Whenever I hear the word Babka I inevitably think of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine try to secure a chocolate babka. I remember watching that episode when it first aired, likely nearly 20 years ago (holy!), and not really knowing what a babka was to begin with. After watching the episode I admittedly was biased. I hoped my first babka would be a chocolate one and not the “lesser” cinnamon babka.

Years later while living in New York I finally got a chance to try a babka. At the time I worked for a well-known TV personality who was into food so we’d always get random food gifts sent to the office. One day I was absolutely delighted to find a babka and from Zabar’s nonetheless. AND it was chocolate. It was also pretty heavenly. For whatever reason I don’t think I ever had a babka again and it never occurred to me to make it myself.

For the uninitiated, a babka is an Eastern European yeast cake that is usually filled with a fruit filling or with a chocolate filling as per the Jewish tradition. The more Eastern European version is usually shaped kind of like a crown whereas the Jewish version is a long length of dough that has been twisted and baked in a loaf pan. The babka referred to on Seinfeld (and that I had from Zabar’s) is the Jewish variety.

On a recent weekend I was looking for a baking project. I wanted to make something fabulous but also wanted to try a new recipe. I pulled out my copy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and decided to make a babka. The recipe seemed pretty straightforward but new enough to me to make it exciting and keep me on my toes. I also happened to have most of what I needed on hand.

I’m not sure what it is these days but for some reason it’s a total crapshoot with me getting my dough to rise. I test my yeast and it proves to be active but then my dough never rises and it should. I think my kitchen might not be warm enough but of course I only remember this when I curse my dough. I ended up cheating a bit when I realized my dough wasn’t rising. I made a bit of a slurry with some more yeast and kneaded it into the dough. It made the dough a bit wetter but it worked! That was my only problem along the way. Well that and me trying not to eat all of the chocolate filling.

The results were BEYOND AMAZING. It was honestly something that didn’t seem homemade. The bread was buttery, substantial and yet still light. The filling was deliciously rich and chocolaty. And the streusel topping? Crunchy, sugary and delicious.

For the recipe click here.

The recipe makes three loaves but I only made one. I wish I had made all 3 and put the other two in the freezer because I would love to eat babka every day from here to eternity. I can’t say enough fabulous things about my babka so I will leave you with a video…

Tagged with:

16 Responses to Chocolate Babka

  1. Gillian says:

    That’s a beautiful looking babka Tonya- you never fail to impress me!

  2. max says:

    If your place is too cool for your dough to rise, try doing it in or on a warm oven. I usually pre-heat my oven to like 250 or something low-ish while I’m mixing the dough, and then turn it off and put the bowl on the open oven door to rise. It works like a charm.

  3. My Medifast says:

    Very nice looking babka! Really looks good.
    And thanks for the laugh with Seinfeld.

  4. Shirley says:

    I’ve eyed that very same recipe many times, and yours looks wonderful!
    I started to type a very similar tip about the oven and rising dough. I’ll also do that with my toaster oven, and put the dough bowl on a kitchen towel on top of the toaster oven. I think quality yeast may also make a difference — I like King Arthur Flour’s instant yeast.

  5. Rebecca says:

    This looks absolutely beautiful. My grandmother used to make a babka with walnuts and cinnamon. Thanks for posting, it looks terrific.

  6. Robyn says:

    looks amazing! love seinfeld, love this episode. the first time i saw a black and white cookie (in a florida grocery store – blah) i started laughing out loud.

  7. Seinfeld was the first thing I thought of when I saw the title! LOL I have never tried babka before but it looks tasty!

  8. Peggy says:

    That’s one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld! I can’t ever get enough of it!

    I definitely love your babka! That swirl looks fantastic! =)

  9. Just posted a babka — that looks remarkably similar to yours — and cross posted on Open Salon. Yup, everybody loves a good bapka… made famous on Seinfeld. Looking for a simpler recipe than the one I followed and augmented (from Smitten Kitchen.) Will check out your link.

  10. Love Babka. Recipe and photos are great, and the Seinfeld clip.. well pure genius. Thanks

  11. Alright Tonya, you’ve inspired me. I’m going to give it a try this weekend. I’ll enjoy sharing the history and origins of “The Babka” with my family. I’m sure they have no prior knowledge. I love trying new things, especially from other cultures. I’m with you on the chocolate version. I’m a chocolate fanatic, so I will not even consider making the cinnamon version. I’ll use your chocolate Babka recipe.

  12. aga says:

    babka is a polish word :) we usually bake it for easter. but the original recipe is a little bit different than yours. :)
    check this: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_wielkanocna

  13. Allison says:

    I saw this on the foodbuzz daily special and just about diedddd…..your bread TOTALLY looks better than the Pepperidge Farms swirly bread. I think I’m in love. Hahahah, thanks for the great Seinfeld clip as well.

  14. […] Streusel Topped Chocolate Babka (from What’s On My Plate) […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.