Inside the Jew­ish Bak­ery: Recipes and Mem­o­ries from the Gold­en Age of Jew­ish Baking

Stan­ley Gins­berg and Nor­man Berg
  • Review
By – March 29, 2012

This delight­ful book is part his­to­ry, part cook­book. It takes read­ers back to the tra­di­tion­al Ashke­naz­ic Jew­ish bak­eries found in most Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties. One author, Berg, is a pro­fes­sion­al pas­try chef. The oth­er, Gins­berg, learned to cook and bake from his grand­moth­er. Both share a love for tra­di­tion­al baked goods. They begin with a short his­tor­i­cal overview and pro­ceed to infor­ma­tion about mea­sure­ment and ingre­di­ents. Chap­ters about bread, rolls, pas­tries and cake, cook­ies, Passover bak­ing, fill­ings and top­pings, and icings and fin­ish­es will teach read­ers about the ori­gins of the foods as well as the tech­niques for cre­at­ing them. Braid­ing a chal­lah, boil­ing bagels, or mak­ing sev­er­al kinds of bab­ka will be easy if one fol­lows the authors’ instruc­tions. Vin­tage black-and-white pho­tographs as well as col­or plates sup­ple­ment the text. A list of resources offers online sources for ingre­di­ents, equip­ment, infor­ma­tion, as well as his­to­ry and Yid­dish. Notes direct read­ers to fur­ther infor­ma­tion. Both cooks and his­to­ri­ans will enjoy this trip to the bakery.

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

Makes about three dozen.

31÷2 cups almond paste
3 large egg whites, beat­en
13÷4 cups gran­u­lat­ed sug­ar
3 large egg whites, beat­en
2 cups sliced almonds
1 egg + 1 tsp of water for wash
1/2 cup gran­u­lat­ed sug­ar
6 Tbs water
1/2 tsp light corn syrup or hon­ey

1. Pre­heat your oven to 375°F with your bak­ing sur­face in the mid­dle.

2. Cut or break the almond paste into small pieces and com­bine in the bowl of a stand mix­er with the first quan­ti­ty of egg whites and the 1 3/4 cups of sug­ar. Beat at low medi­um speed for 2 – 3 min­utes until ful­ly blend­ed into a smooth, lump-free paste.

3. Grad­u­al­ly add the remain­ing egg whites until the mix­ture is mod­er­ate­ly stiff and able to hold its shape. Be care­ful not to let it get too loose.

4. Put the mix­ture into a pas­try bag with either a large plain or star tip. If you don’t have a pas­try bag, use a one-gal­lon plas­tic freez­er bag with one cor­ner cut off. Pipe the dough onto parch­ment-lined sheet pans in 1″ to 1 1/2″ cir­cles, leav­ing about 1″ between cook­ies.

5. Let the mac­a­roons dry, uncov­ered, for 30 min­utes, then bake until gold­en brown, about 15 – 20 min­utes.

6. In a saucepan, bring the remain­ing sug­ar, water and corn syrup or hon­ey to a boil and con­tin­ue heat­ing for 3 – 4 min­utes until it thick­ens slight­ly and coats a spoon. Let cool.

7. Remove the mac­a­roons from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 min­utes. Very care­ful­ly glaze them with the sim­ple syrup or with 1/2 cup of melt­ed apri­cot jam.

8. Let the mac­a­roons cool com­plete­ly – at least one hour – before try­ing to remove them from the pans. Until thor­ough­ly cooled, they’re extreme­ly frag­ile, and han­dling them to soon will almost cer­tain­ly result in break­age. When cool, store in an air­tight con­tain­er. These are even bet­ter on the sec­ond day – if they last that long.

Reprint­ed with per­mis­sion from Inside the Jew­ish Bak­ery: Recipes and Mem­o­ries from the Gold­en Age of Jew­ish­Bak­ing by Stan­ley Gins­berg and Nor­man Berg, www​.camino​books​.com.

Read Stan­ley Gins­berg’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

What Is a Jew­ish Bak­ery”?

Sweet and Sour

From Scratch

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

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