December 03, 2012
This past summer I spent every waking moment working on my second cookbook, The Holiday Kosher Baker, out August 2013 (Sterling). It will contain 120 dessert recipes organized by each Jewish holiday and include a huge Passover dessert section as well as a dairy chapter. So many fabulous home cooks dream about publishing their own cookbooks, so I wanted to offer a window into that process.
To be clear, I truly LOVE developing recipes. Only two days after I submitted the manuscript to my publisher, I was already working on brand new recipes. In particular I love creating parve desserts that no one can tell are dairy-free. I relish the challenge of coming up with tasty and elegant Passover dessert recipes to thwart the kvetching that accompanies the holiday. Moreover, I enjoy the science of translating an idea in my head into a dessert that home bakers can successfully make in their own kitchens.
There are challenges as well. Sometimes the ideas don’t work out and we have a “bake and dump”. I caramelized puff pastry sheets ten times until I achieved the color I wanted. Some days I make three trips to the supermarket to buy more ingredients. Let’s not even discuss the dozens of eggs I go through daily. I baked 80 desserts over 10 days to be photographed, which is a lot of time on my feet. I was very popular during that time as I gave out desserts to every neighbor, friend, teenager and plumber who walked into my house.
Writing a cookbook also means actually writing. I had several weeks of 15-hour days editing the recipes to make sure they were all consistent and that I typed in cookie sheets and not cookies sheets. Imagine going through 120 recipes to look for typos over and over again, hour after hour, day after day. This part is much less fun than creating (and tasting) desserts. I also became extremely hungry just reading the recipes and found myself needing more snacks than usual.
For my family, they experience my recipe development in a different way. My four children returned from summer camp to a week of Hammentaschen followed by the two-week long doughnut laboratory for the Chanukah chapter. No matter what they were craving after 8 weeks of camp food, they were obliged to taste the same doughnuts until I was satisfied with the result. I cannot yet share with you all of the new doughnut flavors I came up with for the new book, but suffice to say that you will be surprised. For now I give you a taste with cinnamon doughnut holes and a cinnamon caramel dipping sauce.
A few rules about homemade doughnuts:
1. You MUST have a candy thermometer, or stick to latkes. There is no way to fry doughnuts successfully if the temperature is too high, leaving the center under-cooked, or too low, turning the doughnuts into sponges for the oil.
2. The oil temperature MUST remain between 365°F and 370°F. Be patient and wait to achieve that temperature range after each batch.
3. STAY PUT when frying and watch them carefully - they will go from perfectly golden to scorched very quickly.
4. It is best to fry doughnuts as close as possible to serving them, though you can reheat them in a 250°F oven the next day until they are warm and soft.