Book Review: Inside the Jewish Bakery

This book is a love song to a bygone era and a disappearing icon, the Jewish bakery. It is not about home baking; many of these recipes have never before been written down for the home cook. Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Goden Age of Jewish Baking adapted the measurements for home cooking, but no ingredients have been left out. Online resources are provided for those ingredients unavailable at you local grocery store.

Authors and bakers Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg provide measurements in standard U.S. teaspoons and cups (volume), weight (ounces and pounds), Metric (grams), and baker’s percentages (for those of you still left out there). For the sake of simplicity, we are reprinting the recipes here with only volume and metric.

As with older homemaker cookbooks, there are indepth descriptions of ingredients. Directions are detailed and specific (e.g. flour). In many ways, with its histories, photographs and profiles, this is as much of a textbook as it is a a cookbook. Some of the methods vary from your usual home cookbook, so it takes a little extra attention. Make sure to read each recipe through carefully from start to finish before embarking on the task.

Sufganiyot is right in time for Hannukah, and of course we had to test the challah. Next on my list — black and white cookies!

Recipes from the book after the jump!

JELLY DOUGHNUTS (SUFGANIYOT)

1/2 cup shortening (100g)

2/3 cup granulated sugar (130g)

2 3/4 teaspoons Table salt (16g)

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (65g)

2 large eggs, beaten (100g)

2 1/4 cups water (540g)

1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (16g)

Zest of 1 lemon (8g)

6 2/3 cups bread flour, unsifted (925g)

2 Tablespoons plus 2 1/4 Tablespoons Instant yeast (35g)

Jelly

1. Put the shortening, sugar, salt and dry milk into a mixing bowl and blend until smooth, about 8 to 20 minutes if mixing by hand and about 4 to 5 minutes using the flat paddle beater at medium (KA 4) speed if by machine.

2. Beat the egg lightly and incorporate into the shortening mixture and continue blending until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the water and flavorings, mixing to form a slurry.

3. Reduce to slow (KA 2) speed and slowly incorporate the flour and instant yeast, forming a smooth dough.

4. Switch to the dough hook and knead for another 8 to 20 minutes, until the dough forms a ball around the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s no longer sticky, then form it into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and ferment until doubled, about 45 minutes.

6. Turn the dough out onto a moderately floured board, flour the top surface lightly but evenly to prevent sticking and punch down. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4 inch/.6cm. Scale the dough to 1 to 2-ounce/30 to 55 g pieces, roll into balls, and flatten to 3/8 inch/1 cm thick.

7. Preheat your frying oil to 350 to 275F/175 to 190C.

8. Proof until slightly less than double in size and a finger pressed in the dough leaves an indentation that doesn’t spring back, 45 to 60 minutes. be very careful when handling the doughnuts, as too much touching will result in a collapsed product. Do not under any circumstances transfer the donuts to the oil by hand.

9. Lower the frying screen with the doughnuts into the oil and fry until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the doughnuts with a wooden spoon or bamboo chopsticks and fry for another minute.

10. Lift the frying screen and the doughnuts out of the oil, let any excess oil run off and transfer t paper towels to drain.

11. When cool, use a pastry bag and plain tip to inject with jelly or other smooth filling, and top with powdered sugar.

 

SWEET AND RICH CHALLAH

1 3/4 cups bread flour  (225g)

3/1/2 teaspoons Instant yeast (14g)

1 cup Water (225g)

4 cups bread flour (565g)

3/4 cup granulated sugar (155g)

2 1/4 teaspoons table salt (14g)

3 Large eggs, beaten (150g)

1 egg yolk, large (18g)

1/2 cup Vegetable oil (100g)

1 large Egg, lightly beaten for glazing (50g)

2 Tablespoons poppy, sesame or chernushka seeds (15g)

1. Combine the first quantity of four, instant yeast and water into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of the mixer and beat by hand into a smooth, thick paste. Set in a warm place, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes until sponge mixture becomes frothy.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and oil until blended and set aside.

3. Add the liquid ingredients to the sponge. Use the flat (paddle) beater to blend at a low (KA 2) speed until blended, then gradually ass remaining flour, sugar and salt and continue mixing until the dough is evenly is evenly hydrated and comes together in a shaggy mass, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Switch to the dough hook, if using a stand mixer, and knead at low (KA 2) speed for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough forms into a smooth, glossy ball that leaves the side of the bowl. If kneading by hand. turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Form the dough into a large ball, put into a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and let ferment until doubled in bulk, 60 to 90 minutes.

6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and knead it for 1 minute or so, then divide into 2 pieces of approximately 24 ounces/680 grams each.

7. Divide into as many pieces as appropriate for the braid you’re using. Roll each piece into a tight ball, cover them with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 to 30 minutes to relax the gluten.

8. Using your hands, roll each piece into a long sausage that is thick in the middle and tapers to a point at the ends. Braid [photo guide is in the book].

9. Put the braided loaves on a piece of baking parchment, cover them with a damp towel and allow them to proof until the dough doesn’t spring back when a finger is presed into it.

10. About 30 minutes before bake time, preheat your oven to 350F/175C with the baking rack in the middle.

11. Brush each loaf lightly with the beaten egg, wait one minute then give them a second coat. Sprinkle with poppy, sesame or chernushka seeds to taste.

12. Slide the loaves and parchment onto your baking stone or bake on a sheet pan for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the loaves halfway through baking so they will brown evenly.

Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and let cool for at least an hour before cutting.

 

As Ginsberg and Berg wrote so eloquently in their introduction, “For us, this book is an act of memory, and by remembering and sharing it with others who will remember, the Yiddish baking traditions we know and love will never die.”

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Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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