If there is a darling of the kosher bakery, it is the beloved babka. Babka-a cross between a yeasted bread and coffee cake is typically baked in a loaf shape and with chocolate or cinnamon flavor “veining” throughout. It is rich and delicious with coffee, tea or a glass of milk for afternoon snack, dessert or breakfast.
Babka is a dessert full of soul and history. We can trace babka’s roots to Eastern Europe where the balaboostas (cooks) baked their family recipe for Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. Now, in the 2000’s, you will find babka in kosher bakeries and Jewish stores throughout Europe, Israel and the US. It is written about, talked about on TV and radio and is loved by both Jews and non-Jews alike.
At Challah Connection, babka is our customers’ favorite baked good (although rugelach, challah and black and whites are close seconds) and is a key ingredient in our most popular kosher gift baskets. Curious to understand what makes the babka so adored, we sent our customers a brief survey and found some interesting information:
Chocolate babka is without doubt, more popular than cinnamon babka. 64% of recipients prefer chocolate babka vs 36% who prefer cinnamon (remember Elaine on Seinfeld calling cinnamon the “lesser babka?)
When asked what they specifically love about babka, 69% of respondents cited the flavor while 33% stated texture and for another 31%, it’s a reminder of European ancestors.
When we asked our customers to share any additional thoughts, memories, cherished recipes or ideas about babka, we got some truly touching responses:
-“A lesser babka, I don’t think so : )”
-“Babka represents family and holidays”
-“Brings back the “Old Country”
-“Great college finals pick me up and reminder that no matter the outcome, we love you”
-“It’s always a crowd pleaser…even if someone didn’t grow up on Babka, it becomes a favorite”
-“Just like I used to have when my Mother bought it in the 50s and 60s YUM”
-“Kosher baked goods are so important”
-“babka is synonymous with shabbes cake and takes me back to summer camp days”
-“just the yummiest thing ever!”
-“the more butter and chocolate the better!” (note there is no butter in Challah Connection babka; it’s pareve/non dairy)
-“There is nothing better than my family standing around the kitchen and slowly eating the babka up while standing! No plates, no seats, no forks needed!”
-“Babka, like kugel, is quintessentially Eastern European Jewish”
-“Babka, for me, is a fusion of Jewish and Eastern European (former Soviet Union in my case). If made right it is not too sweet but just right with tea. And of course who can forget the babka that was so prominently featured on an episode of Seinfeld???”
-“I remember my grandma rolling out the dough on the kitchen table, and the smells that went thru the house”
-“Babka=Jewish. It symbolizes Bubbee and is a good Jewish staple that most people love. The cinnamon is also good but I find most people really like the chocolate ones.”
We find these quotes heartwarming and beautiful. Imagine that a simple baked good carries so much meaning and joy for so many people. We thank our customers for sharing their thoughts and also want to share that our non-Jewish friends also love babka and send it to their loved ones for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.