I stand with Elaine Benes (you know, Elaine from Seinfeld) on the great babka debate. Cinnamon babka is a lesser babka than chocolate babka. By a long shot. In this recipe, the sourness of the labneh and the sweetness of the maple syrup, combined with the crunch of the hazelnuts and the savouriness of the halvah, make for a mouth full of joy. It’s also pretty cool to bring cuisines together like this. Maple syrup of Ontario, challah from my childhood, labneh and halvah from the homeland. Yeah, pretty cool.
Nutella Babka Bread Pudding
❏ 1/2 loaf challah, homemade or store-bought
❏ unsalted butter, for greasing
❏ 250 ml (1 cup) labneh or pressed plain Greek yogurt, for serving
❏ 60 ml (1/4 cup) toasted, crushed hazelnuts, for serving
❏ 1 small piece halvah, grated, for serving
❏ 125 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup, for serving
❏ 500 ml (2 cups) heavy cream (35 %)
❏ 6 large eggs
❏ 7.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) vanilla paste or extract
❏ 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
❏ 37.5 ml (2½ tbsp) brown sugar, well packed
❏ 75 ml (5 tbsp) white sugar
❏ 125 ml (1/2 cup) Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread
The night before you’d like to serve this, preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and cut the challah into small cubes. Toast the challah on a baking sheet in the preheated oven until mostly dried throughout, about 20 minutes. If the bread is still quite soft, it won’t absorb nearly as much of the custard.
For the custard, in a large bowl, combine the heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, salt, brown and white sugars, and Nutella. Using a hand mixer, blend the custard ingredients. Add the challah croutons to the bowl to soak in the custard overnight in the fridge.
The next day, preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F), grease a loaf pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper and boil a kettle of water.
Transfer your bread pudding to the loaf pan, cover it with more parchment paper and wrap with aluminum foil. Put the loaf pan in a larger casserole dish, then slowly pour the boiled water into the casserole dish until it comes about 3 cm (1 inch) up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1½ hours, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
Once the loaf is just cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and cut it into thick slices.
If you’re serving this later, you can reheat it in the oven until it’s just toasted and hot throughout. To serve, top with labneh, toasted hazelnuts, grated halvah and maple syrup.
Excerpted from The Last Schmaltz: A Very Serious Cookbook by Anthony Rose and Chris Johns. © 2018 Anthony Rose and Chris Johns. Photography by Kayla Rocca. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.