With Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) right around the corner, my genetic disposition for traditional fall sweets seems to be kicking in. Next Wednesday evening is the day that apples and honey are eaten to hopefully bring forth a sweet new year and people wish each other La Shanah Tova (a good year) around the world. Along with the healthy version of sweets, represented by the apples and honey, we have a traditional (very very unhealthy) cake which is often baked on Rosh Hashanah (as well as the rest of the year however) – Babka. And in particular…Chocolate Babka. The cake itself is Ukranian in origin, and not Jewish at all – it was made for Easter and filled with dried fruits. However, the large Jewish communities in the US happily adapted it to their needs and you can find this sugar bomb on many a Sunday brunch table. I’ve been pretty stressed out because of some work politics for the last week, so my body was screaming….”SUGAR! FAT! GO BAKE!” and I finally caved.
Actually quite simple although there are a few stages and some waiting involved because the cake is made with a yeast dough. I used this recipe. And now that I have tasted the results, I can swear by it. After the dough is mixed you let it rise for an hour and then punch it down and roll it out. You’ve made a chocolate filling (chopped chocolate, cinnamon and sugar, butter), and a streusal topping (more sugar, more butter, some flour) while the dough was proofing.
Roll out your dough to about a quarter inch and then take your egg wash (just an egg beaten with a bit of cream) and paint the dough with it. Sprinkle the chocolate filling over it, reserving about a half a cup, and then roll it up.
Next you loop the roll in half into a U shape, and then twist it and place it into your loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusal (i love those Yiddish words that I now understand because they are actually German) and reserved filling on top.
It has to rest again (just to kill us with anticipation) for about 20 minutes. Then pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes (convection oven, else 55 minutes) and bake it.
The smell of it will drive you a little crazy, but that’s ok.
And then you have to let it cool – this cake tastes much better when it is room temp, so don’t bother with slicing into it directly out of the oven (I tested this yesterday and I can tell you…wait…)
Next morning is the best. Have a slice for breakfast.
And then put on your jogging clothes and go sweat your sinning away.