A Delicious Little Project for You

With the holiday weekend approaching and me preparing for houseguests, having my house filled with good food has been at the forefront of my mind this week. So, between graduations, travel and work, I squeezed in some time to make babbka – one of my favorite coffee cakes. Also called chocolate krantz cake, this is a huge crowd pleaser, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Jerusalem cookeI found this recipe in Jerusalem – an amazing cookbook packed with more than 100 recipes that gather influences from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish cooks who live in the city. Written by two celebrated chefs who grew up on opposite sides of the divided city, this cookbook is definitely one you should add to your collection!

I chose this recipe because I wanted to have something that was an easy grab in the morning for breakfast, but could also be a quick, sweet snack. I had never made yeast bread before, but it really wasn’t that hard. Yes, there are a lot of directions, but don’t be scared by that. I promise this cake is worth the time and effort – your family and friends will LOVE it! Whether you’re also hosting guests or just looking for a little something different or special for your family, I guarantee this chocolate krantz cake will not disappoint!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Chocolate Krantz Cake

Yield: 2 loaves

Chocolate Krantz Cake


  • Ingredients
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp. fast-rising active dry yeast
  • grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 3 extra large free-range eggs
  • ½ cup water
  • rounded ¼ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (room temperature, cubed)
  • sunflower oil for greasing
  • Chocolate Filling
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (use high quality)
  • 4 ½ oz. dark chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup pecans (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp superfine sugar
  • Syrup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ¼ cups superfine sugar


  1. For the dough, place the flour, sugar, yeast and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute.
  2. Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until the dough comes together.
  3. Add the salt and then 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 smoother, elastic and shiny. (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 all of the dough leaves them.)
  4. Place the dough in a large bowl brushed with sunflower oil, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight.
  5. Grease two 2 ¼ loaf pans (9 by 4 inches) with some sunflower oil and line the bottom of each pan with a piece of waxed paper.
  6. Divide the dough in half and keep one half covered in the fridge.
  7. Make the filling by mixing together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate and butter. You will get a spreadable paste.
  8. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches.
  9. Trim the sides to make them event, then position the dough so that the long side is closest to you.
  10. Use an offset spatula to spread half of the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a ¾-inch border all around.
  11. Sprinkle half the pecan on top of the chocolate, then sprinkle over half the superfine sugar.
  12. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you.
  13. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other end.
  14. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.
  15. Trim about ¾-inch off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife.
  16. Use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long, even halves.
  17. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then braid/plait the two pieces together (lift the right half over the left half, then lift the left half over the right half, to create a simple, two-pronged plait).
  18. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top.
  19. Carefully lift the cake into the loaf pan.
  20. Cover the pan with a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 – 1 ½ hours. The cake will rise by 10-20 percent.
  21. Repeat the whole process to make the second cake.
  22. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the cakes have finished rising.
  23. Remove the tea towels, place the cakes on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  24. While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup.
  25. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  26. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and leave to cool down.
  27. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush all of the syrup over them. It is important to use all of the syrup.
  28. Leave the cakes until they are just warm, then remove them from the pans and let cool completely before serving.


  1. I’m a better baker than I am a cook, MB, and I am usually pretty willing to try new baking projects. This one scares me. But I’d like to give it a try. I do love Otto Lenghi, and I heard about this cookbook the other day on NPR and knew I wanted to look into it. You’re so adventurous. Have you ever made your own bagels or challah? I’ll bet you would be so successful at that! One day when I’m feeling very confident, I’m going to give the babbka a try!

  2. Patricia K

    Love this weeks blog as it made me remember when my mom was alive she used to make Babbka. Plus, you putting the recipe is awesome as my mom’s recipe has disappeared -whereabouts unknown. I am definitely going to try this. This has made me very happy.

  3. Happy Thursday Mary Beth…I’d like to try this recipe but have a few questions. What kind of chocolate filling do you use? Also, syrup? Is that maple syrup? What is a roulade? Thank you so much for your Plank post.

    • Mary Beth

      Thanks for reading, Lisa! Check out #7 and #25 in the list of instructions, those will tell you how to make both the chocolate filling and the syrup. And the ingredients are in the full list. Just to make it easier, here are the specifics on those two parts of the recipe.

      Chocolate Filling
      ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
      1/3 cup cocoa powder (use high quality)
      4 ½ oz. dark chocolate, melted
      ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
      1 cup pecans (coarsely chopped)
      2 tbsp superfine sugar

      You make the filling by mixing together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate and butter. (You will get a spreadable paste.)

      2/3 cup water
      ¼ cups superfine sugar

      To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat and bring to a boil.

      A roulade is just the rolled dough, with the chocolate filling inside. The picture on the far left, above the recipe, shows you what that looks like.

      Thanks again for reading!!

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