If you have never tried Babka my heart aches for all those lost years that you can never recapture. Perhaps for you Babka is just a punch line from Seinfeld.
Babka is a sweet yeasted bread dough that is rolled into a large rectangle, brushed with melted “butter” and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon, cocoa and brown sugar and then rolled up and coiled into a bundt pan. Once your golden sweet bread is out of the oven, drizzle it with orange glaze and feed the hordes that have gathered silently in your kitchen, drawn by the fragrant smells of cocoa, yeast, vanilla, orange and cinnamon.
It is time to put regrets behind us and make Babka, the best freaking Babka on this planet, except for the one your grandmother made, and never wrote down the recipe for.
Berta Kosatzky brought a babka, and the moment Boris Lemkin saw it he grabbed it and ate half of it, hollering that only saints in Paradise were served such delicacies.
Babka comes to me in flashes when I am baking. I see my Grandma Eva’s short fat fingers working the dough in her all pink kitchen. If there was anyone who expressed herself through food it was her: pregnant at 16, three boys by 18. A handful of flour, a splash of vanilla extract, a coffee cup of sugar; food was the song that flowed from her heart.
I remember the day I picked my dad up from an operation and handed him a huge wedge of freshly baked Babka. He tore into it, snuffling that it tasted just like his mom’s. High praise.
I also flash to my Mother-in-law’s sparse Kibbutz living-room where the whole family gathered on folding chairs each Shabbat to eat her fragrant cinnamon chocolate babka, drink Nescafe, reconnect and generally ruin their appetites for dinner.
“People love cinnamon. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, “Oh this is so good, what’s in it?” The answer invariably comes back, “Cinnamon.” “Cinnamon.” Again and again. Lesser babka?? I think not.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
Please share with me any Babka related memories. I am all ears.
Good things come to those who wait. While you wait; smell the delicate fragrance of rising sweet dough that fill your house like vanilla sunlight.
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1 cup vanilla soy milk or creamer vegan
- 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 ounces aquafaba
- 2 tsp flax seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- zest from one orange optional
- zest from one lemon optional
- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1 cup vegan butter melted
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp melted butter for brushing on the dough
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice fresh
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk all of the ingredient together until you have a smooth lump free glaze. If you want a thicker glaze add more confectioner's sugar. Only drizzle on the cake once the cake has cooled.
Warm your soy milk till just warmer than body temperature, pour into a large bowl and sprinkle your yeast over the top. Stir. Allow to rest 5 minutes.
Pour 2 cups of your flour into the soy milk and whisk until blended. Stir in the orange and lemon zest if using.
Place aquafaba, flax seed, vanilla extract, cream cheese, sugar, salt and melted butter in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour the blender contents into the bowl with the soy milk/yeast mixture and stir until combined.
Now add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time stirring well between additions. You will have a soft dough.
Knead on a floured board 6-8 minutes until you have an elastic dough that is shiny and smooth.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise, covered, for 1 hour in a warm spot.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured counter to a rectangle 10" by 17". Brush the dough with melted butter.
In a small bowl combine the cinnamon, cocoa and brown sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the rolled out dough.
Heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Roll up the dough starting from the wide end. Lightly oil a bundt pan and coil the dough roll, seam side up, around it. Overlap if you need to. Let rise 40 minutes. If you have too much dough to fit in your bundt pan then use the excess for cinnamon buns or a tiny freeform babka.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Pop it out of the bundt pan after 10 minutes and allow it to cool on the wire rack, flat side down.
Drizzle with Orange Glaze.