This is not news to anyone, but, man, everyone is really baking in quarantine! Even as the restrictions ease in Boston, with patios and stores open again to the public, this really hasn’t been a pandemic. To borrow a term from Jay Martel’s “Lexicon for a Pandemic” in last week’s New Yorker, it’s been a “pan-demic”: “A potentially dangerous increase in the baking of bread in a quarantined home.”

Call it dangerous or not, this time of social distancing has certainly been a yeasty opportunity to hone, or should I say ferment (ha!), your bread skills. (I mean, I already wrote about my love of focaccia!) But as you do, may I suggest a few fun bread and baking recipes from our Jewish tradition? While sourdough can be fun, there are so many other delicious doughy creations from across the diaspora to add some fun challenge and extra pizzazz to your baking regimen.  

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Malai, a Romanian cheese cornbread. I like this recipe from Gil Mark’s “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.” It’s also an awesome Shavuot recipe, as an FYI. Pro tip: Marks’ authoritative tome on Jewish food from across the diaspora is available for download on Kindle and Google Play. I highly recommend downloading it to be able to scroll through the hundreds of amazing recipes while also maximizing space on your bookshelf.
  • Defo dabo, the Ethiopian Sabbath bread from Joan Nathan’s “King Solomon’s Table.” (Get the recipe here.) If you haven’t already taken a deep dive into Joan Nathan’s wonderful global Jewish cookbook, which came out in 2017, I highly recommend it.
  • Bialys, from Mimi Sheraton’s fabulous book “The Bialy Eaters,” borrowed from the Lost Past Remembered blog. Find the recipe here.
  • Pizza ebraica, a dried fruit-studded and wood-fired sweet bread from the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. This recipe from Joyce Goldstein, from her fabulous book “Cucina Ebraica” is my favorite. Don’t be afraid to get your pizzas dark in the oven; that way you can mimic the taste of the originals as they were pulled from the ghetto’s wood-fired oven.
  • Reshas, or reshikas, a sweet, crisp cookie-cracker like creation from the Sephardic community of Rhodes. My favorite recipe is from a blog called Bendichas Manos, whose title is based on a Ladino phrase meaning “blessed hands,” which is traditionally said of those who are excellent chefs. Show off our bendichas manos with this recipe.
  • Salouf, or saluf, a pita-like Yemenite flatbread. Everyone knows about jachnun and malawach, but not many people know about salouf. Here is a great recipe from R. Deborah Prinz (well-known for her fabulous book about the history of Jews and chocolate, “On the Chocolate Trail“), which is inspired by the book “Jewish Food: The World at the Table” by Matthew Goodman.

I hope these help you keep your pan-demic doughy, diverse and delicious!

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