It’s hard to pin down the category in which to slot the sweet treat known as babka; is it a bread, pastry, cake — or something in between? The chocolate babka that emerges several times a day from the oven at Breads Bakery(18 East 16th Street; 212-633-2253) is a perfect storm of all of the above. The compact loaf has the heft of a newborn baby, and its lacquered crust boasts the deeply burnished color and crackle of a Peking duck.
Neither too sweet for snacking nor too humble for dessert, this babka is to ordinary yeast bread what a croissant is to an English muffin. And come to think of it, the combination of twisted, buttery dough — folded in a pleasing ratio to the inner coils of oozing, melting hazelnut-scented chocolate — has more in common with a decadent pain au chocolat from a French patisserie than a humble, comforting slice of coffee cake from your neighborhood Ukrainian bakery.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.