Book Review – Jewish Holiday Baking: Inspired Recipes for Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover and More by Uri Scheft
If your family is anything like mine, you can guarantee that the word “holiday” is synonymous with “food”. Hanukkah is no exception; for weeks before the actual first night, we were buzzing about trying new recipes for latkes, rugelach and maybe braving homemade sufganiyot (jelly donuts) for the first time. The arrival of Uri Scheft’s Jewish Holiday Baking was appropriately timed, bringing recipes for all these holiday classics and then some. After baking (and eating) more rugelach than I can count, I am happy to say I have a new favourite cookbook.
Baking brings people together. It creates community. This book reflects that, written in a conversational manner reminiscent of a grandparent sharing their favourite recipe. Scheft covers a range of Jewish and Israeli treats, accompanying recipes with a clear introduction, beautiful photos and all the insider information that a baker of any experience could hope for. As a bonus, the symbolism of the various baked goods featured in this cookbook is noted in both an informative and accessible way, so that any baker, Jewish or not, can fully embrace the importance of each item. Even if you are not a baker, and simply want to learn more about baking in Judaism and in Israeli culture, this book could be the one for you.
Though I have not yet braved the sufganiyot, I know that this is the book I will reach for when I am ready. Scheft’s collection is intriguing, inspiring, beautifully laid out and most certainly accessible. I would recommend this to bakers of all levels (and trust me, try the rugelach – it’s worth it).
Ginny Dunnill is a librarian at the Brighouse branch of Richmond Public Library. For more books like Jewish Holiday Baking, visit the Dayson Judaica Collection on the second floor of the Brighouse library.