Pareve Babka Cake
Whether you attended one of our Shuk and Cook workshops or are still dreaming of our favorite babka from Tel Aviv’s Dallal bakery, it’s hard to get this amazing cake off your mind. In its simplest form, babka is a traditional yeast cake originating in Eastern Europe. Ashkenazi Jewish tradition sees loaf pans and beautifully twisted or braided rolls in a high loaf pan, baked to perfection, with a crunchy top and soft, almost-melting inner layer of chocolate or cinnamon. Immigrants to Israel brought many foods along with them, and we are so glad this wonderfully simple cake is one of them. Like many other foods brought to Israel, babka has maintained its original taste in traditional bakeries, but has also been given new life with distinctly Middle Eastern fillings like rich, nutty halva. Traditional or “Israeli”, the choice is yours.
With this recipe, you’ll no longer be limited to missing Israeli babka or scouring your local bakery hoping for something that even comes close - the secrets of delicious babka is right here! This versatile dessert can be eaten for breakfast with a cup of coffee, after a family meal or on its own whenever the mood strikes. It is pareve (neither dairy nor meat, in accordance with Jewish dietary laws), so it can be enjoyed by diners avoiding lactose or after a meat meal. One thing is for sure - while babka keeps very well, this cake is too delicious to stay on the counter for very long.
200 g. of coconut cream + 1 tbsp. yeast
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
Water, as needed (approx. 2-3 tablespoons)
650 g. white flour (approx. 2½ cups)
1 tsp. salt
Spread of choice for filling: chocolate or halva
1 egg, beaten (for brushing the top of the cake)
To prepare the dough:
Place the coconut cream, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs and the oil. Once the eggs and oil are mixed, add the flour (at one time).
Mix until the dough forms a ball shape. If the dough feels too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time (as necessary) until the dough is sticky but comes together in a ball and the sides of the bowl are clean.
Add the salt and mix for 7 more minutes.
Let the dough rise for 1.5 to 2 hours at room temperature, or let it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Note: Another option is to freeze the dough and when ready to use defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Heat the oven to 160°C (320°F)
To prepare the babka:
On a floured surface, roll the dough with a rolling pin to 0.5 cm thickness (approximately the height of a cutting board) and spread the chocolate or halva across the surface of the dough.
Roll the dough to form a log, then cut the roll lengthwise with the help of a dough knife. Braid/twist the two sections of the dough.
Let the babka rise for 30 minutes, brush the egg on top of it and bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake is ready when you press and it springs back.
Photo credit: David Lebovitz