It’s apple season. It’s Brussels sprouts season. It’s Mellocreme pumpkin season. It’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers. But with the Jewish holidays starting up this week, let me offer a gentle reminder about one of the best treats to enjoy in the cooler weather: Babka season is upon us.
You might argue that babka does not have a season, and you would be correct. That superlative Jewish pastry can be eaten all year long. But now is around the time where you might be scrambling to bring something to a Rosh Hashanah dinner, or might be looking for something sweet to have with your coffee, or are ready to snack on more buttery bread-related things now that ice cream is getting sort of untenable. Babka is the answer to your problems, my friend. Let me tell you a story.
It was maybe a year ago when I was trying to do some errands around union Square. It was grey and drizzly in that late September way that it gets in fall, and I was carrying too much, as I always am. The Hare Krishnas and skaters and meandering tourists formed a perpetual obstacle course. I was tired, achey, and slightly damp. And then I walked past a storefront with a woman in an apron offering tiny bites of hot chocolate babka, right out of the oven. It was sweet and flakey and sticky and amazing. Reader, I went into that magical place. I bought some. And I have been a babka addict ever since.
The place is Breads Bakery, and right now they have chocolate babka and apple babka, which has almonds on top of it. Sometimes they have marzipan challah, and that confuses me, but it is delicious. Once there was cinnamon babka, which is fine if you’re into that, but I think that Seinfeld pretty much gets that one right. Cinnamon is the lesser babka. But there are many other worthy babkas in New York City. In Williamsburg: Oneg Heimishe Bakery, which makes a babka with innards that taste like the center of a pan of gooey brownies. In the Lower East Side: Moishe’s, which has a loaf with a zip of citrus to even out that heavy chocolatiness. In most New York grocery stores: Green’s, a central babka-rie, that puts out a decent, yeasty loaf. Right now, before the holiday, bakers are positioning them on counters, glistening with their egg glazes, beckoning you to bring them home. So do yourself a favor. Have some babka.