A while back I posted some pictures of my first attempt at making Krantz Cake or Babka as it’s called here in NYC (and it’s really not a cake, but rather a sweet bread, but hey Yottam and Sami can call it what ever they like ;-)).
I promised to publish the recipe so here it finally is – along with my commentary and adaptation of the original recipe.
We are a family of chocolate fiends, so I never made it with the dried fruit and spice option (instead of chocolate and nuts you add cinnamon sugar, nuts and dried for candied fruits) Fruit and spice would be great if you didn’t live with Neil – or you were making it for tea with visiting British aunts….but for all other occasions chocolate wins out.
First off the original recipe calls for the “grated zest of small lemon” in the dough – which I dutifully added when I first made it even though it seemed strange to me to be adding lemon rind to what is essentially a chocolate dessert. In my second making of this Babka I omitted it and like the results much better. The first Krantz/Babka had a fruit cake flavor to it which was kind of strange tasting to me as it isn’t something I expect with chocolate.
If you make the dried fruit and spice sugar variation I’d think it would be a great addition, if you wanted to add peel to the chocolate version I’d go with Orange as it is more sympatico with Chocolate even though I don’t think you need it.
OK so let’s get started, here is my adapted version of Krantz Cake from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi’s wonderful: Jerusalem: A Cookbook
To make the dough:
Add to the bowl of a standing mixer: 4¼ cups all purpose flour, ½ cup sugar, 2 tsp (1 package) fast-rising active dry yeast (they ask for super fine sugar I used it first time and regular the second – I found no difference and given how expensive and hard to find super fine sugar is I wouldn’t bother).
(They suggest a dough hook to mix this – I found it less than useless – I tried both times on my old Kitchen Aid and it did nothing. So I used the paddle attachement until everything is added then switch to the hook).
Mix the dry ingredients until combined. Mix in ¼ tsp Salt.
Combine 3 Organic Extra-large Free-Range Eggs (I used Large eggs the second time and noticed no difference) and ½ cup (120ml) Water and slowly add them to the dry ingredients with the mixer on slow to medium speed.
Once the mixture has come together gradually add ⅔ cup unsalted room temperature butter, cut into small cubes add a few wait for them to be incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter is added is when I’d change to the dough hook. Work the dough for 10 minutes more on medium speed. When done the dough should be elastic and a little shiny.
Grease a clean bowl with a non- flavored oil like sunflower oil and add the dough, cover with a wet towel or a recycled plastic bag and put in the fridge over night.
Before you take the dough out for rolling make the chocolate filling:
Place a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a low simmer. In a metal bowl or other heat tolerante bowl add: 4½ ounces of 70% dark chocolate (I used Mast Brothers) roughly chopped along with ½ cup of Unsalted Butter, slowly melt over the hot water – stirring regularly to incorporate the butter and chocolate.
Sift ½ cup of organic Confectioner’s Sugar (non organic is made with GMO Corn ) and ⅓ cup of good quality Cocoa Powder.
Remove the melted butter chocolate mixture from the heat and stir in the sugar/cocoa mixture.
In a separate bowl roughly chop 1 cup Pecans.
This is the one place I use superfine sugar – but I make my own by placing 2 tablespoon Sugar into a food processor for about 30 seconds until it is well….you know, super fine.
Oil two loaf pans, I use parchment paperhanging over each edge which I also oil as well.Lightly flour a pastry marble, or whatever you roll out dough on. and take half the refrigerated dough and roll it out into a sheet that is about 15 x 11 inches (it’s very approximate). Slather half of the chocolate mixture on the rolled out dough leaving a 3/4″ boarder around the edge. Sprinkle half the chopped pecans and 1 Tablespoon of the sugar over the chocolate.
Lightly brush the top edge of the dough with water.
From the edge that is closest to you start to roll the dough. Once rolled trim each end by about 1″. Turn the log so the seem is face up and then cut lengthwise, you want two long halves which you are going to braid together. I’ve use both a serrated and sharp knife to do this and found the sharp knife more to my liking.…pinch the top of the two halves together and then start to braid – right over left left over right …when done pinch the bottom end and with an offset spatula place in the prepared pan. Cover with a damp towel.
Let rise anywhere from an hour to two – you want the dough to rise about anywhere from 10-20%.
Preheat the oven to 375 F and when ready bake for 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
While the loaves are baking make a sugar syrup by boiling 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 2/3 cups of water. Once the sugar has melted remove from the heat.