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on February 3, 2012
Before attempting anything in this cookbook -- print out the errata page from:
[...]

It's a good book but loaded with mistakes -- metric conversions weren't correct when I went to make the cheese filling for the cheese pockets. I'm not happy right now. I've never seen a cookbook with so many errors in one recipe.

There's a very large errata page on the web site, which is good and is updated. So I'm making sure that I go through the book and make the corrections.

I'm sitting here with cheese filling with too many eggs plus who knows what else was wrong. Not happy, not happy.

What ever happened to good old fashioned proofreaders?
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on October 24, 2011
I recently received my copy of this wonderful book. I must say the recipes look great and the baked goods are to drool over. Last night I made the Onion Rolls and they were wonderful. This is a great collection of recipes and methods that are very hard to come by, written by a couple guys who know what they are talking about. For example, the instructions for making a Kaiser Roll are priceless.

The history and stories about the recent old days in the NY bakery scene are great reading.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be able to recreate the great old NY breads. Very well done.
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on November 17, 2011
I found the book to be full of wonderful historical cultural data that makes interesting reading and the recipes are fabulous. That said, this first edition contains quite a few errors that could generate confusion and failure, especially for the neophyte baker, when attempting to prepare some of the recipes. I wouldn't let that discourage me from purchasing the book however. The authors have made corrections readily available through a link to their web site [...] so they can be printed and added as addendum to the actual book. My "4" rating is based on the printing error issues. Otherwise, a "5" would be well deserved for this wonderful book.
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on November 3, 2011
I was one of the many, world-wide test bakers Stanley and Norm recruited. It was a blast--not quite up there with my first kiss--but well worth the time and effort. I baked, and frowned, and reveled, and frustrated, and cheered and moaned throughout. I'm not Jewish. I'm only recently an "upscale baker": what, for heaven's sake is Kornbroyt?. I'm impatient (I don't always read the instructions carefully.); but I love learning, learning recipes, and histories, and cultures more. Stanley and Norm have delivered. They've staked their claim in this world intent on homogenizing all of us. They've done their best to preserve those things learned at their Jewish grandparent's knees.

Oh, and by-the-way, they've also documented scores of recipes, passed down from family and friends, adapted to today's baking practices, in ways that satisfy. If you like to scoop, fluff, and measure--like Grandma did--you'll be at home. If you've adopted weight for your measure, you'll be served; Baker's Math takes its stand.

This book belongs on your shelve; even more, it belongs on your counter, flour dusted, open to yet another adventure in baking.

l'chaim!
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on October 20, 2011
I was one of the testers for the book and I loved all the recipes I tried. I couldn't wait to get my copy so I could try the other recipes that I didn't get to test. I am an enthusiastic amateur bread baker and am looking forward to trying all the different recipes for rye breads, challah, bagels, rolls, bialys and other breads. There are also some good cookie, pastry and cake recipes that I know my family will enjoy. I enjoyed reading about the history and culture as well. I highly recommend this book!
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on November 1, 2011
I got my copy less than a week ago, but it immediately drew me in, as this book is much more than a cookbook. It reveals true scholarship concerning the culinary history of Ashkenazic Jewish culture. Authors Stan Ginsberg and Norman Berg have done themselves proud. Don't get me wrong, this is also a remarkable collection of recipes, written in great detail. Even further, there are numerous stories of the baking life as experienced by co-author Norman Berg, a long-time baker from Queens, New York. This is a book of heart and soul. Even more, the book's web site has additional information, including unpublished chapters, which contain a wealth of information concerning ingredients and equipment used in baking. Clearly, this book, its organization, and its pre-publication information have been carefully crafted. This book is bound to become a classic.
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on August 31, 2013
I am extremely disappointed with the contents of this book. I was expecting authentic recipes from the traditional Jewish bakeries, as promised in the title. Instead, virtually every recipe for sweet pastry dough contains BUTTER and POWDERED MILK, ingredients which are virtually never used in kosher baked good, except for specialty dairy items such as cheesecake or cheese-filled pastry.

General kosher baked goods must be pareve (that is, contain no meat or dairy ingredients) so that the customer may enjoy them with any meal. A baked good that contains powdered milk or butter in the dough but is not visibly dairy (such as cheese-filled or pizza) should not be sold at a kosher bakery because a customer might make a mistake and consume it with a meat meal. Powdered milk in HAMBURGER BUNS? No way.

Either the authors of this book are so ignorant they do not even know about the basic requirements of kosher baking, or they know but don't care, which is very insulting to those of us who observe kashrus.

I have a large collection of cookbooks, most of them are not kosher and for those recipes I automatically make substitutions where dairy or non-kosher ingredients are listed. However in a cookbook that promotes itself is being "from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking" I should not have to do that!

This book is being returned to Amazon for a refund. I give it two stars for the nice layout.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 3, 2014
OK, I make challah frequently for use as sandwich bread, so I moved along to things I have eaten in great LA bakeries, but never tried to make. I finally decided to make the onion pockets first. WOW! Good thing I made a double batch. I had family visiting from out of town and they gobbled them up. The almond horns were also a big hit the next morning with scrambled eggs. The rye breads are better tasting than any I have ever made before, and it goes without saying, so much better than anything from a grocery store.

So what's so special about these recipes and this book? The cultural history was interesting, but I've heard most of it before from my grandparents who "came over here on the boat", and opened a Jewish bakery in New York. What's so special to me is the recreation of those terrific breads and pastries that I not only ate in my grandparents home, but later bought in many, now long closed, bakeries in Los Angeles. I have tried so many recipes in other cookbooks, even Reinhart's, and they just don't come close to the terrific taste you get from the recipes in this book. It's just something I can't explain.

The photos are beautiful and as for the directions, I am grateful that there is an internet, and web site now, where I can get the corrections. There are still a few mistakes (2nd edition), I really don't care. I know now that all the breads I made in the 60's that turned out bad, were maybe not my fault. I'm sure there were mistakes in those early books that I wasn't aware of.

All I can say is that everything in this book tastes better than anything I have ever made before from other bread, roll, cake or pastry books. Everything in this book is unique, and even though some things have gone mainstream like bagels, these are all cultural icons not to be forgotten, but enjoyed by everyone.

UPDATE: I just made Kaiser rolls. The instructions on how to fold them was worth the price of the book! They turned out perfectly shaped. BTW, I used the challah recipe because we like the taste better. The shaping technique also works great for small dinner rolls.
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on October 29, 2011
I got this book, and had to put off starting to read it until after I had gotten my husband off to work.
I then sat down and read it through, the entire book, the historical information and every recipe. While I read, I thought of the generations of people who were displaced, who had an identity that was at times reviled, and others admired, and who certainly never stopped trying.
I am not Jewish or to my knowledge have any Jewish ancestors, but the story is the same whether its Jews, or Scots (my main background) oppression, and having to leave what is known for the unknown, but taking ones identity with them.
The book took me five hours to read through, and I was totally moved to tears at times, laughter at others, and the desire to explore the baking and taste of an era that I grew up in, but not the place! I dearly wish to try the breads, the cakes and the cookies, not because I can't or haven't had some of them (mostly commercial and definitely not the same) but to have that sense of history.
I bake family recipes all the time, because it gives me that sense of belonging, and I think that its sad that the Jewish community have lost some of theirs, with no family bakeries and the Jewish way of life being assimilated into the modern culture. Maybe this will inspire some of them to bake and understand their family decisions to come to the New World,and to take back some of their traditions and roots, or better yet to start some of their own with their children.
Not just another cookbook, or bread book, but a book written with love, and history and baking entwined in its soul.
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on June 13, 2014
I thought it was a good book in general. I learned a few tidbits about bread making I hadn't read in various other bread books and that was great. The errata most people who gave the book a poor rating was already corrected in the 2011 book that I have and therefore didn't impact the making of bread. I did not look at the pastry section to see if it was updated but I assume it was since the bread section had the necessary corrections from the website.

The book would have been considerably improved for the home baker if the recipes would have just used regular bread flour with the addition of the correct amount of vital gluten added. It is very difficult or expensive to find flours like "first clear", "high gluten flour" or even "strong bread flour". If they used regular bread flour which can be found anywhere and added the correct amount of vital gluten the home baker certainly would have been better off. I now am left to experimenting with the various recipes to determine the correct amount of vital gluten to add to each cup of regular bread flour to simulate the various specialty flours called for in the recipes

I do believe that this books adds some good information to the knowledge base of the home bread maker and would recommend it.

6/13/2014

I made the assumption when I said "solid recipes" in my tag line that these were tried and true by the authors for home. They might work on a commercial scale but when trying these recipe myself I've come to the conclusion that the writers NEVER actually baked any of the bread recipes. They simply took what were commercial recipes and downsized them for those at home expecting the results to be the same. THEY ARE NOT! One example I tried is for "Sweet Rye". The eight grams of instant yeast for what amounts to two small loafs just isn't enough yeast for the bread to expand near double in four hours let alone under two. It might work if given twenty four hours. It's obvious that adjustments have to be made not only using vital gluten but the amount of yeast must be reviewed and adjusted also. However using the sour instead of yeast did produce a good pair of loaves. I'll assume it is only the yeast breads that are suspect and care should be taken by the home baker.

4/10/2015
I've tried a few more to see if maybe just one or two didn't work out, but I was disappointed with still more. I was sitting around trying to figure out why and took to my calculator and pen. First I discovered the three main rye bread recipes were all over the place when it come to water content. The Old School Jewish Rye was at 57%, the Mild Deli Rye was at 59.5, so far so good, but the Sweet Rye was at 65.6%. Since all three are essentially the same with minor difference in rye content that would never justify this much variance in water content. Then we come to a bigger problem, time under temperature. The Old School Jewish Rye bakes for 36 minutes at 375, for 805 grams of flour, the Mild Deli Rye baked for 35/40 minutes at 350 for 890 grams of flour (OK, that might be ok because it's slightly larger) and finally the Sweet Jewish Rye baked for 50/60 minutes at 375 for only 785 grams of flour (wow, do we really bake this loaf that much longer for a smaller loaf?). Did anyone else but me see that there is a huge variance in baking time between the breads? The baking time should vary slightly based on volume of each loaf and also on how much rye each contained and to some degree the water content. The wide gap of 36 versus 50/60 minutes for a smaller loaf makes no sense at all. Oh, you really can't go by temperature as many books suggest. A loaf of any rye reaches 195/205 before it's fully baked. You need to get the time in first and then check the temperature. Oh, for anyone interested the longer baking time is more correct. With the opening and closing of the oven for steam will give you a soggy loaf at 35/36 minutes instead of a solid rye loaf after baking. OK, so what is correct? The book called "Bread" lists a Caraway Rye that runs 68% water with 40% Rye flour. The baking time for the same size loaf is 460 degrees for 15 minutes and 20/25 minutes at 440 degrees, for a total of 35 to 40 minute at a whopping higher 450 degree average temperature than the 350/375 in this book with shorter times. And yes, I've baked the Bread books recipe and it comes out perfect every time.
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