Why Breads Bakery Is The Best Bakery in NYC
New York City is home to lots of outstanding bakeries. While it may not be the birthplace of babka, we can guarantee that you won’t get a sweeter taste of one anywhere else. This is because Israeli-born Uri Scheft brought his award-winning, sugary pastry bread stateside — right to east 16th street. Uri started Breads Bakery with partner Gadi Peleg 2 short years ago, but the signature chocolate and Nutella babka has since created a ton of buzz: New York Magazine named it the best babka in the city and the Village Voice named Breads the best bakery in New York, and we happen to agree. We were lucky enough to chat with Uri & Gadi about the secret to their success and they even shared their famous recipe with us so you can make it at home!
What is your secret to perfect babka?
We are generous with the Nutella and chocolate and, of course, we use good chocolate. Other than that, practice helps. Babka is best when fresh… we make it several times a day, every day.
We’ve had the pleasure of trying a Breads Bakery iced mocha, and it’s by far the best we’ve had in the city. And we’ve tried a lot! What else would you recommend we try at Breads?
Our Rugelach are individually rolled by hand and also baked several times a day. The chocolate ones are delicious and the almond ones are unique to BB. The other standout is our coffee. We are coffee drinkers, so we taste our coffee many times a day. We work closely with our roaster to ensure our baristas are trained on an ongoing basis and that we serve a perfect cup of coffee every time.
What about other bakeries in the city… do you have a favorite spot?
We love Sullivan Street Bakery and respect [the owner] Jim Lahey very much.
Yum. Us, too! And speaking of running a bakery, what are the challenges in running one in New York?
Making sure the bread we make today is as good if not better than yesterday’s. New Yorkers know good quality and we know we have to exceed the expectation every time.
That’s so true. Can you give us a life-changing tip for amateur bakers out there?
Uri: I’ll give you two. The first is, be precise with scaling and measuring of your ingredients. Do it very carefully. The second is, be very focused while kneading your dough. I always recommend getting to know your dough intimately. This way your head will remember the recipe and your hands will learn the feel of the dough when it is at the right consistency.
Visit Uri at Breads Bakery on E 16th street between 5th Ave and Union Square West to get a taste of their deliciousness. It’s a great spot to grab a cup of joe, pick up a quick breakfast or lunch and hang out.
Chocolate & Nutella Swirled Babka
This recipe makes 3 babkas, so we suggest you make it for Rosh Hoshana and give one or two as hostess gifts. You can also throw ’em in the freezer and defrost when you want a taste of chocolatey goodness.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 packets active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour, sifted
- 2 1/2 cups pastry flour, sifted
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
- 30 oz Nutella
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Start by making the syrup. Add sugar and water to a pot over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce and let it simmer until the sugar dissolves [2 minutes]. Remove from the heat and let it cool. You can refrigerate it in an air-tight container for up to 30 days.
- Get your dough started by activating the yeast according to the directions on the package.
- Pouring the milk into a large bowl and add the yeast mixture.
- Add the flour first, then the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and half of the butter. Blend until combined with an electric mixer on the lowest speed with a dough hook attachment — about 3 or 4 minutes. You can also use your hands if you like to get down and dirty with your dough!
- Increase the mixer speed and slowly add the rest of the butter until combined.
- Place the dough on your work surface and knead by hand for about 2 minutes. Then shape it into a square, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
- Once your dough is nice and cold, roll out your dough [about 1/5 inch thick] and spread the Nutella evenly. Sprinkle it with chocolate chips.
- Roll the dough tightly and lay seam-side down. Cut it into thirds, then cut each piece in half length wise.
- Lay 2 of the pieces on top of each other to form an X and roll each end of each piece over the other to form a twist with the two pieces. Repeat with the remaining 4 pieces.
- Transfer each “braided” loaf to a 8″ x 3″ pan, tucking the ends under. Cover with a dry towel and let is rise for about an hour.
- Set the oven to 350 degrees on convection.
- Bake the loaves for 25 minutes each [or just 20 minutes if you’re not using convection].
- Remove from the oven and brush immediately with the syrup.
Images from Breads Bakery & Wall Street Journal