The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer: Giveaway & Babka Bites

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The holidays are upon us. So much craziness. I’m thrilled that I get a fresh dinner on the table –  let alone somehow manage to pull off a holiday meal. Each day I come home from work with a new menu idea and a new shopping list. I know I should probably just stick to just one idea, but I’m always inspired by new things I see. My menu tends to change up until the actual holiday day. As long as it’s a holiday I can cook on, I tend to play and go with whatever my mood dictates.  As long as I have some fresh veggies and proteins on hand, I’m good to go.

The only thing I have trouble with though is dessert. I love chocolate and cookies as much as every other person out there, but I’m not always creative about it. 90% of the time, I tend to rely on my trusty cookbooks.

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That’s where a book like The Holiday Baker by Paula Shoyer comes in. This cookbook is filled with fabulous treats to bake up in my kitchen. Paula Shoyer makes holiday desserts simple to create. Her recipes are easy to follow and the photos in the cookbook make me want to make and eat everything right away. She even has a fantastic section on must-have tools and tips. Was thrilled to get a copy of the cookbook this holiday season. My daughter has flagged about 10 recipes that I MUST make. Everything with chocolate was at the top of my list.

Paula Shoyer’s recipe for Babka Bites are on my must-make list. Such an amazing treat and the recipe is super easy to follow. I highly recommend you make this now.

Don’t forget to enter this fabulous giveaway for this amazing cookbook!

Shana Tova! Happy New Year. May you have a happy and sweet New Year!



Babka Bites
 
Recipe from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer Sterling / November 2013
Author:

Ingredients
Dough
  • ¼ cup (60ml) warm water
  • ½ ounce (2 envelopes; 14g) dry yeast
  • ¼ cup (50g) plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 2 ½ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
  • dash salt
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) margarine, at room temperature for at least 15 minutes
  • ¼ cup (60ml) canola oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
Filling
  • ½ cup (1 stick; 113g) margarine, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
  • ¼ cup (20g) unsweetened cocoa
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup (60g) mini chocolate chips

Instructions
To make the dough:
  1. PLACE WARM WATER, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and let it sit for 10 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add the ¼ cup (50g) sugar, flour, salt, margarine, oil, egg, and egg white.
  2. Combine with a wooden spoon or a dough hook in a stand mixer until all the ingredients are mixed in. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 1 ½ hours.
To make the filling:
  1. PLACE THE MARGARINE into a medium or large bowl and beat until creamy. Add the cocoa and sugar and beat until combined. Cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature while the dough is rising.
  2. PREHEAT OVEN to 325°F (160°C). Place mini muffin papers into a 12-cup mini muffin pan. You will need to bake Babka Bites in batches.
To assemble and bake:
  1. AFTER THE DOUGH HAS RISEN, divide it in half. On a large piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a little flour, roll each piece of dough into a 9 x 12-inch (23 x 30-cm) rectangle so that the 12-inch (30-cm) side is facing you. Sprinkle a little flour on the rolling pin if the dough starts to stick to it. Use a silicone spatula to spread half the chocolate filling all the way to the edges. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips all over the chocolate filling and roll up tightly the long way. Cut into ½-inch (1.25-cm)
  2. slices and place one into each of the muffin cups, cut side up. You will have about 24 slices. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  3. BAKE for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.

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Cookbook Review: "The Kosher Baker" by Paul Shoyer

When I say I’m a hesitant baker, I really do mean it. I can tackle challahs and and make a mean oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but when it comes to real baking – I get the jitters. I need good, easy recipes and techniques or a Betty Crocker mix to get me through the yummy sweet stuff.

So, when “The Kosher Baker” by Paula Shoyer showed up at my doorstep, I was excited and nervous. I have a lot of cookbooks on my shelves, but very few baking books. I asked my daughter to pick out a few recipes. Then I sat in a corner and paged through the book – deciding what to make first.

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I was impressed by the variety of recipes in this book. From simple cookies and cakes to tarts and babkas to macarons and challahs. This cookbook has a baked treat for everyone.

I love that right from the beginning, the table of contents breaks the recipes down by ease of preparation. It makes someone like me more at ease. I also love that this cookbook is dairy-free. It gives options for margarine and soy-based dairy alternatives, allowing  the home cook to delve in to all areas of baking. Throughout the cookbook, you will also find that the recipe ingredients are not very complicated. Many of the ingredients are those that you already have in your home and the others are very easy to find in a regular supermarket.

Paula Shoyer eases the home cook in to baking with a nice introduction to baking – instructing cooks on the basic tools and pantry staples. She also gives us some helpful cooking tips to help with the process. From how to crack eggs, to baking in water baths – Shoyer explains the various tricks of the trade.

In addition to the nice overview of the kitchen to help you, there are numerous photos to draw you in to each recipe.  I know that the photo is often the deciding factor of whether or not I will try that recipe. Her photos even include some lovely step-by-step shots for some of the more intricate recipes.

The first recipe I was pulled in to, were the Scones au Chocolate. The chocolate oozing out of the scone got to me. I had to make that first. The recipe and instructions were spot on. The Scones pleased everyone in the room.

Later, I decided to try out something fruity. I turned to her rasbperry bars. I am always a sucker for raspberry bars and I had all of the ingredients in my house. I was also struck by her technique for the crust topping – which included shaving the dough on to the raspberry filling. So creative!

When I set out to make the raspberry bars, I was once again left feeling happy. Paula Shoyer’s step-by-step instructions leave nothing out and are very easy to understand. The rasbperry bars came out perfectly, with no complaints.

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Overall, I would definitely recommend “The Kosher Baker” for someone looking for a baking book to ease in to. If you are looking for simple and easy to follow recipes that happen to be pareve, then this is the book for you. I am sure I will be turning to this cookbook when the holidays come around again, as there are so many recipes to pick from.

I am sharing with you her raspberry bar recipe. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Raspberry Bars
by Paula Shoyer, “The Kosher Baker”

Crust: 
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) pareve margarine, frozen for 15 minutes, plus extra for greasing pan and parchment paper
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
12 oz (1 1/2 cups) seedless red raspberry jam

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with some margarine.

Place a piece of parchment in the pan that is large enough to go up the sides and hang over a few inches. Grease the top and sides of the parchment.

To make the crust:Place the flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for 10 seconds. Cut the margarine into pieces and add to the bowl with the vanilla. (You can also make the crust by hand by cutting the margarine in to the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or two knives.) Process or hand mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough in to two parts, 1/3 and 2/3 of the dough. Wrap the smaller piece in plastic, flatten and place in the freezer. Take the larger piece and break it into pieces and scatter over the parchment. Press the pieces into the pan as evenly as you can. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.Use a silicone spatula to spread the jam all over the crust in the pan. Remove the other dough piece from the freezer, and using the large holes of a box grater, grate the remaining dough over the filling. Use your hands to spread the grated dough all over to cover the filling.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let cool. Trim off about 1/4 inch of the sides and then cut into squares or long bars.

Enjoy!

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