Babka? Oh my! I am trying my hand at this recipe and have a question. Between mixing and refrigerating shouldn’t there be a rising of the dough? Did my ADD cause me to miss that step? I refrigerated overnight and it looks about the same size as when it went in to the fridge. Does it need a little warm up time? The yeast was all a bubble before I added the rest of the flour.

    • February 18, 2016 4:11pm
      David Lebovitz

      The rising of the dough happens in step #10, although many breads/doughs improve if given a second rising which happens here in the refrigerator. That rising often isn’t as dramatic and is meant to be slower, which develops flavor. They also said to work with chilled dough when rolling out it, to make it easier, which I did. (Although the first time I made it, I was able to roll the dough that was room temperature out, just after I mixed it up, just fine.)

  • Mike
    February 19, 2016 9:45pm

    That book looks terrific, but it doesn’t seem to have a US release. Do you happen to know if it’s coming out here sometime soon, or would I need to spring for the British version I’m seeing on Amazon?

  • February 20, 2016 8:34am

    Thanks for sharing your version of Honey & Co’s babka – I love the addition of the chocolate wafer cookie bits! It is also fascinating to read about your trials and tribulations using different kinds of flour. As a non-professional baker it can be easy to forget this – but reading about this made me remember when I first starting baking enriched doughs made with spelt flour and how much less structure the dough had (nothing I terribly mind – the flavour of spelt makes up for that for me) or how baking with khorasan always seems to yield a tougher crust, even with enriched doughs. Thank you also for linking back to my recipe – it totally made my day!

    • February 21, 2016 9:19am
      David Lebovitz

      You did a lovely job with the babka and it was nice to know that it works with spelt flour, which I like very much, although as you mentioned, there is a trade-off in some of the texture when you swap out flours with less-gluten. Happy to have found your beautiful blog! : )

  • Jessica
    February 20, 2016 6:52pm

    Made this last night, not for the faint of heart. I also used smitten kitchen’s brownie recipe for the “crumbs.” I think I rolled my dough too thin but the overall taste was amazing. My husband loved it with his coffee in the morning. The toasted almonds gave it a great crunch. Can you just live with me and bake me chocolate treats?

  • February 26, 2016 2:40pm

    You are so right about the underrepresentation of this cuisine in Paris, this is so sad! I’ve lived in London for five years and the one thing I miss most is Ottolenghi. Really. I have all their books and try to reproduce it at home but this is not the same. I even envisioned to write them emails to ask them to come over here! I am fully dedicated to the cause should you need help! Things are slowly changing, as we see a lot of middle-east eateries opening here and there, but no one matches Ottolenghi flavors and excitement. People are not very familiar here with this cuisine, it doesn’t resonate much unfortunately. We need to work on that!

  • Marc
    March 5, 2016 8:18pm

    David. I tried making this today — the final babka after I twisted it up was WAY too long to fit into the pan and i had to cut it in half. If it’s 20 inches long…how does it all fit in there?

    • March 5, 2016 10:36pm
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Marc: In step 9, I say to push the two ends of the babka inward, so that it fits into the pan. (I couldn’t take a snapshot of that step because I needed one hand to snap the shutter on the camera and that step requires both hands.) That compresses the braid so the 20-inch babka fits into a 9-inch pan.