Chocolate Babka

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I’ve made coffee cakes from Ida’s Yeast Dough for years, but have never rolled and filled them to make a chocolate babka. The fun part was coming up with a flavorful, deep chocolate filling, and then rolling, scoring, and twisting the cakes.

The dough

Make one batch of Ida’s Yeast Dough. Cool for several hours or overnight.

Make the filling

Combine all ingredients and microwave until just melted. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stopping to stir to avoid scorching.

  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. dark cocoa
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Prepare two loaf pans

Lightly grease each pan, then fit with parchment, leaving overlap on the long sides of the pan.

Make the cakes

Divide the dough in half. Roll each into a 20″ x 15″ rectangle, using plenty of flour to avoid sticking. Evenly spread half the filling over the dough. Starting on the long edge, roll the dough tightly into a long coil. Take a very sharp knife and cut through the coil down its length, into about half of the coil’s depth. Carefully lift one half of the coil and place over the other half, to make a twist—keeping the cut side up. Create one more twist, moving one end of the coil over the other—again keeping the cut side up. Tuck the remaining dough under the end and place the cake into one of the prepared pans. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40–45 minutes, or until nicely browned, and the bread has an internal temperature of 190–200 degrees.

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(above) After the dough is rolled out, evenly spread on a thin layer of the chocolate filling. Roll it up, and slit it down the length before coiling and placing in the prepared pan (below).

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Ida’s Yeast Dough Coffee Cake and other delicious recipes are included in my new 86-page baking cookbook, You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Passover Granola Bars

Here’s a great Passover treat to enjoy with your morning coffee, or to send with your kids for a school snack. The granola bars are very soft, and benefit from being refrigerated.

makes 24 bars


  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. butter, softened
  • ²/₃ c. almond butter
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 c. matzo farfel
  • ¼ c. sesame seeds
  • ¼ c. sunflower seeds
  • ²/₃ c. slivered almonds
  • 1 c. dried cherries


  • peanut butter for almond butter
  • vanilla for almond extract
  • pecans for almonds



1. Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease a 13˝ x 9˝ pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, almond butter, and almond extract. Stir in the remaining ingredients and press it all into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

4. While warm, lightly score into bars; cut through when cool.

For many more passover recipes from my kitchen, please get the book Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

Chopped Liver

Chopped Liver

  • 1-1/4 pounds of chicken livers (about 3 cups)
  • 2 large onions, sliced (doesn’t have to be pretty since they will be ground)
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled
  • 4-6 Tbs. schmaltz (chicken fat), or olive oil
  • salt to taste

Render the chicken fat until the gribenes are golden brown. Remove the gribenes and set them aside. Set aside the rendered chicken fat.

If you have a lot of schmalz, use a tablespoon or two to saute the onions and livers. Cook until the onion is soft and the livers are cooked through.

Grind the livers, onions, gribines and eggs. Add 4 tablespoons of schmalts– and more if you like your chopped liver a little more moist. Season with salt. Refrigerate. Serve an a appetizer with matzo, or as a matzo sandwich.

Schmaltz. It adds a distinctive, rich flavor to the chopped liver.

These tasty bits are the gribenes. My grandfather Max loved them. If you don’t eat them all, grind them in with the rest of the ingredients.

For many more passover recipes from my kitchen, please get the book Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen

Passover Teiglach

Our Teiglach is served on a pretty glass plate. The family helps themselves with their fingers, pulling apart the sweet, sticky pieces.

sc0015a5d5teiglach recipe card sm

This is what I would call a well-loved recipe card.

I just made this for the first time in over 20 years. My grandmother, Mollye, in her later years, would have me come over to help make the dough and to lift the pot to pour out the hot teiglach onto the board. The weirdest step in her process is when she would go to my grandfather’s liquor cabinet, take out a bottle of bourbon, pour a little into her hands and then pat down the board. I don’t understand it—yet I do continue the tradition.

Form the dough into 1/2″ coils, then cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Boil the dough for 10 minutes to set their shape.

Pour into an oven-proof dish, and place in a 375 degree oven. Give the dough a gentle stir every few minutes. When dark, thick, and bubbly, (about 12–15 minutes) remove from oven to prepared board. 

Pour the cooked teiglach out onto a board to cool–but first pat down the board with a little whiskey!


For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Do you have flour and yeast in the house? Have you got a little honey and salt? In less than an hour and a half, you could take fresh bagels out of your oven.


  • 2 c. warm water
  • 1 Tbs. yeast (or just use a package if that’s what you have)
  • 2 Tbs. honey (or sugar)
  • 6 c. flour (may use 2 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 Tbs. salt



  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • dried onion
  • fresh garlic, pressed
  • sunflower seeds



  1. In a large bowl, stir the yeast and honey into the water. Let sit for 10 minutes or so, until foamy. Stir in the salt and as much flour as you need to make a kneadable dough. Knead for 10 minutes.
  2. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  3. Using your largest soup pot, put about a gallon of water on to boil.
  4. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Coil each piece into a section about 7˝ long and 1˝ in diameter. Attach the ends, and then, with your hand inside the loop, roll the seam so that the shape is even. (Alternatively, make a fairly uniform ball shape, poke your thumb through the center, and then even out the bagel shape from there.)
  5. Let bagels rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Grease two cookie sheets.
  7. Boil the bagels. Place the bagels into the boiling water. They will expand in the water so only put in about four at a time. Boil for two minutes on a side, then flip and boil for two minutes on the other side.
  8. Remove from water with slotted spoon, and place on cookie sheet.
  9. Sprinkle on the toppings of your choice, or make them plain.
  10. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Leave room for the bagels to expand in the boiling water.


What’s for supper? Last night it was toasted bagels topped with pastrami and swiss, broiled until the cheesse melted. Doug topped his with brown mustard. Served with a side of pea pods and cucumber spears.




For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Bialys were once the life-bread of Bialystok, Poland. They resemble a bagel, although the hole does not go all the way through—the depression is usually filled with minced onions and poppy seeds. Also, bialys, unlike bagels, are not boiled prior to baking. A terrific read about the history of this special bread is The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World, where the author, Mimi Sheraton, sets out to find an authentic bialy in Bialystok, only to find that nearly all of the original bakers are gone.

This also makes an exceptionally good pizza dough. After the first 2-hour rise, punch down, let rest for 10 minutes, then shape into pizza doughs.


For the dough:

  • 2 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2¼ tsp. yeast (1 package)
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 5 c. flour

For the filling:

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt (preferably coarse kosher salt)


  1. In a large bowl or mixer, mix together the water, sugar and yeast. Let rest about 10 minutes until bubbly.
  2. Stir in the salt and flour. Knead for 10 minutes. Cover and let rise for 2–3 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough, divide in half and roll into two 8″- long cylinders. Cut each into 8 pieces. Let the dough rest for a few minutes on a lightly floured board, while you prepare the filling.
  4. For the filling, mix together the onion, olive oil, poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.
  5. Form each piece of dough into a ball, and place onto a parchment-covered baking sheet, and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.
  6. Using a small glass or jar that is 2″–3″ in diameter, press a deep indentation into each dough-ball. The glass will probably stick to the dough, so you can grease it (just dip it lightly into your filling mixture) and flour it before pressing into the dough. Or use your hands to form the shape.
  7. Spoon ½ teaspoon of filling into the indentation.
  8. Preheat oven to 475°.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes until just lightly browned. Do not let them get dark brown, since bialys are meant to be sliced and toasted before eating.

The flattened rounds of dough at the end of their rise.

Grease and flour a 2″ glass, then press into the risen dough.

These are filled and ready for the oven.

Sliced and toasted. Bialys are good with butter, cream cheese, lox, jam, or…?


If you’re a crispy, these are for you: Mandel Bread

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Mandel bread is another of those Jewish staples, something that you’ll often see at an oneg Shabbat (a social gathering after temple services) or for the high holidays. They are crisp, light, butter cookies, which are twice-baked; something like biscotti but much more delicate. The name comes from mandelbrot which means almond bread. While some bakers put almonds in their mandel bread, my mother was partial to pecans. This is her recipe. If you compare what follows to her recipe card, you’ll notice that I’ve increased the salt a bit, since Ruth used salted butter and I prefer unsalted for baking.


  • ½ lb butter
  • 2 Tbs. Crisco (optional)*
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • ½ c. chopped pecans
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips

*makes for a bit flakier cookie


  1. Cream butter, Crisco and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla, and then the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the nuts and/or chips.
  4. Refrigerate dough for about 2 hours (or spread the dough thin along the edges of a metal bowl and freeze for 20 minutes).  Next: Shape, bake, slice, and bake some more
  5. Hand roll into eight 1″ rolls, place onto greased cookie sheets, spaced about 4 inches apart and flatten using the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake at 350° for 20–25 mins, or until very slightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven and cut into ¾” diagonal slices, turn each cookie 90° onto a cut edge and return to oven to bake for another 8–10 mins.
  8. Remove from oven and flip each cookie over onto the other cut edge, return to oven for another 8–10 mins.


These are best when served right from the pan, and plopped into a bowl of chicken soup.

My mom would make kreplach every Yom Kippur. I don’t think I’d tasted one in over 20 years, but in my mind I could TASTE them, and finally I broke down and made some. With thanks to Cousin Betty and sister Maralee for helping to jog my memory, since all I had was a scrawled note of my mother’s with the recipe for the dough.

Every culture has their dumplings: pierogi, gyoza, wonton. The Jews have their kreplach. The triangular kreplach from my mother’s kitchen are made with a dough that is part mashed potato and part noodle. For the frugal-minded cook, a little piece of a leftover roast is the basis for the filling. They are first boiled, then fried— there is nothing better!

Fry these until they are nicely browned and crisp.

Gently boil for 5 minutes before frying.




For the filling

  • 1 c. cooked beef, loosely measured, then ground
  • 1/3 c. grated raw onion
  • 1–2 Tbs. oil, if your meat is very dry or lean
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ tsp. seasoned salt
  • For the dough
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 medium potato, boiled



Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Prepare the filling

Mix together the ground beef, onion, oil, egg, and salt.

Make the dough

Using a fork, beat the egg, mix in the flour and salt, then mash in the boiled potato. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for about a minute, adding only a little more flour as necessary.


Divide the dough into two halves. On the floured board, roll into a rectangle, about 8˝ x 10˝, then cut into 2˝ squares. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the corner of each square. Put a little water into a small dish, dip your finger, and wet two adjacent edges of the dough square. Fold one half of the dough over to meet the wet edges, forming a triangle, then press to seal well. Continue filling and sealing all of the kreplach.


When the water has boiled, drop the kreplach, in batches, into the boiling water, lowering the temperature so that they cook at a low, easy boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove, using a slotted spoon, to a cookie sheet.


In a deep pan, pour in about 1/8˝ of oil. When very hot, add the kreplach, cooking in small batches. When browned, turn over to cook on the other side. Remove to drain onto a paper towel. Serve while very hot and crisp, with a bowl of homemade chicken soup.

A sweet babka for a sweet new year

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

A babka is a yeast-dough coffee cake, usually filled with fruit and/or chocolate. My nana made a babka each year for Rosh Hashana, which she made as sweet as possible so that we would enjoy a sweet year. I remember her emptying out jars of jam (usually leftover Passover eingie, or maybe some plum jam), throwing in some extra sugar and cinnamon, plus a handful of nuts and raisins. In her honor, I made one for my family today, and filled it with a jar of tart cherry jam, some chocolate chips, cinnamon-sugar and a handful of slivered almonds. The fun in making this is that you can use whatever filling you like.


If you’d enjoy the recipe, please visit the Apple iTunes store to download my app, iNosh. Here’s the link for that:

I’m donating half of the proceeds to Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger

And here’s a preview of some of the content on the app. For now, it’s only available for iPad users.

iNosh info