Light Jewish Holiday Desserts

Light Jewish Holiday Desserts

by Penny W. Eisenberg
     
 

When most people think of Jewish desserts, the same old rugelach, babka, and stale macaroons come to mind. Author Penny Eisenberg, in her new book, Light Jewish Holiday Desserts, proves that Jewish baking has so much more to offer, including cookies, Charlottes, turnovers, loaf cakes, layer cakes, Bundt cakes, Napoleons, and tarts. Most Jewish desserts are

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Overview

When most people think of Jewish desserts, the same old rugelach, babka, and stale macaroons come to mind. Author Penny Eisenberg, in her new book, Light Jewish Holiday Desserts, proves that Jewish baking has so much more to offer, including cookies, Charlottes, turnovers, loaf cakes, layer cakes, Bundt cakes, Napoleons, and tarts. Most Jewish desserts are also laden with fat, but Penny shows you, with her absolutely delicious recipes, how to cut the fat by as much as 75 percent in some caseswithout sacrificing any of the taste.

Jewish holidays are steeped in culture and tradition, so the chapters are organized by holiday and explain why certain foods and recipes are significant. Some recipes, though, are just fun, like the Chocolate Nut Roulade that can be shaped to look like a Torah for Simkat Torah. For Passover (Pesach), very strict guidelines must be followed, like no consumption of wheat flour, so Penny offers a Fresh Strawberry Torte with a crust made from ground matzoh.

Many of these recipes are so delicious, home cooks will want to prepare them year round. But come high holidays, these recipes are sure to impress family and friends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Written in a no-nonsense style, this baking book will expand the range of holiday treats without drastically expanding their waistlines. Caterer and cooking instructor Eiesenberg cuts much of the fat out of traditional recipes, replacing portions of the butter with lower-fat substitutions such as canola oil, nonfat sour cream and pureed fruits. Babka, for example, contains just three grams of fat rather than the usual 18. And Apple Latkes require less oil than usual. But Eisenberg has her priorities straight--flavor comes first. Aside from offering healthier variations, she also presents some unexpected variations. She enriches her repertoire with dozens of tempting ideas from Eastern European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern traditions. The recipes follow the calendar, from the High Holy Days to the Sabbath observed each week, providing a concise overview of each holiday's significance and the food associated with its celebration. For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur there's traditional Honey Cake and an Apple Mousse concoction. For Sukkot a refreshing Lemon Mousse Charlotte can grace the table, as well as a Deep Dish Pear Cherry Gratin topped with crunchy buttered bread crumbs. For Passover there's Fresh Strawberry Torte. Cookie recipes include chocolate spiral Rugelach with only one-third of the fat of unmodified recipes, as well as Sephardic Half Moon Cookies and date-filled Middle Eastern Filled Crescents. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Eisenberg, a caterer and cooking teacher, is also the author of Passover Desserts (Macmillan, 1996). In her new book, she offers desserts for Jewish holidays year-round, from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Shavuot, as well as special recipes for Shabbat (the Sabbath). She provides an introduction to each holiday, including a list of foods that are particularly symbolic. Recipes include both traditional favorites and more contemporary desserts and sweets; all are both low-fat and low-calorie. Marcy Goldman's Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking (LJ 9/15/98) features lots of desserts, not necessarily on the light side; larger collections could add Eisenberg's book as well. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688159856
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/18/1999
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

For thousands of years, adherence to Jewish dietary law (the laws of kashrut) was essential to the practice of Judaism. Then, as now, this was not an easy task and required meticulous daily attention to food procurement, preparation, service, and cleanup. Kashrut has made food a major part of Jewish life, a preoccupation that has had a profound effect upon Jewish culture. Because Jews could not eat food prepared by outsiders, and could only eat certain foods and/or food combinations, our cuisine has remained distinct, despite incorporation of new foods arid techniques from the lands to which we have been displaced. Perhaps intentionally, these laws have set the Jewish people apart in a fundamental way.

The Torah teaches us, indeed commands us, to celebrate our holidays with joyous feasting, to eat certain foods at certain times of the year, to honor our history and our God by eating symbolic foods. In the Torah we are also counseled to be mindful of our physical health as well as our spiritual health. As human beings, we are genetically programmed to seek out foods that are sweet and fatty. As Jews, we may eat these foods because they add immeasurably to our enjoyment of life, and because they are comfort foods that connect us to our past. We are a people with a long and joyful culinary history!

In the United States, most Jews are of Germanic, Russian, or Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews). Our traditional foods reflect this. But Jewish cooking worldwide is as varied as the Jews who cook it arid the places in which Jews have lived. Those who are unfamiliar with Sephardic cooking from the Mediterranean, through the Middle East, and into Asia might like to read ClaudiaRoden's wonderful anthology, The Book of Jewish Food. Throughout time Jews have adapted their cooking to the new lands in which they have found themselves, and that continues today as Jews move throughout the world. In this era, some maintain the laws of kashrut and some do not. We have less time for cooking we spend less time together and more time working at nonphysical labor. Health professionals counsel us to cut back on foods high in fat and cholesterol, but these are often the traditional foods to which we cling for comfort and historic connection. How can we make our desserts healthier and still maintain our culinary cultural identity? What will distinguish Jewish food from food just cooked by Jews?

I believe that the true essence of Jewish food is that it tells a story about who we are and where we have come from. Throughout the centuries Jews have been storytellers, passing along culture and values through words, song, and food. Although recipes may change over time, the symbolism of the food itself remains constant. By linking ingredients to stories, people, events, or values, we can continue to have food that will be quintessentially Jewish, even as it reflects our particular time and place in history. It does not matter if we serve honey cake, chiffon honey cake, or lowfat honey cake on Rosh Hashanah. What is important is that we recognize and talk about the significance of the honey.

The recipes in this book were created by using fat reduction techniques that I learned from reading some of the wonderful lowfat books previously published. Susan Purdy's Let Them Eat Cake and Alice Medrich's Chocolate and the Art of Lowfat Desserts were particularly helpful. Shirley Corriher's fabulous book, Cookwise, was also an indispensable aid in expanding my knowledge about food science. Nutritional values were calculated using Mastercook Deluxe and are included for information only; do not use for specific medical problems. Each recipe was tested again and again to create the best dessert with the least amount of fat. To satisfy the palate and the soul, however, some fat has been retained to preserve the mouth-feel and flavor of our beloved food. I hope these recipes will please you physically (they taste good!), intellectually (they're better for you!), and spiritually (they all contain the requisite symbolic ingredients). The chapters are arranged by holiday with explanations of the foods to eat for each celebration. Recipes are marked as pareve (containing neither meat nor dairy), dairy, or both, meaning that the choice is yours. Although representing different Jewish customs, each recipe uses traditional ingredients to tell a story, link us to our past, and celebrate our Jewishness. Enjoy!

I welcome your questions and comments. You can me E-mail at p2bakes@aol.com.


Zucchini Pear Loaf

This delightful "tea cake" is quick and easy to make. The combination of flours and rising agents is designed to provide the best texture and to limit the amount of browning, which otherwise would be excessive. Although the cake has only a small amount of oil, it is moist and tender.

MAKES 14 SERVINGS

12 ounces zucchini (about 3 medium)
1 cup sugar
1 cup (105 grams) sifted cake flour,
lightly sprinkled into measuring cup
1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour,
lightly sprinkled into measuring cup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup pear baby food
2 large eggs, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 3250F, with a rack in the middle of the oven. Spray-grease and flour a glass 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Peel the zucchini and shred it with a food processor shredding disk. Remove the shredder and insert the metal blade. Pulse-process the zucchini 2 or 3 times, just to shorten the zucchini strands. Measure out 2 1/4 cups and discard (or save) the remainder. Place the zucchini back in the processor or in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the nuts.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil, baby food, and eggs until well blended. Stir in the zucchini, making sure to scrape the bowl so that all of the sugar is mixed in.
  5. Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture, mixing just until all of the flour is moistened.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 75 to 85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a blunt knife, and then turn the cake out of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a rack. The cake can be made 1 day ahead. Store at room temperature, wrapped in aluminum foil, or freeze for up to 3 months. (Defrost the cake in its foil at room temperature overnight.)

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