Babka, the buttery bread that's rolled into loaves and rings, has roots in homes of Eastern European Jews. The name babka translates from languages like Ukrainian and Yiddish as "little grandmother." The baked good has deeper roots in immigrant hubs like New York, and is finally gaining sweet traction in L.A. Devour these six old school and new wave versions before lines start forming.
Diamond Bakery might look basic, but this business has been open about 70 years, making this Fairfax District elder statesman a standout amidst trendy sneaker and skate shops. Ruth Rubinstein, a Holocaust survivor, has been Diamond's owner for almost five decades. She sells babka ($6) in high-value loaves, featuring gooey chocolate and cinnamon cores and crumb tops. The coat stays nice and crusty. 335 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 655-0534
Beverlywood Bakery, a corner business with a blue and white awning, dates to 1946 in the heart of Pico Boulevard's Kosher Corridor. Most people grab and go, but you can sit at one of six stainless steel tables. Beverlywood Bakery only sells chocolate babka ($11) by the ring, which rises six inches tall, with a crumb and chocolate chip cap. 9128 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 278-0122
Yoav Rogel‘s recent replacement for Susina Bakery, Amelia, is bringing the flavors of Israel to Mid-City. The Haifa native's bakery, named for his daughter, sells massive slabs of Nutella chocolate babka ($3.50), made with laminated Danish dough that wraps beautifully around Nutella and chocolate chips, yielding gooey centers and flaky crusts. Rogel pointed out that they call babka by its German name, krantz, in Israel. 7122 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 954-1250
Cake Monkey Bakery
Cake Monkey Bakery, a charming pastel pink storefront from chef Elizabeth Belkind and business partner Lisa J. Olin, has a neon pink sign that encourages customers to "enjoy life eat cake." Each morning, Cake Monkey bakes just two chocolate hazelnut babka loaves, one to sell whole, and the other to serve by the slice. Each slice ($4) features buttery brioche slathered with house chocolate hazelnut spread and comes topped with crunchy hazelnut brittle. 7807 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 932-1142
Lodge Bread Co.
Or Amsalem and Alex Phaneuf quickly turned Lodge Bread Co., their western Culver City bakery, into a destination for bread, toast, and pastries. Lodge's babka ($5), only available on Saturdays, features tangy, naturally leavened brioche spread with Republica del Cacao dark chocolate and nutty shredded halvah. Each slab's center is gooey and chewy, with the exterior serving as a crusty counterpoint. 11918 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (424) 384-5097
The Sycamore Kitchen
At The Sycamore Kitchen, an industrial chic bakery and café on La Brea's design row, pastry chef Karen Hatfield bucks tradition by serving an individual-sized babka. Then again, they don't slice any baked goods at The Sycamore Kitchen, so single serving was the way to go. She was R&Ding a cinnamon roll and gravitated toward babka dough for its levity and tender texture. The Sycamore Kitchen's salted caramel pecan babka roll ($4) allows Hatfield to glaze the supple mound in sticky caramel. 143 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-0151