Uri’s remarkable riff on the swirly sweet bread features laminated dough and a Nutella-rich filling that’s gooey hot or cold. (You can also order it online, or make the recipe in Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking, a new cookbook by Uri and award-winning food writer Raquel Pelzel.) It’s a fine illustration of Uri’s more-is-more sensibility. Why just sell plain challah when you can sell one enriched with grated Gouda and dried cranberries?
While the babka is what made Breads famous—and brings hundreds of people to the bakery each day—it’s also a gateway drug to other obsessions-in-the-making. Take the shakshuka bread, a bubbly focaccia about the size of a small pizza, topped with a Middle Eastern tomato stew called matbucha, and a sunny side-up egg added during the last moments of baking. After the first couple of bites, you might think it’s too filling and look for a to-go box. Then halfway through, something inexplicable occurs. Not only do you think, I can finish this, you’re wondering what’s for dessert. As if on cue, an angel in a Breads T-shirt pauses at your table, lowering a tray of still-warm pastry cut into glistening bites. “Our famous chocolate babka?” As if that’s even a question.