The Great Dough Babka Taste Test

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I have not been shy about my fondness for babka. That delicious, buttery Jewish pastry, usually woven with chocolate or cinnamon, is excellent with a cup of tea or coffee, or just torn of into chunks and wantonly eaten. So believe me, when Dough announced that they were upping their already considerable butter-sugar game by offering a “doughka,” AKA a babka made from doughnut dough, I knew that eventually one of them would be mine. As it turned out, the doughka was a very popular offering: You have to call ahead and reserve one, and they’re only available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. But, gentle readers, in the name of journalism and our taste buds, today we obtained a doughka in every flavor: olive oil and lemon, sticky banana, and Mexican chocolate. Here is what we found out.

Mexican Hot Chocolate
This is the most traditional of the babka flavors in general, but the chocolate element isn’t as sweet as a regular babka. The chocolate was bittersweet with a bit of a spice to it, and a grittiness that didn’t quite jibe with the rest of the pretty excellent bread substance of the babka. If you’re not a fan of overly sweet things, this is a nice option. In fact, all of the Dough babkas lean more savory than extremely sweet, a pleasant surprise.

Sticky Banana
Something like a cross between banana bread and a cinnamon roll, the sticky banana babka means business. It has a sugary, sticky (natch) glaze and toasted, cinnamony pecans along with a pleasingly banana-y center. It’s not overpoweringly fruit-flavored, but it has that nice banana undertone. This was Brooklyn Managing Editor Kristin Iversen’s favorite, and here’s why:

Ok, so here’s the thing with me and babka: I’m not a classicist. Probably that’s because most “classic” babkas are too dry for me, and the ones that are successfully rich and moist (sorry for that word!) are the chocolate ones, which when they’re good—like at Breads Bakery—are great, but are, ultimately, still not that much better to me than getting a baguette and smearing it with Nutella. All of which is to say, I was ready for some innovation in the babka field, and Dough’s Sticky Banana Toffee flavor is it. It’s got a tender, yeasty dough, as any good babka should, but it’s also got a ribbon of sticky banana-toffee goodness spiraling throughout, ensuring each bite is decadent and sweetly surprising. Plus, it’s sprinkled with chopped up pecans, adding much needed crunch to what would otherwise be a pretty monotonous texture. So it is for all these reasons that I believe Dough’s Sticky Banana Toffee babka has dethroned Chocolate—the former best of the babkas—as the one must-try babka in New York.

Strong words! Perhaps fighting words? Because there’s still…

Olive Oil & Lemon
Think about a hunk of really delicious, pillowy bread soaked in good olive oil with a spritz of lemon juice. That’s pretty much what this babka tastes like, plus little chunks of candied lemon hidden in its pillowy depths and a dusting of sugar on the outside. It was the surprise favorite in the office, and my pick for the best doughka. There’s something subtle and balanced about it, just enough sweet and just enough salt.

Basically, for a unique babka experience, you could do a lot worse than one of these babies. (Plus, at $10 for a loaf, they’re priced slightly lower than most competing babkas, so there’s that.) But for pure  babka goodness, my go-to is still Israeli bakery Breads for their gooey chocolate babka. (Sorry, Kristin!) But Dough and Breads are pretty close together. Why not pick up both?

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