There are plenty of Jewish bakeries and delis serving baked goods out there, but there are not all that many cookbooks dedicated just to Jewish baking. Instead, the recipes find their way into other cookbooks here and there and there simply aren’t many place to find recipes for everything from bagels to rugelach and all of your favorite Jewish deli breads in one volume. Inside the Jewish Bakery is a book that covers all of these bases. The book was put together to preserve the recipes and baking traditions of the numerous small Jewish bakeries that the authors grew up knowing in their neighborhoods in the outer boroughs of New York City.
The introduction of the book talks about Jewish history, how certain culinary traditions developed and how the archetypical Jewish bakery serving breads from different Jewish communities all over the world came to be in America. There is also a portion of the introduction dedicated to the basics of baking breads and working with yeast. From there, the book goes into the recipes. The recipes are all given in four measurements: volume, ounces, grams and baker’s percentages. The instructions themselves are very detailed, clearly written and easy to follow along with. Experienced bakers will have an easy time with the recipes and novice bakers trying out their first rye breads shouldn’t feel intimidated as they read through the recipes, either. There are baking tips throughout the book and short blurbs with historical facts about the recipes, as well.
This book just might put you in the mood to visit your local deli and pick up some bread (before you come home to bake some yourself, of course) because as you read through the histories, you’ll find that you can almost smell the breads baking. There are plenty of photos in the book, but they aren’t as inspirational as the text and recipes themselves. This is because the photos look very amateurish, with lighting and composition issues that you wouldn’t see on most food blogs. The photos look this way for a good reason: they were all provided by home cooks who tested out the recipes in the book and they’re intended to show exactly the results you can expect when baking at home. It’s a very, very charming idea, but I would have preferred to see a mix of amateur and professional photos, so that I could see the “home baker” results as well as flattering photos of bakery-quality loaves that look as good as all of these recipes sound.