Adventures with a babka

By | May 29, 2011

The most complicated recipe in Gatherings, one of my two beloved cookbooks, is the chocolate babka. So naturally, I had to try it.

For several months, I just kept flipping whenever I came to its page. The directions required both a food processor and a hand-mixer, and until recently, I had neither. But last Sunday, as I sat on the couch planning my menu for the week (more on that in another post), I decided the time had come.

It was perfect, really. We were going to be eating out for one meal on Shabbos, so there’d be fewer things for me to cook on Friday. I also decided to make simpler-than-usual dishes for the at-home meal, so I could embark on Mission Babka with plenty of time.

Friday morning came, and I began. As I worked on it, I couldn’t get over how high-maintenance this babka was. Everything had to be just so: The water for the yeast mixture had to be warm, three tablespoons of margarine were supposed to be softened, and another three melted. The dough needed to be combined in the food processor, then kneaded by hand, then rolled in a greased bowl. And on and on and on.

I followed the directions perfectly, except for the streusel topping, when I replaced flour with the matazh cake meal still in my freezer from Pesach. I thought it wouldn’t make a difference, but it sure did. (Well, it was either that or the confectioner’s sugar I used, which was admittedly kind of old.)

Finally, finally, I pulled my babkas out of the oven and waited for them to cool so we could grab a pre-Shabbos taste.

Well, they were…okay. Not bad, not great, just…okay. Which is a big diappointment when you feel like you spent all day on the crazy things.

I sliced one up on a platter anyway, and stuck the second in the freezer. Since they taste more like bread than cake, I think they’d make an okay breakfast. (As you’ll see below, the recipe doesn’t call for much sugar. Is this not supposed to be sweet?)

I hope one of you has a better babka story. I’d love to hear it.


Laura on September 13, 2011 at 5:12 am.

Babka advice: when you make your big batch of challah dough, use some of the the challah dough (one loaf worth) to make babka (or monkey bread or danish strips). Roll it thin, spread it with oil and sprinkle over a mix of cooca and sugar (1 T cocoa to every 2 T sugar). Roll it up, twist and bake in a loaf pan. If you love your challah recipe, you will love your babka.


Tali Simon on September 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm.

Great advice, thank you! I haven’t attempted a babka since my first experiment, but the next time I make challah (after RH, at this point) I think I’ll reserve some dough and give this method a try. I use the challah recipe from the original Quick & Kosher, but I make it with 2/3 whole wheat flour. And yes, we love it.


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