It is calling me.
The past year was difficult as many things that were supposed to happen didn’t, and well-that’s the way the cookie crumbles-so to speak.
Being Jewish I get the equivalent of two new years, and I really do try to make both count.
This year is all about starting over-once again- and I am grateful that I still get that chance.
It had been so long since I was there last, but the feeling that I felt the first and second time was identical to the third.
I felt at home. I felt energized. I felt loved.
Three very good feelings from someone who’d been feeling lost and lonely for a long time.
Now I am trying to regain those feelings as January gets started and I still don’t know what the year will bring.
The sense of smell I think is so underrated, but looking through this book- well, I could smell Jerusalem. I swear.
January is a cold month there, but upon entering the Old City, at least from the Jewish quarter, you are greeted with this intoxicating, addicting aroma of bakeries.
Whether they are making pita or bagels or burekas-it doesn’t really matter-because it’s all good.
The smell alone is enough to make you think you are home.
Walking by the bakeries and feeling the warm, steamy air gusting through the open doors, laden with the smell of chocolate and flour, makes me think that must be the scent of love.
Well, at least it is for me.
And so it is that I had to make this recipe.
A chocolate krantz cake. I always called it a babka of which I’ve made plenty.
This is better. Waaaaay better. And it smells like Jerusalem.
This is the aroma I was smelling.
I know it. This is the smell of love. This book is worth it for just this recipe and the hummus alone. I swear.
(Yes, I’ve been swearing way too much lately.) It takes me back to Jerusalem. Don’t I wish?
It is not hard and looks complicated but if you are familiar with bread you should not be afraid of this.
And if you aren’t familiar with yeast or the like, you really should start somewhere.
I googled krantz cake and still have no idea what krantz really means. Krantz is actually a German name for pastry.
Images showed rolled “cakes” with a filling.
No, I don’t really consider this a cake.
I consider this a bread, such as one might consider a cinnamon roll.
It is great with tea or coffee.
It is better in the middle of the night when you sneak into the kitchen, open the foil and cut yourself a slice, preferably when no one is looking.
And then you must gulp directly from the milk carton. (Don’t wear lipstick.)
It is perfect for brunch, but I wouldn’t serve it as a dessert after dinner.
But that is me.
Do use all the syrup.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen a recipe made like this.
They are not kidding. Use it. And it will keep for a few days, if well wrapped.
If of course, you can contain yourself for that long.
Need a Few More?
This moist chocolate babka or krantz cake is sublime!
4 1/4 c all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 c superfine sugar (This comes in a milk looking carton in the baking section)
2 t fast rising active dry yeast
1 t vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
1/2 c warm water
2/3 c unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small 3/4” cubes
Canola oil for greasing
Scant 1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/3 c cocoa
4 1/2 oz dark chocolate, melted
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c pecans or walnuts coarsely chopped (optional)
2 T superfine sugar
2/3 c water
1 1/4 c superfine sugar
For the dough:
Place flour, sugar, yeast in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed for one minute.
Add eggs, water and vanilla and mix on low speed for a few seconds. Then increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until the dough comes together.
Add the salt and start adding the butter a few cubes at a time, mixing until it is incorporated into the dough. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is completely smooth, elastic and shiny.
(A side note: Do not leave your mixer unattended. It was while I was making babka and stepped away during this process and my Grandma’s Kitchen Aid ended up on the floor still spinning with the bowl attached. This is how my tile floor ended up with a 2 inch hole in it. Needless to say, the Kitchen Aid still works fine. Yes, they are worth it. And this one must be over 41 years old, I’ m guessing.)
During the mixing, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times and throw a small amount of flour onto the sides so that the dough doesn’t stick.
Place the dough in a large bowl brushed with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
Mix together confectioners sugar, cocoa, chocolate and butter. You will get a spreadable paste.
Grease two 9×5 loaf pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Divide dough in half and keep one half covered. (I will tell you that my dough was very cold when I took it out of the fridge. I let it warm up before I started rolling it. You don’t want it to warm up too much as the butter will start to ooze out of it
but this made it easier for me to work with.)
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 x 11. Position the longest side closest to you. Cut off ends to make them even. Spread half the chocolate over the rectangle leaving a ¾ inch border all around. Sprinkle half the nuts on top of the chocolate, then sprinkle on half the superfine
Brush a bit of water along the long end furthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll starting from the side nearest you and ending at the long end. Press to seal the damp end and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the roll on the seam.
Trim the ends with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll in half lengthwise cutting through from the top to the bottom seam. You are essentially dividing the roll into two long even halves with the layers of dough and filling visible along each length. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat the process, but this time lift the left half over the right to create a simple two pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so you are left with the two halves intertwined showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the loaf into prepared pan. Cover the pan with a clean damp towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1/1/2 hours. It will only rise by 10-20 percent. Repeat for second cake.
Preheat oven to 375.
Remove the towels, place the cakes on the middle rack and bake about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. They should be golden colored.
important-inhale the aroma. That, my friends, is Jerusalem in January.
Keywords: krantz cake, chocolate babka