Baking: Babka

At Fine Bagels, we like to impress ourselves by making store-bought things. See: Hydrox Cookies and Rainbow Cookies. Since we suffer from something called “imposter syndrome,” we are pretty sure that we aren’t a real bakery despite evidence to the contrary. Still, everything has an upside, and because of this whole imposter syndrome, we delight in surprising ourselves with things that can pass themselves off as coming from real bakeries. And therefor tricking people. And therefor keeping up our bakery ruse for just a little bit longer. This is how we came to spend our Saturday night making babka.DSC_0827 (1)Babka is the best thing in the world. We can also now verify that it is effective for eating away pain, standing-in for human contact, and keeping you company better than a house cat but worse than a puppy.

Because our Georgia was pastry-neglected in childhood, she asked us what’s a babka. We told her it’s what happens when a rugelach (explitive)s a challah. Since she’s well-trained in that she can tell a rugelach from a challah, she knew this mule of the Jewish baking world was a good thing and showed appropriate enthusiasm.

We used the Smitten Kitchen via Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem recipe everyone is going on about. If no one else is afraid of this sticking to their hips for seven years, we’ll keep those feelings to ourselves. Here it is and here is it again. If you’re making this in Germany like us, use 405 Weizenmehl and cut down a bit on the instant yeast as ours behaved a bit more enthusiastically than the recipe indicated. Should we make this again, we’ll roll it a little thinner and twist it a little more to have even more chocolate ripples. The Smitten Kitchen suggestions to add cinnamon to the filling and to then chill the rolled logs in the freezer briefly before slicing were killer. Do it.

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Baker Style: Tom’s Shirt

Tom is one of our bakers. When he bakes Fine Bagels, he wears a very special tshirt. We think it makes the bagels taste even better.


If you’re into the noise scene in Jerusalem (and no, we don’t mean feral cats in heat baying at the moon), then surely you know Lietterschpich? They sound terrible. That’s probably because we don’t understand anything about what they’re trying to accomplish with their music. Not to mention we started off on the wrong Google foot when our first find was this abomination of a cover of Monkey Gone To Heaven. We mean, what the hell? Before Berlin, we’re from Boston. There is only one version of that song, and the Lietterschpich version is not it.

So despite the music, there is something we love about Lietterschpich. And that’s Tom’s T-shirt. Because of this:DSC_1181

We asked Tom a few questions:

Fine Bagels: What did you say the band’s name means again?

Tom: One Liter of Cum.

Fine Bagels: Nasty.

Fine Bagels: Tom, how did you come to possess such an excellent shirt? Surely you’re not a fan of this crappy band.

Tom: I stole it from a guy I was dating.

Fine Bagels: Respect.

Tom: Finally I have a place to wear it.

Fine Bagels: Have the Jewish people suffered enough?

Tom: No. Never.

Fine Bagels: Thank you, Tom.


Baker Style: Victoria Met Albert

Did we sign on to be spokespeople for Christmas shopping without the slightest hint of irony? No. We did not. But we are vain like you wouldn’t believe, not to mention completely smitten with Victoria Met Albert‘s yearly “All I want for Christmas” campaign, so we were thrilled to do it.

Victoria Met Albert is a lifestyle-ish store that sells homewares and his/her clothing and shoes. That sounds like a pretty bla endorsement, but it isn’t. It’s so much better and different from all those millions of little boutiques that pepper the Helmholtz and Boxhagener neighborhoods which, frankly, all blur together in our heads as one big sea of applique felted owl handbags. Victoria met Albert is a standout not just for how well Will and Ilke chose their products, but also for how they design their windows, advertisements, and general business face. It’s the kind of place that gets you all aspirational and full of ideas. They have new shipments coming in every week, which makes it well worthwhile to traipse moonily through on a regular basis.


The shoot was with Mark of Captivation on Schliemanstrasse in Prenzlauer Berg. Laurel’s main instinct in front of a camera is to slouch and emphasize her lack of orthodonture, but somehow Mark talked her out of that and managed to take a really nice picture. He is an excellent photographer.