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Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka and Jerusalem


 It has
been almost a year since I’ve been in Jerusalem.
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.
But back
to Jerusalem.
Don’t I wish? 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



The end
of 2012 brought me the magnificent “Jerusalem”
cookbook and that was a good thing. The sense of smell I think is so under
rated, 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.
A Bakery (See the Jerusalem stone in the reflection?)
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?
A couple notes: Do exactly what the recipe says.
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. Like here. I googled krantz cake and still
have no idea what krantz really means. 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.
Chocolate Krantz
Cakes or Babka
Makes 2
Time to Make: About 1.5 hrs active
4 ¼ c all
purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting
½ c
superfine sugar (This comes in a milk looking carton in the baking section)
2t fast
rising active dry yeast
Grated zest
of 1 small lemon (I do not like lemon in baked goods. I added 1t of vanilla
extract and left the lemon out.)
3 extra
large eggs (I only had large eggs on hand so I used
those plus 1 extra yolk.)
½ c warm
2/3 c
unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small ¾” cubes
oil for greasing
Chocolate filling
Scant ½ c
confectioners sugar
1/3 c
4 ½ oz
dark chocolate, melted
½ c
unsalted butter, melted
1c pecans
coarsely chopped (I used walnuts and if you don’t like nuts just leave them out)
superfine sugar
2/3 c
1 ¼ c
superfine sugar
For the
dough: Place flour, sugar, yeast and zest (if you are using) in a stand mixer
with the dough hook and mix on low speed for one minute. Add eggs, water and
vanilla (if you are using) 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.
Filling: Mix together confectioners sugar,
cocoa, chocolate and butter. You will get a spreadable paste.
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 to 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 15×11. 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.
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
Make the
syrup while the cakes are in the oven. Heat water and sugar in microwave for
one minute. Stir. Do this again and maybe again until the sugar is dissolved. Let
this cool. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush all the syrup over
them. Use it all. Let the cakes cool until
they are just warm to the touch and remove from pans. If you can cool
completely before serving.


 Slice and serve. Tear and serve. Just devour it like
a hungry dog. You know you want to. But most
important-Inhale the aroma. That, my friends, is Jerusalem in January.


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Saturday 4th of January 2014

I read the Krantz cake receipe, it sounds lovely! By the way, Kranz (without a 't) is a German word and means 'wreath' or 'garland'.


Monday 14th of January 2013

Just do it! You won't be sorry. Thanks for writing.


Monday 14th of January 2013

I can see myself having this with coffee int he morning. So want this!


Wednesday 9th of January 2013

Yes she was...maybe she did not bake babkas in Ft.Collins?


Tuesday 8th of January 2013

Oh Meirav, you brought tears to my eyes. I don't remember Sarah's babkas, but I do remember Sarah. She was very special.