Babka is a sweet yeast cake that’s quite adaptable. According to King Arthur Flour and The New York Times, Babka (or Baba) is commonly served on Easter Sunday in many Eastern European countries and is typically baked in a fluted round tube pan. An Americanized Eastern European Jewish version, filled with cinnamon or chocolate and topped with streusel is more like a coffee cake. It’s often baked in a loaf pan and while it’s not a Chanukah dish, it’s often served at Chanukah.
How popular is Babka?
Melissa Feit, a baker and co-owner of New York-based Zucker Bakery, reports “Our [Chocolate] Babka has always been a bakery favorite, but it recently became more popular due to an article written about it on the Serious Eats blog. Since then, our production has greatly increased. We’ve talked about adding more varieties in the near future (possibly including Orange, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, etc.). As far as trends, the weekends become busy when people partake in brunches. And of course, holidays!”
And when both Chocolate and Cinnamon are in the Babka line-up, which is more popular?
At Greens & Ackermans, a bakery based in New York with online sales, Chocolate is the more popular Babka variety. Both the Chocolate and Cinnamon Babka are available in different sizes – ranging from a Mini to a Full-Size Loaf to an even larger Round Babka. And Greens is experimenting with new Babka flavors. An interesting trend relayed by Greens: Babka is becoming increasingly popular for corporate gifts.
How has Babka been gussied up?
New York-based Breads Bakery has won acclaim for its Chocolate Babka. What’s in it? Nutella and Chocolate Chips. Breads Bakery’s Uri Scheft said he likes taking classic pastries and putting his unique twist on them. For the Jewish New Year he adds apple to Babka. (Note: on the Jewish New Year, apples are often dipped in honey to symbolize the wish for a Happy New Year.) And around special holidays Uri has added other ingredients, such as halvah (a sweet confection made of crushed sesame seeds and honey) to Babka. (Also see the Dessert Surveillance posting on Breads Bakery.)
I’d love to see a Babka with White Chocolate, but then again I love White Chocolate!