I first became acquainted with Jewish pastry while reviewing the excellent “Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories” for Amazon. Although I can’t claim to have grown up near a surplus of Jewish bakeries like those once famous in New York, my Polish grandmother used to make amazing yeast-based breads and pastries that bore many similarities to classic Jewish baked goods, including poppy seed rolls and sour cream coffeecakes, so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to review “A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets.” I grew up noshing on poppy seed rolls, cheese-filled yeast coffeecake, and other Polish baked goods, so for me this is the ultimate comfort food.
I have been baking my own bread (including challah) and pastry for years, but I am always on the lookout for heirloom and vintage recipes, especially Jewish ones. “A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets” covers Bundt, babka, strudel, schnecken, gugelhopf and Portuguese sweet bread, stollen and Polish Kowacz, puff pastry, charlotte dough and Danish pastry dough. You’ll find ample numbers of familiar favorites such as babka (raisin cheese, chocolate, cinnamon), coffee cake (I loved the “Flying Black Russian” variation with toasted pecans, Kahlua, and chocolate), cream horns, streudel, Danish, and poppy seed bars, along with delicious variations. There are also numerous base recipes such as chocolate custard, poppy butter, flavored nut sugars, and prune levkar that are sure to become staples in my baking repertoire.
One of the things that makes this book so special are the wonderful stories sprinkled throughout (I loved the “plenty fresh eggs” anecdote!), along with very insightful “baker’s secrets.” There is a very thorough description of baking supplies and materials, and the tone is informative, yet eminently approachable by even those new to the kitchen.Measurements are given in Imperial (both volume / weight) as well as metric. As a serious home baker, I really appreciated having the measurements in weight as well as metric.
The clarity of instructions combined with the numerous variations and updated flavor combos make this a baking book that I will turn to regularly, and I look forward to baking many recipes from it in the months to come!
(Review copy from Blogging for Books)