babka [bahb-kuh] noun
A Polish coffee-cake-style sweet yeast bread, often baked in a loaf pan or a deep-ring mold. The most common flavors of babka found in commercial bakeries are chocolate and cinnamon-raisin. You will find many different recipes labeled “babka,” but what is consistent is that they are made from a yeast-based dough that has some sort of filling swirled throughout. The filling can be dried fruit, such as raisins, or even preserves, chocolate or nuts. The top can be crowned with streusel, a glaze, confectioners’ sugar or a combination of these.
In the famous “Dinner Party” episode of Seinfeld, an entire storyline is built around getting the last chocolate babka at the bakery for a hostess gift on the way to a party. The person ahead of Jerry and Elaine gets the last chocolate babka. Faced with having to settle for the cinnamon, Elaine declares, “We’ll be going in with a lesser babka.” The duo is challenged with not being able to buy the chocolate version, which they believed was the only suitable gift for their friends. Jerry exclaims, “What are we going to do now? If we can’t get the babka the whole thing’s useless.” Not every baked good is immortalized with such fervor.