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Jan 20, 2007 03:59 PM

Babka in Cleveland

I'm looking for something similar to Bea's bakery in Cleveland. Have been told that the Bea's folks were originally from Cleveland area. Anything moist and delicious made on the Eastside? Not looking for a store bought/packaged/imported product. Thanks!

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  1. I'm a little confused about exactly what you're looking for. I'm not familiar with Bea's Bakery. There seem to be two different things that are called babka. In either case, they seem to be products of Eastern European cuisine so I figured that I could investigate several likely candidates. Also, I've had food from all of these bakeries but it's been so long that I can't remember anything. Between that and my inexact understanding of what you're looking for I was hoping that someone more knowledgeable would chime in.

    I've heard good things about Michael's Bakery (4478 Broadview Rd, 351-7530). Specifically, their bread and sandwiches. I haven't had any of their food. They do have babka. Usually on Th and Fr.

    Pincus Bakery says that they'll make it. It's a special order item. When I asked she responded that "babka" is what some people call chocolate kuchen.

    Davis Bakery asked me whether I meant "chocolate babka" or "babka bread". They sometimes have chocolate babka on the weekends and they only have babka bread for the holidays. So you missed Chrisnukanza but they'll have it again for Easter.

    Lax and Mandel says they have "chocolate babka".

    Unger's says they make chocolate kuchens every day and usually stock babkas that they ship from New York. They're currently out of those.

    Is it the kuchen that you're looking for? Or is it the bread?

    1 Reply
    1. re: stuart

      I called Lucy's Sweet Surrender ( to inquire about their soon to open cafe and I asked about babka. She asked what I meant. And of course, I didn't know. She said that some people call the challah bread "babka". On their website they call it kolac.

      So, I did a google search for "babka bea" and I think now actually understand what you're looking for. (I did search before but must have missed this: ). It seems that Lucy's kolac/challah is what you're looking for. These are definitely two interpretations of the same product. How closely those interpretations will match is something you'll have to judge for yourself. I will, however, vouch for the overall quality of Lucy's bread. It's very tasty. I've never had the chocolate.

      As a side note, she also said that some people think that "babka" equals the nut and poppy seed rolls that they sell and which other people I talked to may have been calling kuchen.

      I hope you enjoy Lucy's bread. Let us know in any case.

    2. perhaps lax and mandel bakery?

      1. I don't live in Cleveland so I can't suggest a bakery. In Columbus, no one makes a decent babka, so I have to resort to making my own. Here are a couple of my favorites. These would traditionally be found in a Jewish deli or bakery (if there was a decent one in Columbus!)

        RECIPE--Chocolate Babka
        Makes 3 loaves
        When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full five to six turns. The babka can be prepared up to Step Eight and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about five hours, and bake.
        1 1/2 cups warm milk (110°F)
        2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
        1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
        3 whole large eggs, room temperature
        2 large egg yolks, room temperature
        6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
        1 teaspoon salt
        1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
        2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
        2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
        1 tablespoon heavy cream
        Streusel Topping (see recipe below)

        1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

        2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

        3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

        4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

        5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.
        6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into three equal pieces. Keep two pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

        7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble a third of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist five or six turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll two turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough and remaining filling.

        8. Heat oven to 350°F. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble a third of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

        9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325°F; bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

        RECIPE--Streusel Topping

        Makes 3 3/4 cups
        This topping is the crowning glory of Chocolate Babka.

        1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
        1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
        12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

        1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

        Chocolate Babka #73879
        recipe by sugarpea
        This yeast bread tastes heavenly and looks fantastic. Everyone will wonder how you got the chocolate filling into such an elaborate pattern. But the best part is how great a slice tastes when warmed in the microwave. Recipe makes three loaves so you can give one as a gift, freeze one for later baking and still have one to eat now. Rising and resting times are included in cook time.
        30 servings 3 loaves
        3 hours 15 minutes 45 mins prep
        Bread Dough
        4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4 ounce packages)

        1 1/2 cups warm milk (110°)

        1 pinch sugar

        3/4 cup sugar

        2 large eggs, room temperature

        2 large egg yolks, room temperature
        6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

        1 teaspoon salt

        1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

        butter, for oiling bowl and loaf pans

        36 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
        1 cup sugar

        2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

        3/4 cup unsalted butter

        Egg Wash
        1 tablespoon heavy cream

        1 egg

        Streusel Topping
        1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar

        1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

        12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

        1. Bread Dough: Proof yeast in milk with a pinch of sugar for 5-10 minutes until foamy; whisk sugar, eggs and egg yolks together; add to yeast and whisk.
        2. Combine flour and salt and stir in egg mixture, mixing thoroughly; cut butter into 1" pieces and beat into flour mixture until dough is smooth and sticky and butter is completely incorporated.
        3. Scrape dough onto floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes; place in buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to double, about 1 hour.
        4. Filling: Stir chocolate, sugar and cinnamon together; cut butter in; set aside.
        5. Egg Wash: Whisk egg and cream together and set aside.
        6. Streusel Topping: Stir sugar and flour together; cut butter in until clumps range in size from crumbs to 1"; set aside.
        7. Butter three 9"x5"x2 3/4" loaf pans and line with parchment paper; punch dough down and let rest 5 minutes; cut into 3 equal pieces; keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working on the third.
        8. On a floured surface, roll the dough out 16" square by 1/8" thick; brush edges with egg wash; crumble 1/3 of the Filling (reserving 2 T) evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4" border.
        9. Refresh egg wash if needed; roll dough up tightly, jelly roll fashion; pinch ends together to seal; twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full five or 6 turns; brush top of roll with egg wash.
        10. Sprinkle the reserved 2 T Filling over the egg-washed top and press in gently so that it doesn't slide off; fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half; fold ends under and pinch to seal; twist roll two turns and fit into prepared pan; (Loaves may be frozen at this point for up to a month).
        11. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling; preheat oven to 350°; brush the top of each loaf with egg wash and crumble 1/3 of the Streusel Topping over each; loosely cover with plastc wrap and rest loaves 30 minutes.
        12. Bake loaves 30 minutes; rotate and bake another 25 minutes until golden; lower heat to 325° and bake another 15-20 minutes or until deep golden; cool in pans on wire rack; remove from pans and serve.
        13. Baked loaves may be frozen up to one month; if frozen unbaked, let stand at room temperature 5 hours and bake

        1. Heinen's grocery store sells a babka bread from a bakery in Macedonia (don't remember the name of the bakery - sorry). It looks good but I haven't tried it.