My introduction to the kitchen, like a lot of other kids, was helping my mum make cakes and getting to lick the bowl.
90ml warm water
45 grams caster sugar
250 grams strong or high grade flour
45 grams fresh yeast (or 15g instant dry yeast)
3 large eggs
500 grams strong or high grade flour
25 grams caster sugar
10 grams flaky salt, crushed
6 large eggs
330 grams unsalted butter, only just soft
1 egg, beaten, for brushing
150 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
100 grams butter, at room temperature
150 grams biscuit crumbs (use any favourite biscuit that has or goes with chocolate)
1 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
1½ tsp lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Israeli food has become less Ashkenazi and more Sephardic and Arabic over the years, but the European krantz is the nation’s favourite cake, so the recipe has hung on. It has layers of thin brioche style dough spread with chocolate. It’s what everyone eats with their tea or coffee, and what you bring as a gift when invited to someone’s house for coffee. In Israel you can buy it in every bakery, so Mum didn’t actually need to make it too often, but for us this is the cake, so here is the recipe.
Dough: Mix the dough starter ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer and leave in a warm place until bubbling, about 30 minutes for fresh yeast or 10 minutes for dry yeast. Mix in the dough mixture flour, sugar, salt, and eggs, and knead with a dough hook for 10–15 minutes until smooth and elastic. With the mixer still on, add the butter 50g at a time, waiting until the butter is beaten into the dough before adding the next piece; this takes a few minutes each time. Your final dough will be quite sticky.
Chill the dough as quickly as possible by spreading it onto a large baking tray lined with a piece of baking paper, covering it in plastic wrap, and placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once the dough is very cold and firm enough to roll, proceed with the next steps.
Note, you can complete all steps above, then fold the chilled dough into a 10cm thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to two weeks. Let frozen dough defrost in the refrigerator before rolling out while still very cold.
To assemble: Preheat oven to 180°C. Line and grease two 30cm × 11cm (or similar) loaf tins.
Melt the toppings chocolate and butter in a double boiler set over just simmering water (do not let the water boil, or touch the top pan), whisking gently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature while you roll out the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first disc of dough as thin as possible while keeping it around 30cm wide – the thinner you can roll out the dough, the more layers your cake will have. Spread half of the chocolate onto the dough and sprinkle with half of the crumbs. Roll the dough into a roulade starting from one of the shorter (30cm) edges. It will stretch a little as you roll it, this is ok.
Once you have a rolled log of dough, cut it in half lengthwise. Cross one half over the other to form an ‘X’ shape. Gently lift the ‘X’ into the lined tin, and loosely tuck the ends over and under each other so that the two halves are woven together.
Repeat with the other half of the dough and toppings. Place a dish of water in the bottom of the oven to provide steam as the loaves bake. Place the loaf tins on a shelf above. Bake the cakes for 50 minutes until a deep golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven and immediately brush the syrup on top. Wait a minute for the syrup to soak in and repeat a few times. After five minutes you can remove the cakes from the tins and brush the remaining syrup over the sides and bottoms of the cakes. Krantz cake is best served warm or at room temperature on the day of baking. Makes two loaves.