This cake also known as Krantz or Babka is undoubtedly one of the main characters every Friday in the bakeries of Israel (at least in the pre-Pandemian era).

However, it is surprising the turn of events that adds to the history of this recipe its connection with Judaism. It turns out that this cake has several cousins and brothers. Its own name is an allegorical and funny spot of interwoven stories. In fact, I can admit that after all the readings about its origin, when I look at it I see a grandmother drinking rum in New York.

No, actually it has nothing to do with this picturesque image but each of these factors is part of the lineage of the Israeli Ugat Shmarim. On the one hand, the very term babka is a diminutive of grandmother in both Polish and Yiddish and in some other Slavic languages. It seems that in certain Eastern countries the shape of the cake was associated with the characteristic folds of the slatted skirts typical of grandmothers.

Babka by Diego Delso, delso.photo, Licencia CC-BY-SA

 

This “little grandmother” went very far. In France, it is said that she arrived by the hand of a Polish king, who in the reproduction of this dessert found himself with a result that was too dry, to which he added a solution by adding rum, consequently creating the French Baba au Rhum.

This traveling grandma also went across the Atlantic. Her version with rum and cherries has been appearing in American recipes since 1927.

Babka with cherries, Indiana, Pennsylvania, by Yesterdish

 

However, it was in the 1960s when Babka met Hershey and became filled and rename as a coffee cake. The one that now is available in every single bakery in Israel.

The conclusion is that it has Eastern origins and that his Ashkenazi roots took it to the States providing it its latest look.

Be that as it may, being so close to Vegan World Day I wanted to add one more layer of history to this iconic dessert by sharing its vegan recipe today. It will be up to you to use rum and to control your mind not to imagine a cheerful, blushing grandmother drinking rum along New York’s streets.

VEGAN RECIPE OF UGAT SHMARIM, BABKA

Ingredients

Dough

Xocolate filling

Elaboration

1

First, introduce the yeast in a glass of lookwarm vegetable milk together with a spoonful of sugar and mix. Leave the yeast to activate for 5 or 10 minutes.

2

Next, we will mix all the solid ingredients of the dough in a bowl and we will add the glass of vegetable milk little by little, mixing constantly. If necessary, you can add a little more vegetable milk.

3

When the consistency is homogeneous and firm, put it on a floured surface and knead it for 7 minutes. Make a ball with the dough, spread it in oil and let it leaven for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

4

After this time, we will melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and add it in a container with the margarine at room temperature, the sugar, the cocoa and the pinch of salt. We will beat with some sticks until we get the ointment effect, of spreadable cream.

5

Then, we will knead the dough until we get an elongated layer in which we will spread the chocolate. We will roll it over itself and give it a longitudinal cut (Video below). With the two parts we will make a braid and place it in a mold with paper for the oven.

6

We will bake for 45 minutes at 180º C. Sometimes depending on the oven it can take 60 minutes to rise completely.

7

When removed, it can be sprayed with water to give it the characteristic shine

8

And that’s it, you can now invite your vegan friends to enjoy the babka or ugat shmarim at home.

Notes

Margarine can be replaced with vegetable oil. The best options would be olive oil or high oleic sunflower oil.

With respect to vegetable milk, oat milk without calcium enrichment is very suitable for sweet vegan recipes. In any case, it can be chosen to taste.

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