Kale Krantz

If you google "Krantz" or "Babka" you get 2 full pages (did not look beyond) of bloggers making chocolate babkas from Ottolenghi's cookbook. In a way, he elevated the bread to super stardom. And, really can he be blamed? Imagine a soft bread run over with rivers of molten chocolate infusing it with sheer  decadence. You know, its meant to be for higher purposes!

I remember the first time I saw it, here. It captivated me. There was something about those luxurious curves that was utterly sensual. Yet, the thing is while I may admire a chocolatey confection such as that thoroughly and even long to make it myself, I rarely do. It's a bit messy to make to start, I don't see myself eating much more than a slice and people who I gift to prefer savory to sweet. Chocolate babka for me was one that I would happily taste at a bakery with tea. It is an "out" slice.

But, I was still enamored by the idea of the Krantz. Chocolate fills the eyes in photographs, but, when I look beyond, it is those swirls that really make the allure. The layers of alternating bread and filling adding texture to each bite and the fun of making braids. If you have ever made a challah you'll know there is much fun in twisting a living piece of dough into interesting shapes. It is mesmerizing.

There is a subtle femininity to it!

I made a version of it sometime ago with nut and fruit filling. This time, I decided I wanted to go savory. And, green. Since it is Fall, it made sense to choose the current on-trend leaf, Kale. I discovered kale about two years after I came here. I had grown up consuming a lot of greens in my diet and I loved them. I was bemoaning the lack of variety of them here as I don't consider salad greens a variety. I don't much like salad greens and like my leaves cooked. And, then I stumbled on the kale. Halleluyah. Ok, no, it did not solve all my problems about needing variety but it offered a fair bridge because since I stopped looking for exactly what I was used to eating before, I found quite a few leafy greens that are great cooked with.

For the record, I was in love in kale, before it was fashionable to be so. I added it to everything ( except salads). I made pesto, soups, pies and quiches, just added them in stews and curries. Have you ever tried if with a peanut butter curry? Incredible! So, it was a no brainer that when the fresh herb season largely passed, I resorted to this little favorite of mine to fill the bread.

Of course, I can expound on all the goodness that this kale business brings to the bread and how it is full some this and that nutrients. But, all I am going to say is that, it with a generous dash of mustard and a few fennel fronds, makes a mighty tasty bread and really, that is all I am going to sell you. Flavor...

So, that's really it, people. It's a Monday, and I know we have a long list of things to do. I'll break here and just give you the bread and we'll both have a great week! :)


Kale Krantz

{Recipe adapted from this Garlic, Parsley and Parmesan Pull Apart Bread, in turn adapted from Joy}

This recipe make one really long loaf or 2 regular sized loaves. I used a 15 x 4 inch loaf pan. Making it in two loaves is more practical, as you can freeze the second and have it for later.

The downside to using kale is that, unlike chocolate, it is not a natural preservative. In fact quite the opposite. So, this bread needs to be consumed fairly fast. It lasts for about 4 days wrapped in foil and stored at room temperature. 

You can use the same recipe for dough to make the chocolate version. For the filling you can use molten chocolate with some dark chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

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For the dough:

3 cups whole or durum wheat flour

2-1/4 generous tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2  cup warm milk

2 eggs, whisked

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

For the Kale spread

{makes more than you need but use the rest for pasta sauce or sandwich spread}

1 bunch of kale

5 T ground mustard (more if you like a punch)

1/3 T chopped fennel fronds

salt and pepper to taste

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (~110 F) and set aside for 10 minutes until foamy.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. 

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the yeasty milk, whisked egg, water and oil.

Knead into a tacky, elastic dough by hand or in a mixer. It takes about 15 minutes by hand. 

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl about twice the size of the ball, cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm corner of your kitchen. Placing by, rather than on top of the stove is easiest.

Let it rest and rise to double its volume. About an hour to hour and half depending on how warm your house is.

As the dough rises for the first time, make the spread. Blanch the de-stemmed kale leaves in boiling water for 45 seconds.

Pulse the drained leaves with mustard, fennel fronds, salt and pepper to a smooth puree and reserve.

When the dough is well risen, turn it over onto a well floured surface. Degas the dough by gently punching it. If making two loaves, divide the dough into two and follow the below steps for each half.

Roll it out into a large rectangle of about 1/4 inch thickness, keeping the short edge towards you. Spread the kale mixture generously on top.

Starting with the side closest to you, roll the bread into a tight log. Turn the log to be perpendicular to you.

Leaving a 1 inch border, make a slit in the center to the end of the dough splitting it.

The dough will be heavy and a bit of its own will, but taming it is fun! ;-)

Fold each leg on its own, multiple times until you reach the end.

Gently lift it and fold into a prepared baking pan. Cover with towel and let it rise for 45 minutes to an hour until springy to touch.

As the dough rises for the second time, pre-heat the oven to 400 F. {Keep the bread away from the stove this time.}

When ready, brush the top with olive oil and bake the krantz(es) for 30 minutes until browned and its sounds hollow when tapped at bottom.

Remove from pan immediately and cool on a rack. The great thing about this dough is that you don't have to wait till it cools completely to slice into it. :)