I was also in quest of a relatively healthy dessert and hit upon the idea of adding some cinnamon, agave syrup, and raisins to some of the whole wheat dough to make a babka type of cake. Peter Reinhart’s new book shows an interesting shaping technique, which he calls Israeli kranz cake babka (it is also spelled krantz).
The method is simple, but the resulting bread looks complex. Roll out the dough, fill it with your babka filling (I just used agave syrup, raisins, and cinnamon. Roll up the dough, as you would for cinnamon buns. Take the roll and slice it vertically (not horizontally the way that you would for cinnamon buns). Now you have two strips with the cross section of the inside revealed. Twist them around each other to make a rope, being careful to put the exposed cross section on the outside. Now your bread will bake with the filling exposed.
I glazed the bread with egg, for shine and to help protect the raisins (futile, they burned anyway). The only tricky thing to keep in mind is that the exposed filling is going to bake more than it would if it was hidden inside the bread. Exposed raisins tend to burn. Isprinkled over some almonds, which were quite nice with the bread. In retrospect, I should have baked at a lower temperature to protect the raisins (I baked at 375 degrees, but 350 degrees would have been better for this bread).
I like this kranz cake at Baroness Tapuzina. The date and walnut filling sounds delicious, and I like the idea of brushing the finished cake with sugar syrup. The recipe comes from Janna Gur, and I really want to try her chocolate halvah filling for this cake.
Kranz or Krantz is German for wreath, so I wonder if this kind of loaf was originally twisted around into a coffee cake wreath shape.
As for the water roux, I boiled an ounce of flour with two ounces of water and added the resulting sludge to the dough. It didn’t improve the final bread, I don’t think. But it was an interesting experiment.
I am sending this to Yeastspotting.