Traditional Eastern European Jewish baking, along with the culture in which it evolved, is rapidly disappearing. Younger generations of American Jews are becoming increasingly assimilated into mainstream society. Small, family-run Jewish bakeries that once lay at the heart of their communities have fallen victim to the demise of the old-school bakers, shifting demographics and the economic firepower of diversified corporate food processors.
More than a collection of recipes, Inside the Jewish Bakery chronicles the history and traditions—as well as the distinctive baked goods—of Ashkenazic Jewry in Eastern Europe and America. Drawing on sources as diverse as the Talmud, Sholom Aleichem and the yizkor books that memorialize communities destroyed in the Holocaust, the authors have crafted an engaging “edible history” that endows their recipes with a powerful sense of time and place.
Here, home bakers of all skill levels will learn to recreate the authentically Jewish breads, pastries, cookies and cakes that once filled the shelves of neighborhood bakeries. The recipes themselves are based on the professional formulas used by America’s Jewish bakers during their Golden Age, adapted and tested for home kitchens.
In the chapter on rye bread, the authors present a range of recipes that span its history, from the dense black ryes of Eastern Europe and the traditional corn and deli ryes to today’s lighter, less intensely flavored breads. They show us the many faces of challah as it evolved through the centuries and recount the roots and Americanization of bagels and bialys—as well as recipes for a host of all-but-forgotten favorites like onion rolls, pletsl and salt sticks. And they evoke life in the traditional bakeries of decades past.
In the chapters on pastries, cakes and cookies, you’ll find recipes for sweet treats that have all but disappeared from America’s baking repertoire—noshes like Russian coffee cake, honey cake made with rye flour, mandelbroyt, marbled wonder cake and black and white cookies that made Sunday mornings and festive occasions so memorable. A special chapter on Passover baking provides recipes for a host of leaven-free desserts to grace the Seder table.
Inside the Jewish Bakery takes you inside a fast-disappearing tradition. It is a book that is timeless in its appeal and is required reading for anyone interested in Ashkenazic Jewish history, culture and baking.
About the Authors
Stanley Ginsberg, a native of Brooklyn, grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where generations lived side by side. He learned to cook and bake from his grandmother, who lived just upstairs in the same apartment building, and has continued cooking and baking ever since. He and his wife, Sylvia, currently live in Southern California.
Norman Berg, a Bronx native, graduated from the baking program at New York City’s Food and Maritime Trades High School and spent the next twenty-five years as a professional baker and general manager at several bakeries that became Bronx institutions, including Weber’s, Enrico’s, Yonkers Pastry and Greystone Bakery.