Babka: An Old World and NYC Jewish Delicacy


Cinnamon Babka Loaf : A delicious tasty Jewish treat!


Pretty. Simple. Sweet.

With the Covid Pandemic and all the tough times we’ve had adjusting to major disruptions and changes in our lives these past few years, it seems like a good time to bring back something really rich and tasty.

Because babka is absolutely one of the tastiest traditional ways that Jewish bakers have found to put cinnamon or chocolate into old-style Eastern European preparations, it's always worth revisiting.

We start the season off with our delicious cinnamon Babka (little grandmother). As the temperature starts to grow cooler, we’ll be rolling our (literally and figuratively) our Chocolate and Cinnamon Babkas for your holiday festivities.


Babka means little grandmother in Yiddish.

A babka is a sweet braided bread or cake which originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and Ukraine. It is popular in Israel (often referred to as simply a yeast cake) and in the Jewish diaspora, particularly, in the US cities where there are major Jewish populations, like New York City and Los Angeles.


There's a lot going on in our babka. We start with a rich, buttery yeast brioche dough (sweet), paint it with a cinnamon mixture, twist it up, and carefully place that work of art in the pan. The loaf is baked to a golden brown with a fragrant cinnamon-sugar top. Full flavor similar to a cinnamon  bun but not as sweet.


It started when Jews on Shabbat took leftover challah and twisted it with seeds and nuts, such as poppy seeds and walnuts. The word 'babka' means grandmother, referring to the grandmothers on Shabbat who made this out of the leftover challah. Chocolate wasn't added to babka until Jews arrived in New York.

Once the Jews were in the United States, they started to improvise and added chocolate and other variations.  TODAY in Israel, the chocolate used in Babka is famous all over the world, Elite chocolate.

One Version of the Story

 One theory says Babka is indigenous to Ukraine, where it was part of an ancient fertility symbol used in the matriarchal system once in place in the region. Historian and food writer Lesley Chamberlain believes that babka came up from Italy, brought by Queen Bona Sforza of Poland in the 16th century and developed into a Russified version of the typical Italian panettone.

In either case, the old forms of the babka were likely much larger, somewhere from the size of a modern day panettone on up to some a few feet high. The original name was likely "baba," meaning grandmother.


Another theory says that with the "modern era's" smaller sizes the name shifted to the diminutive, "babka," meaning "little grandmother." Some others say the tall shape they were made in resembles a grandmother's pleated skirts.

 As many folks today both swear by it and swoon for it, chocolate babka seems to have been a mid-century American Jewish invention. A very good one, mind you. But I doubt my great-grandparents would ever have conceived of it.



Come visit Holla Baking Website to order our old world Jewish home baked goodies, LOCAL ONLY: Las Cruces New Mexico and Sunland Park/El Paso

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