There is something about winter that brings kokosh cakes to mind. When the weather is cold outside, and the snow is softly silent, there is something soothing and warming about fresh, runny yeast cakes. I am not really sure what it is. Maybe it's the warm, soft dough, or the heavenly smell that makes you want to stay indoors, near the kitchen and that homey aroma. Its probably also, though, the actual cake- any yeast cake-that has the magical ability to make one into an accomplished homemaker. In my Hungarian family background, if you can make a killer kokosh, you are automatically "geshikt" (accomplished).
In reality, there is a sort of satisfaction when you can serve your own home baked bit of goodness to your family, guests or friends. During my years as food editor at Binah Magazine we printed these recipes, and they garnered more attention than almost any other recipe. I hope you enjoy them, and join the hundreds of others who have made this recipe part of their shabbos or yom tov.
ROIZY’S FAMOUS KOKOSH
I somehow feel like a competent balbabusta when there is a kokosh cake in the freezer…….even if it’s the only thing in the freezer!
When I asked around for the best kokosh cake in town, I was directed to Roizy's house. Indeed the results were heavenly…. What especially struck me about this dough was its amazing elasticity. It was very easy to roll a very thin layer. I really just pulled it apart after minimal rolling and it spread out into a really thin sheet. Roll the dough as thin as possible and be very generous with the filling to create that real chocolaty effect.
5 lb flour
1 lb margarine (4 sticks margarine)
½ cup oil
1 cup sugar
3 oz yeast
2 Tbsp vanilla sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 cups warm water
¾ tsp salt
2 cups cocoa
5 cups sugar
1 Tbsp coffee
½ cup flour
1 vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 egg yolk
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp water
In the bowl of electric mixer, place the yeast, sugar and 1 cup water. Let it sit until the yeast starts bubbling (yeast proofs)
Add the remaining ingredients, alternating wet and dry. Add salt last. Mix for a full seven minutes. Mix ingredients for the filling in a large mixing bowl. Separate challah, reciting the bracha, and cut dough into as many pieces as desired (one quarter of the dough makes the cake in the photo). There is no need to let this dough rise. Roll the dough very thin, the thinner the better, and smear with a small amount of oil, cover generously with filling. Roll up to create a long log. Cut the log into even sized pieces, about 1½ inches thick. Place them upright around the perimeter of a 9 inch foil pan. Once the perimeter has been covered, create another row toward the centre and continue until you have only space in the centre for one piece. Place 2 pieces flat on their side, one on top of the other, to create the centre of the design. Brush with egg wash and bake for 35 – 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Tip: while the dough may seem a bit wet at first, once you start workng with it, it becomes much easier. Sprinkle a bit of flour if desired
Tip 2: Roizy said she sometimes sprinkles Bacardi, or rum onto the filling before she rolls it up. I tried it, and it was delicious. It created a slightly more sophisticated twist to a good ol’ homemade kokosh cake.
Tip 3: Always use more filling then you think initially necessary. It tends to lessen as the cake bakes.
Tip 4: This dough freezes really well. Raizel makes the dough and freezes it in 8 ziploc bags. Every Friday morning she takes one out of the freezer, waits till it reaches room temperature and rolls, fills and bakes. Fresh homemade chocolately kokosh cake every week!
LIGHT KOKOSH CAKE
While Roizy’s kokosh cake generated more enthusiasm than any other recipe printed to date, a few people wrote and requested a lower fat version. This cake contains no trans fats, is less fattening (its not low fat – its kokosh cake!). The dough is light and airy and the filling is not too sweet for those who don’t like cakes with too much sugar.
5 lbs flour
1¼ cup sugar
4 oz yeast
1½ cup oil
2 whole eggs
Pinch of salt
1 cup apple juice or light grape juice
4 cups lukewarm water
8 egg whites
1¼ cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
2½ Tbsp oil
1 egg yolk and 1 Tbsp water, mixed
Preheat oven 350°F.
Place the yeast, sugar and 2 cups of lukewarm water into bowl of an electric mixer and let sit for 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients alternating dry and wet. Mix on high speed for full 5 min. Cover dough and let rise for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile make filling: beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Take challah. Cut dough into 6 equal portions.
On a floured surface, roll each dough thinly and smear with filling. Roll up tightly into a long rope. Fold rope in half and twist until; the whole thing looks twisted- like a rope. Place in loaf pan. Rise again 1 hour. Brush with egg wash and bake for 45 minutes.
Estee Kafra was food editor of Binah magazine for 4 years. She is the author of two popular cookbooks,"Spice it Right"and "Cooking with Color". She is currently editor of the magazine "Kosher Inspired", published by Mishpacha Magazine.