Israeli Kranz Cakes: Chocolate Halvah and Orange Date Almond

I wanted to try the kranz coffeecake concept again after making a whole wheat cinnamon raisin one.

This time, I made half a batch of Janna Gur’s recipe (from The Book of New Israeli Food by the editor of Israel’s leading food magazine Al HaShulchan–see here for another interview) to make one loaf of chocolate halvah kranz coffeecake.

I also used half a batch of whole wheat challah dough to make the orange date kranz coffeecake version suggested by Baroness Tapuzina.

For the whole wheat challah dough, one thing I tried this time was holding back the oil, sweetener, and salt until the dough was more developed. I mixed the yeast, water, egg, and flour for a while, and then added in the oil, salt, and honey. The gluten really got well developed. This is a good method worth repeating, although not strictly necessary.

I cut Baroness Tapuzina’s filling recipe in half because I was only making one loaf. I used imported Israeli date filling and mixed it with a spoonful of orange juice and some orange and almond extract instead of the zest Baroness Tapuzina used (150 g. date filling, 1 Tbl. orange juice, 1/8-1/4 tsp. orange extract, 1/8-1/4 tsp. almond extract). Instead of putting the dough in a loaf pan, I let it rise free-form.

To make the loaf, you shape the dough into a 9×12 rectangle and smear over the date spread. I then sprinkled over sliced almonds instead of the chopped walnuts that Baroness Tapuzina used.

I should have rolled it up from the short end because I ended up with very long strands and the strands stretch when you twist them.

The date filling and the sliced almonds are a great filling for this type of shape. The kranz shape does not work well with ingredients that will spill out of the cut openings or burn when exposed to heat. Raisins burn. Really loose filling gush out (see below). The date filling does not spread out or burn, and the sliced almonds look attractive peeking out from the dough. Marzipan would also be a good filling for this shape.

For the chocolate halvah version, I was could not find the halvah spread. My first thought was to use chocolate spread, but it seemed too thick. So, I made a paste of 1/4 cup hot water, 1/4 cup cocoa, and 1/4 cup chocolate spread (plus 1 tsp. coffee powder). It tased terrific and looked great.

It also looked fine when I rolled it up. If I had made the usual babke shape, which keep the filling rolled up inside, there would have been no problem. But, I cut the roll in half and the filling gushed a little. Then I remembered that I forgot to sprinkle over the crumbled halvah and chocolate chips. Grrrr. I folded the twist–all slithery and sliding with the soft chocolate filling—into a loaf pan and sprinkled the crumbed halvah and chips over the bread.

The dough, by the way, was really lovely and rose like a dream. The final texture of the babka was as close to spongecake as I have ever tasted with a yeast bread.

Some slices had more chocolate filling than others, and the center was particularly moist from the syrup (see below):

The finishing touch for the kranz cakes is to brush them with sugar syrup when they come out of the oven. Instead of using just sugar and water, I added in lemon juice and vanilla (see dairy-free cheese danishes). For the chocolate halvah loaf, I also sprinkled over a drop of Amaretto and a sprinkle of Harmonia (Binyamina liqueur made with orange and almond–I don’t think they make it anymore).  Yum . . .

Here is the date cake sliced:

Thanks to the white whole wheat, it doesn’t look like a whole grain babka, but it is . . . The subtle whole wheat taste is nice with the date filling.

I am sending this over to Yeastspotting.

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4 Responses to “Israeli Kranz Cakes: Chocolate Halvah and Orange Date Almond”

  1. Julie M. Says:

    What a beautiful babka! It looks absolutely delicious. Nice work!

  2. ryeblossom Says:

    Good job! It looks so yummy! ^_^
    I really like the yeasted cakes in Israel.

    BTW- I once made for my kids a sort of a halvah spread, by mixing a bit of sesame paste (tahini) with some cocoa powder and honey. You might want to try and see if it works for you. It’s much faster (and maybe cheaper too) than spreading cocoa spread and adding halvah to it.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks! That is a really good tip about making homemade halvah spread. I have to try that. I’m sure it is tastier and healthier, too!

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