Bakehouse, Baking

No Bupkis: Zingerman’s Bakehouse Is Making Babka Again!

Babka is back! And it’s better than ever.

While we don’t tend to follow food trends here at Zingerman’s we will admit to caving into popular demand once in awhile. Our latest sweet capitulation? Babka. After halting production years ago, Zingerman’s Bakehouse—to the delight of customers from around the country who’ve been requesting it—is once again making babka!

“Amazingly, babka, a treat with a long history, is making a strong come back now.” says Amy Emberling, one of the managing partners at the Bakehouse. “People want it!”

If everything you know about babka comes from the famous Seinfeld episode, and you’ve never actually had a slice, the traditional Jewish treat is as Amy describes “an enriched sweet bread that’s usually filled with something and then rolled.” Here at the Bakehouse, we start with brioche dough covered in a dark chocolate spread and a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, chocolate crumble, and raisins soaked in orange syrup. You can watch it being made in this behind-the-scenes video:

In his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, Gil Marks traces the origins of babka back to Poland and Ukraine…and grandmas.

“Bakba takes its name from the endearment form of the Slavic babcia (grandmother), which is related to the Eastern Yiddish bubbe, thus literally meaning ‘grandma cake’,” wrote Marks, going on to explain that the name might be inspired by the fluted sides, resembling a woman’s skirt, that a traditional Polish pan creates. It could also be so named because grandmothers were usually the ones making the babka.

Ironically enough, Zingerman’s founder Ari Weinzweig tells us that babka of today, a Jewish-American invention and a decidedly much squatter affair, would be unrecognizable to his great grandparents as their version was “likely much larger, somewhere from the size of a modern day pannetone on up to some a few feet high.”

For some, babka is the ultimate comfort food. This goes especially for those who grew up eating it, but it has, thanks to food writers and yes probably that Seinfeld episode, become popular among those outside of Jewish-American communities. Ours will soon be made available throughout the U.S. via

“We had a lot of requests for it, and then there’s a lot of long-time customers that have never had it and are really excited about it,” says Carly, who works in the Bakeshop. Her co-worker Cathy reports that customers really seem to love the babkas, and they’ve been routinely selling out on weekends. “I had a customer this morning buy five, and he said he wouldn’t be able enter the door unless he had them.”

And what’s so great about our babka? Ours is richer than most that we’ve tasted (and we tasted a whole bunch before we started up production again) because we’re using butter and many babkas are made with shortening for kosher meals. We also use very flavorful, high-quality chocolate and cinnamon for a deeper flavor. “We like indulge, so our babka is bursting with filling,” says Amy. “No skimpy babka here!”

We love babka as a mid-morning treat—Amy suggests heating it up and enjoying it with a cup of coffee, but it’s also a stunner on any dessert table. Come get a taste at the Bakehouse!

This month, we’re baking it Friday through Sunday, and in September it will become available daily at the Bakehouse and the Delicatessen.