Babka, the pastry that Jewish communities (and cities with large Eastern European populations) have known and loved for generations, is finally getting a wider audience. The loaf, which is commonly flavored with chocolate, cinnamon, and nuts, has the density of brioche mixed with the sweetness of a swirled coffee cake.
Here in the Denver area, the best example we’ve found is at Grateful Bread Company in Golden. Once a week, during what owners Jeff Cleary and Kathy Mullen call “retail day,” the bakery opens its doors to a line of customers and sells freshly milled flours, loaves of handmade breads, pastries, and babka by the one-and-a-half-inch slice ($2).
Bakers Cleary and John Groundwater started messing around with babka when they realized it was a way to repurpose their buttery but useless croissant scraps. The result is a tender bread that mixes sweet with savory and sharp notes of dark chocolate and almond butter.
Of course, using scraps means Grateful Bread’s babka is a limited commodity. But the pastry has been so popular that Groundwater has begun making a batch of croissant dough specifically for the treat. There’s talk of doing individual-size breads in the bakery’s sticky-bun pans, but that hasn’t taken shape yet. In the meantime, heaven awaits by the single slice. 425 Violet St., Golden