We don’t sell it at all our stores, but if you live in Wichita, KS, you can find it at GA-Bradley Fair and GA-West.
Customers in those stores can’t seem to get enough of that chocolaty, cinnamon goodness that reads like an Easter bread for the Czechs and the Poles, but more like an every-day cake for the Jews. The Czechs, Hungarians and Ukrainians made Nut Roll—layers of pastry, brushed with butter, dusted with pecans, raisins and cinnamon sugar, then rolled into a loaf and baked in the oven till the whole house smelled of sugar and spice. The Jews made Babka—a delicious concoction of pure kosher ingredients (eggs, sugar, cocoa, Chocolate Liquor, vinegar and orange rind) all rolled into one delectable, craved-for treat.
It was a tradition in many Middle Eastern households to choose which mother, grandmother or aunt could make the best Babka or Nut Roll. The recipes were handed down, but it was that special “touch” that made the difference in texture and taste. Either you had the God-given talent to replicate the best ancestor’s recipe or you didn’t. If you made the grade, however, it might be a feather in your cap, but it most likely was the bane of your existence. Because forever afterwards, YOU would be the designated Babka or Nut Roll baker, and with the longevity that we enjoy today, tradition could translate into years!
Most of those who enjoy a Babka heritage order online from a NY or CA bakery, or they search out a natural food store in hopes of sampling the best ready-made has to offer. In the case of GreenAcres, Lilly’s Homestyle Bake Shop (operating out of Brooklyn, NY) is the place to go for great Babka. It comes into our stores by plane, fresh out of the oven and contains nothing but all natural ingredients; is low in saturated fat and has zero trans fats.
The Lilly’s story tells us there really was a Lilly, who spent all her love and baking abilities pleasing a family that never grew tired of her homemade Babka. There was always something wafting from the oven, “…sometimes a rugelah, other times a cookie, a fresh slice of Babka or honey cake…she was always mixing a batter, kneading a fresh dough, and adding a dash of love to a new batch of soon-to-be-freshly-baked goodies. The tantalizing aroma of chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla would all blend together, calling out to all what Lilly herself would say to visitors, ‘come in and eat something’.”
Over time, the round-the-clock baking of Lilly’s scrumptious homestyle treats evolved into a serious bakery business, capitalizing on modernity and the advent of state-of-the-art baking equipment. Add big business know-how and a crew of specially-trained bakers and the Lilly’s of yesteryear may not look the same, but it tastes pretty darn close. The baking methods (making from scratch daily) and the ingredients (only the freshest and best) remain the same.
But lest we babble on to boredom, we encourage you to try Lilly’s Babka and let us know what you think about one of the best and more endearing bakeries on the East Coast, now a powerhouse shipper of Lilly’s legacies all over the world.
In case you’d like to try to make Babka yourself, here’s a Youtube “how to” to get you started: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2qHEbUDcfw