How to make the perfect babka

“Is the babka the new bagel?” wonders Ha’Aretz in view of the worldwide success of this braided brioche, a Jewish classic from Poland. A text and a recipe for a new episode of our weekly meeting, the Mail of recipes.

The American Jewish babka originated in Poland, where the word grandmother means “grandmother” or “old woman”. Non-Jewish babka is a kind of bun with a tall, simple shape and without any filling, baked in a kouglof mold. The Jewish babka is made with a simple, relatively low-fat brioche dough, which is filled and twisted into a twist.

In Israel, brioche strudels rose to prominence thanks to Hungarian bakeries and cafes that offered traditional versions filled with poppy seeds or cinnamon and raisins. These cakes have their roots in Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Polish and other Eastern European countries. They have become so popular that they can still be found in every cafe, bakery and supermarket in Israel.

But this delicious treat didn’t stop there. In recent years, a version of hefekranz, or German kranz, a braided bun shaped like a crown (kranz means “crown”), has appeared on the shelves of Israeli bakeries. In the Israeli version, the only thing left from the original German pastry is the braiding. The term “kranz” applies to any puff pastry brioche braided and filled with various fillings.

Puff pastry is a very rich pastry that combines the techniques of brioche dough and puff pastry. It takes a lot of time because you first have to make the brioche dough, then fold it several times, adding layers of cold butter. Today in Israel, we call “kranz” any plaited puff pastry but the real kranz are irrefutably rich, extremely tasty and keep their freshness longer thanks to all the butter they contain.

In order to make the job easier for amateur pastry chefs, chefs have developed recipes for obtaining a puff pastry rich in butter and without rolling. It is less crispy and light than the version


Vered Guttman

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