By – January 20, 2021

An apri­cot rugelach that sealed a mar­riage pro­pos­al. Suf­ganiy­ot that evoke Sun­day morn­ing strolls on the water’s edge in Port Mel­bourne. A Ben & Jerry’s – inspired charoset ice cream. Every sweet has a sto­ry in the Mon­day Morn­ing Cook­ing Club’s fourth out­put, Now for Some­thing Sweet. 

There’s some­thing about the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty and cake,” the women of MMCC write in the intro­duc­tion. In their newest col­lec­tion of crowd-sourced heir­loom recipes — this time strict­ly dessert — the Aus­tralian Sis­ter­hood” appears to be in search of just what that some­thing” is.

Some­thing Sweet, like past MMCC works,strikes at the heart of what Jew­ish dias­poric cui­sine is — both far-reach­ing and inti­mate. It’s also their brand’s charm. The recipes span con­ti­nents, gen­er­a­tions, and, of course, fla­vors. But the sto­ries have con­nec­tive tis­sue: pas­sion and poignan­cy. More than any­thing, read­ing Some­thing Sweet is like being invit­ed into a warm kitchen and told cher­ished fam­i­ly lore.

Although the book fea­tures dish­es that might be com­plex for the begin­ning bak­er, it also includes help­ful resources on the basics. The Kitchen Notes” sec­tion offers a primer on mea­sure­ments, equip­ment, ingre­di­ents and tech­nique, while the sec­tions on how to bake cake, pas­try, and oth­er sta­ples advise novices and any­one need­ing a refresh­er with suc­cinct expla­na­tions and some­times step-by-step pho­to guides.

The chif­fon sec­tion stands out as a high­light. It’s hard not to smile when read­ing MMCC mem­ber Mere­lyn Frank describ­ing a pop­py seed chif­fon made famous all over Perth” by her late moth­er, Yolan. Frank reveals that it was even occa­sion­al­ly smug­gled by air­plane to friends in France. The prized recipe, long kept secret, is here. There’s also a note­wor­thy you-won’t‑believe-it’s‑kosher-for-Passover Nut Chif­fon, which uti­lizes mat­zo meal and pota­to flour.

Don’t wor­ry. Any­one try­ing chif­fon for the first time can con­sult the How to Chif­fon” section.

Fans of Shavuot should rejoice, too. The sweet cheese sec­tion is filled with cre­ations per­fect for the Jew­ish calendar’s dairy fes­ti­val. From a polen­ta-crust­ed Roman­ian loaf to an apri­cot-stud­ded kolac (Czech-style pas­try), every­thing here is worth try­ing. The South African cheese­cake, an old MMCC favorite from The Food, the Sto­ries, the Sis­ter­hood, is tweaked in this sec­tion to glo­ri­ous perfection.

We’re liv­ing in a moment when com­mu­ni­ties every­where are explor­ing and reimag­in­ing what con­nec­tion means. That’s what the Sis­ter­hood” does through the uni­ver­sal lan­guage of food. Right when we all need­ed it, the Mon­day Morn­ing Cook­ing Club has deliv­ered some­thing spe­cial — or rather, Some­thing Sweet. 

Oren Peleg is a Los Ange­les-based writer. He lives with his husky Har­ri­son Ford and is on a mis­sion to make the per­fect hummus.

Discussion Questions

Now for Some­thing Sweet is an ode to the long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of Jew­ish Sis­ter­hood com­mu­ni­ty cook­books, part of a genre that food schol­ars regard as social his­to­ry. Here, the Mon­day Morn­ing Cook­ing Club sis­ter­hood” of Syd­ney paints a vibrant pic­ture of the Jew­ish Dias­po­ra in Aus­tralia. Through recipes and vignettes about each con­trib­u­tor, a sto­ry unfolds of the migra­to­ry routes tak­en and hard­ships endured that pro­duced today’s diverse Antipodean Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. Recipes for Per­sian Short­bread, South African Cheese­cake, Roman­ian Malai, Alfa­jores, Russ­ian Hon­ey Cake, and Moroc­can Fishue­las, as well as blintzes and bab­ka, trans­port us to Jew­ish kitchens across time and space. The back­sto­ry of hon­ey-and-nut Trava­dos makes us curi­ous about the Sephar­di ladies of Zim­bab­we and about oth­er Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties with whose culi­nary tra­di­tions we may not be famil­iar. The beau­ti­ful­ly pho­tographed and designed book is divid­ed into such tempt­ing chap­ters as The Every­day Cake, The Occa­sion Cake, and Sweet Cheese, each con­tain­ing recipes rich with mem­o­ry and those very much of today. Now for Some­thing Sweet wel­comes us with a cup of tea and an open bis­cuit tin into a lov­ing Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty to hear a sto­ry at once spe­cif­ic and universal.