Got almond paste? Time to make these mouth-watering cookies…Rainbow cookies.
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies
(Excerpts from Inside the Jewish Bakery
by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg © 2011 Camino Books
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. )
For cookies:Rainbow Cookies
1 cup almond paste, at room temperature
1 cup egg, beaten
½ cup shortening
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp table salt
1¾ cups + 2 tbs cake flour, unsifted
1¾ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp bitter almond oil or almond extract (optional)
15-20 drops red food coloring
15-20 drops yellow food coloring
15-20 drops green food coloring
¼ cup Apricot or raspberry jam, melted
Simple Chocolate Icing:
2¼ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup water
½ tsp light corn syrup or honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
3-4 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 400 ?F with your baking surface in the middle. In a mixing bowl, mash the almond paste using a fork. Using the whisk at medium (KA 6) speed, blend the almond paste and ¼ cup of the beaten egg until smooth and lump-free, 3-4 minutes.
Add the butter, shortening, salt and remaining egg and beat until soft and light in color, 7-8 minutes.
Add the flour ½ cup at a time, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts. Continue creaming until the batter is evenly mixed, with a very light texture.
Divide the batter into 3 equal portions of about 10oz each, and put each into a separate bowl. Add a different food coloring to each and whisk until thoroughly blended.
Pour the contents of each bowl into a well-greased 8” x 8”/20cm x 20cm square cake pan and bake until a tester comes out dry, 10-12 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool thoroughly. (If necessary, you can bake the batters in several stages: simply remove the cake from the pan, rinse and dry, re-grease and bake the next color.)
Melt the jam in the top of a double boiler or on very low heat to avoid burning. Brush as thin a layer of jam as possible on top of the green layer and immediately put the yellow layer on top. Repeat for the red layer, so that you end up with a multicolored block, with the jam as the glue.
Wrap the block in plastic and return into one of the baking pans. Use a second pan on top to compress the layers. Add 2-3lb of weight and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Make the simple icing by heating the water and corn syrup to boiling, then stirring in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract until well blended and lump-free. Take off the heat and let cool: the icing will be at optimal spreading temperature when it feels pleasantly warm on your lips.
Remove the cookie block from the refrigerator and cut into four 8” x 2” x 2”/20cm x 5cm x 5cm bricks. Using a metal spatula, apply a thin coating of icing to the top and long sides of each brick in a single smooth stroke, if possible.
Let cool until the icing has almost hardened and use a sharp knife to cut the bricks crosswise into ½”/1.25cm slices. These freeze very well.
Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the
Golden Age of Jewish Baking
There is nothing like being in a bakery, staring at counters full of baking delights, trays full of breads and bagels, and deciding what to buy. I should know; I grew up in a Jewish bakery. My fondest memories are of watching my father make bread and bagels, whistling while he worked, greeting friends and neighbors as they came to shop. In fact my first after-school job was working the counter in my father’s bakery.
Small, family-run Jewish bakeries that once lay at the heart of close-knit urban neighborhoods all over America have fallen victim to the demise of the old-school bakers, shifting demographics and economic realities. But two authors, Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg seek to keep the memories of these Jewish bakeries alive with their new book, Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Ages of Jewish Baking (Camino Books; October 2011; $24.95/hardcover; ISBN 978-1-933822-23-5). More than a collection of recipes, Inside the Jewish Bakery chronicles the history and traditions – as well as the distinctive baked goods – of Ashkenazi Jewry in Eastern Europe and its immigration to America. Utilizing a vast array of sources, the authors have crafted an engaging “edible history.”
“We wrote this book to preserve and celebrate the tastes and traditions of real Jewish baking and feelings of community they evoked. As such, this book is more than just another compendium of recipes and instructions; rather, it’s about a time when life was slower, simpler and perhaps a little better,” explains Stan Ginsberg. “Both Norm and I grew up in New York City’s outer boroughs in the decades following World War II. We both lived in close-knit, largely Jewish neighborhoods where neighbors knew neighbors, shopkeepers knew their customers, and mothers felt safe enough to park their baby carriages—infants included—unattended outside stores while they shopped. Business was based on trust, and rarely was that trust betrayed.”
Inside the Jewish Bakery provides home bakers of all skill levels recipes to recreate the authentically Jewish breads, pastries, cookies and cakes that once filled the shelves of neighborhood bakeries. The recipes themselves are based on the professional formulas used by America’s Jewish bakers during their Golden Age, adapted and tested for home kitchens.
In order to make high-volume bakery recipes easy for the home cook, the authors broke down their recipes into two elements: formulas for the doughs and batters that are the basis for most of the recipes, and the techniques used in mixing, shaping and finishing.
“Baking is a form of chemistry, and professional bakers use formulas exact as those in a chemist’s lab. The formulas in this book have never appeared in print, but were passed down from one generation of bakers to the next, whose task it was to carry on the old traditions and skills. Over the years, Norm accumulated thousands of these formulas. Many of them survive in battered notebooks, jotted down in baker’s notation; others were never written down but survive only in memory. Many more have been lost forever as aging master bakers leave this world and fewer younger people step up to carry on their craft.”
Inside the Jewish Bakery takes you inside a fast-disappearing tradition. It is a book that is timeless in its appeal and is a must-read for anyone interested in history, culture and baking. For home bakers who love and appreciate the lost art of the full service bakery the recipes preserved inside this unique cookbook recall those special Sunday mornings, holiday dinners and family occasions.
“Inside the Jewish Bakery is your ticket to the sumptuous tastes, techniques and memories of baking that were and [now] are a luscious amalgamation of many centuries and many countries, united under the banner of Jewish cuisine, a diverse heritage that is as much about what is on the plate as all that preceded it.”
Marcy Goldman, author of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, and The Baker’s Four Seasons
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Stanley Ginsberg, a native of Brooklyn, grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where generations lived side by side. He learned to cook and bake from his grandmother, who lived just upstairs in the same apartment building, and has continued cooking and baking ever since. His baking repertoire is eclectic, with a bias towards traditional Yiddish breads and pastries, as well as Central and Eastern European-style artisan breads. Stanley spent the greater part of his professional career as a business and financial writer, with time out for a stint on Wall Street. He and his wife, Sylvia, have four adult children and two standard poodles, and currently live in Southern California.
Norman Berg, a Bronx native, graduated from the baking program at New York City’s Food and Maritime Trades High School and spent the next 25 years as a professional baker and general manager at several bakeries that became Bronx institutions, including Weber’s, Enrico’s, Yonkers Pastry and Greystone Bakery. Over the years, Norm amassed more than 1,000 recipes for breads, cakes and pastries of every imaginable variety. Norm and his wife, Janet, still live in the Bronx. Their son, Nathan, followed in his father’s footsteps and has a successful career as a pastry chef at several well-regarded Bronx and Westchester, New York restaurants.
To learn more about the book go to http://www.InsidetheJewishBakery.com.
Inside the Jewish Bakery:
Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age Of Jewish Baking
By Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg
Camino Books; October 2011