Seinfeld fans will no doubt remember the episode “The Dinner Party” which featured Jerry and Elaine choosing a hostess gift. They decide to take a chocolate babka to their hosts, but get beaten out of the last one at the bakery.
ELAINE: “You can’t beat a babka.”
JERRY: “That’s the last babka. They got the last babka.”
JERRY: Well, we’ve got to get the cinnamon.
ELAINE: “No, but they got the chocolate. We’ll be going in with a lesser babka.”
JERRY: “I beg your pardon? Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People love cinnamon…Lesser babka? I think not.”
And that is how many of us first heard about babka, a sweet yeast cake with fillings like chocolate, cinnamon, and walnut. In the twenty years since Seinfeld made babka a household word, I have yet to taste one. Until today.
I just finished an online Craftsy class, Artisan Bread Making with instructor Peter Reinhart. The last lesson had us learning how to make nonetheless than, chocolate babka! I was giddy. Peter’s method for making babka includes an overnight rest in the refrigerator for the dough. I could hardly wait to get up this morning to finish and bake the babka.
The babka dough is sweet and supple and the filling is rich with butter and partially melted chocolate chips.
After baking and cooling, the babka is drizzled with a vanilla glaze.
Was babka worth the twenty year wait? Yes. It was. And will still be tomorrow morning when I have a big slab for breakfast with a hot cup of black coffee? Yes. It will.
I owe Jerry and Elaine for the inspiration, and Peter Reinhart for the instruction. If you haven’t taken a Craftsy class you are missing out. If you haven’t taken one of Peter’s classes you are really missing out.
Two things that I learned about babka are:
1.) The dough really rises in the oven. The butter and chocolate oozes out and over the edge of the pan. Use a large enough loaf pan and put a baking tray under it on the bottom oven rack to catch the mess. I learned this lesson the hard way. You’re welcome.
2.) Babka on the second day is best after a brief 8-10 seconds in the microwave. It softens the filling a bit and warm up the bread just enough to freshen it.
I have too much respect for peter Reinhart to hijack his recipe. I can’t even say I “adapted” it because I followed it to the letter. I can tell you that the recipe is in his bestselling cookbook Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday or in his Craftsy class Artisan Bread Making by Peter Reinart.
Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this post. I paid for the class just like everyone else. The babka recipe alone was worth the price!