Every bakery has their specialties. For many bakeries these days, those signature recipes include classic American baked goods, such as drop cookies, cupcakes and layer cakes. There are many more traditional bakeries out there that are still in touch with their immigrant roots and serve up specialties that are even more beloved than that cream-filled cupcake. In A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets: Recipes from a New York Baking Legend for Strudel, Stollen, Danishes, Puff Pastry, and More, readers will find dozens of recipes for classic Jewish pastries that can all be made at home. These are the types of baked goods that have been made for generations and, in this book, they are being passed on to the readers. This book is dedicated to the father of the authors and, sweetly, they even included one of his favorite recipes in the introduction of the book when they found it didn’t quite fit anywhere else.
The first chapter of the book is all about ingredients and equipment, as having the proper tools in your kitchen is what will set you up for success. They start with the oven – a piece of vital kitchen equipment that is often taken for granted by other baking book introductions – and remind readers just how important it is to ensure that your oven bakes evenly. The book offers tips that you can use to allow additional browning or prevent excess browning, so that your baked goods turn out perfect every time. The first chapter is comprehensive and a great guideline for those whose kitchens aren’t completely set up yet, as well as a great reminder for those of us who might need a fresh eye on our kitchen tools. From there, the book jumps into the recipes. The chapters are divided into recipes by type, with a chapter on basic recipes that will be used repeatedly. The Chapters include: Bundt, Babka, Strudel, Gugelhopf and Portuguese Sweet Bread, Stollen and Polish Kolacz, Puff Pastry, Charlotte Dough, and Danish Pastries.
The recipes are written clearly and with great attention to detail. The instructions are very encouraging and even recipes such as the strudel dough, which requires a labor-intensive hand-pulling technique, seem approachable. Additional tips and tricks for perfecting the recipes are sprinkled throughout the book. The only thing lacking is that there are no photos to illustrate the recipes. Fortuantely, many of these recipes are such classics that it is easy to imagine what they look like – or you could simply take a quick trip down to your nearest bakery to see how the pros are doing it before you get to work on your own.