Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker, “your weekly Shabbat dessert handbook,” has created another cookbook: The Holiday Kosher Baker. Impetus for writing this new book came during the book tour for her first book. She met so many people who clamored for instruction and inspiration in baking for the Jewish holidays, and she writes, “This convinced me that I had to keep going, pushing the community toward even better, more contemporary, easier, and healthier desserts. The kosher baking revolution continues.”
A Facelift for Traditional Jewish Recipes
Explaining the contents of her new book, The Holiday Kosher Baker, Shoyer writes, “The recipes here reflect a modern sensibility for healthier desserts and an exciting fusion of flavors, with a generous peppering of international desserts. This is a new era for Jewish bakers to showcase at home the same desserts they see in the mainstream. In this you have a guidebook that shows you how to create new, creative, and yet holiday-appropriate desserts that no longer reflect the same old, same old approach that we have used for a generation. It is time to take a step forward, get into the kitchen, and realize that a new world of baking is at your fingertips.”
This beautiful hard-bound cookbook contains sections on:
• Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
The Yield of Our Efforts
Mouthwatering photos accompany 78 of the 116 recipes, and each recipe has a note indicating its difficulty. I conscripted help from our head waitress, Amanda, at our Latigo Guest Ranch. Amanda, who also enjoys baking, helped make four of the recipes in the book, and then our hungry staff did their part in assessing the quality of each creation.
The Chewy Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies on page 76 were labeled as an easy recipe, and they did come together simply. One of our ranch hands claimed, “The chocolate is not overpowering, so you could easily eat 10 of them.”
The Classic Challah on page 65 was of moderate difficulty, but the directions were clear and accurate. We found the recommended baking time too long, so we pulled the golden loaves at least 10 minutes early. The warm, sweet bread was adored by guests and staff alike.
We found the Mocha and Whisky Chocolate Bread Pudding on page 48 a bit dry, but it offered a satisfyingly unique flavor.
The Raspberry Hamantaschen (triangle cookies) on page 100 were delightful. They are a terrific showcase for fresh raspberries, and, being made with canola oil instead of shortening or margarine, they are a healthy cookie to enjoy.
History Tied In
Not having much exposure with the Jewish community or heritage, yet having a great deal of exposure to the Old and New Testament, I found the explanations of the Jewish holidays quite interesting. The Hamantaschen I made (photo included) are often prepared to celebrate Purim. The Book of Esther in the Old Testament explains the story of the survival of the Jews despite Haman’s efforts to have them exterminated.
Shoyer writes, “On Purim, we eat triangular shaped cookies called hamantaschen (a reference to the three-pointed hat believed to have been worn by Haman) that are filled with jam, poppy seeds, prunes, or chocolate. The filling is mostly hidden, and only when we break open the cookie do we experience the flavor inside. Just like the filling in the hamantaschen, the role of God in the Purim story is hidden. The story, albeit dramatic, is really a series of mundane events: a beauty contest, a few parties, palace intrigue, and a parade. Only when we look back at all of the events do we see that the series of “coincidences” that together saves the Jews could only have come from the hand of God. Just as with the hamantaschen, the true significance of the holiday unfolds. We should always look for the hidden and deeper meaning of our experiences in life as a way to acknowledge the unseen forces in the world.”
Who Needs This Book
The Holiday Kosher Baker belongs in an easy-to-reach spot in any cook’s kitchen, but especially Jewish cooks. If Jewish tradition is important to your family, and you want to inspire your children to pass your recipes onto their children, Paula Shoyer’s book will help you create memorable food to accompany each significant religious holiday celebrated at your table. — by Lisa George, RFT Cookbook Editor, Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado