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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jewish Holiday Baking

I’d like to tell you about a wonderful baking book I just discovered. By the time I caught up with it, the title was already printed as a 10th anniversary collection. Tells you how up-to-date I am!!

I first picked up A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman at the library. Someone displayed a collection of Jewish holiday books on top of a cabinet, I would guess for the Chanukah ahead.

When our boys first saw me reading it at the kitchen table, they teased me about picking up a Jewish baking book. But I reminded them that we share the same heritage as the Jews, and so I was very much interested. Well, the proof is in the pudding.

Wow! What awesome recipes! The first two I made were a huge hit with my family. The Blitz Cherry Cake is as easy as pie and tastes like a pound cake, yet it has no butter (well, it does use a lot of sugar and eggs, but it makes a big cake). Now, I do not like fussy recipes. From the mixing bowl to the oven is what I look for! This one is a cinch and will make you look like a professional baker. It also works well with blueberry pie filling. Delicious!

The other recipe was a knock-out. Okay, I want to get the name right for you. It’s called Chanukah Gelt Double Fudge Chocolate Layer Cake—None Better! While it sounds decadent and gooey, it really isn’t and it’s just right. Lots of cocoa flavor is round in your mouth and well balanced. Perhaps the bit of cinnamon required has something to do with that, as well as the warm cola or coffee added to the mix. And this cake requires nothing unusual; all the ingredients can be found in a humble pantry. For a professional look, take Mrs. Goldman’s advice and cover the sides with chocolate sprinkles. To make the icing nice and smooth, just use a metal icing spatula that was dipped in warm water; be sure to shake off the excess water. I made this for our son’s birthday, which is on The Epiphany. Maybe next year, I’ll decorate it with gold coins for the Three Kings.

Mrs. Goldman, a terrific writer, includes more than just recipes. She also takes the time to educate her readers of her Jewish heritage and baking prowess. You’ll enjoy her articles on the Jewish holidays and festivals, something we Catholics really should know more about as God’s people. I find them to be very instructive and thoughtful for those of us who just don’t know the details. I also enjoy her baking basics on things such as honey cakes, babkas, and homemade matzoh. Never knew, or even heard, about these things! The new 10th anniversary edition has more baking recipes than the original edition I checked out from the library, and it features a new bonus chapter of 30 cooking recipes, including instructions on how to make an awesome chicken soup.

After making two of her terrific cakes, I couldn’t wait to order my own copy. If you’d like to see A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Marcy Goldman, click here. Let me know what you think. And share with me what are your favorite recipes. I think I’ll try Almost-Nettie’s Cinnamon Meringue-Walnut Babka next.

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