One of my favorite things about visiting Israel is visiting all the bakeries. It is truly a no carb left behind situation. What I think is particularly unique about Israeli baked goods is what would locally be called “yeast cakes”, or what is often referred to as Krantz or Babka cakes stateside. I recently got interested in the differences and origins of both, and found this article illuminating if you too find yourself curious! The gist is babka was originally made with leftover challah dough that got transformed into a somewhat dry and (in today’s standards) lackluster dessert. Krantz however also incorporates butter and syrup to make an all around sweeter, shinier, more exciting final product. Since, the lines have been blurred and many people now refer to them interchangeably.
This particular recipe is based off of Yotam Ottolenghi’s chocolate krantz cake recipe. I recently decided I should let my baking follow my taste buds and take a stab at the famed “yeast cake”. I think it was well worth it, and I think you might too!
Take care to notice this recipe requires a bit of planning - it is meant to rest refrigerated for at least half a day, and Ottolenghi suggests letting it rest overnight. I myself changed up the filling and syrup to suit my preferences from the original recipe, and you too can play around with fillings you like - crushed nuts, different types of chocolate, etc.
I hope you enjoy it, I sure did!
- 2 loaves, 10-12 slices each
- 12 hours
- 30 minutes
For the dough:
- 4 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 cup sugar (regular white)
- 2 tsp fast rising yeast
- zest of a grapefruit
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt (or 1/4 tsp regular fine table salt)
- 2/3 cup butter (150g) in room temp, cut into cubes
- Vegetable oil for greasing
- 1 cup Nutella
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- Juice of a grapefruit (at least 2/3 cup
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
Making the dough:
- Mix together all dry ingredients except salt in a stand mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment.
- Add eggs and water, mix on low until wetted, and then increase to medium speed for about 3 minutes until dough comes together.
- Add salt, and then butter, a few cubes at a time. Continue mixing for 10 minutes on medium speed until dough is elastic and shiny, pausing to scrape down and flour sides to prevent dough sticking.
- Place dough in a bowl brushed with oil, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in room temperature for 1-2 hours. Then leave in fridge for half a day/overnight.
~10 hours later
- Brush two loaf pans (~9x5) with oil and line with wax paper
- Prepare filling by melting butter and then whisking with Nutella until smooth
- Divide dough in half. Return one half to fridge.
- Roll out the remaining half into a rectangle ~11 x 15 on a floured surface.
- Spoon and spread filling over the rectangle, taking care to leave about an inch border.
- Tightly roll the dough long way, so that you end up with a roll ~15 inch long.
- Trim an inch off the ends.
- This is the messy bit: cut the roll length wise
- Twist the two halves around each other and place in a loaf pan and cover with a damp towel
- Repeat with the other half of the dough
- Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-1 1/2 hours
- Preheat over to 375F
- Uncover loaves and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- In the meantime, prepare your syrup by bringing grapefruit juice and sugar to a boil, then let the syrup cool until the cakes are done baking
- Once the cakes are done baking, immediately brush with syrup. Make sure to completely cover cake with syrup and a bit more - the syrup will infuse moisture into the cake
- Let the cakes cool down until cool enough to handle, then remove from pans to cool completely
- Serve and enjoy!
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