When I create a new pastry, it is very important for me to make a psychological connection to the pleasures of childhood, and in Israel, just about every schoolchild eats a lunchtime sandwich made with a chocolate spread. To tap into that taste memory, I use Nutella to give this babka its intensely chocolate taste. The croissant-like babka dough is loaded with Nutella and chocolate chips and then twisted into a loaf shape.
I first called this chocolate krantz cake, but in all honesty, that name didn’t effectively communicate the deep, ephemeral pleasure of biting into the wonderfully rich and deeply chocolaty pastry. We decided to call it chocolate babka instead, and within 3 months, our babka was selected by New York Magazine as the best in New York City. We went from selling a few dozen a day to a few hundred a day. It remains the most popular item at Breads Bakery, and we are very proud that our babka sparked a babka trend across the country.
Excerpted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2016. Photographs by Con Poulos. —Uri Scheft