The Kosher Baker

Dairy-free baking so delicious no one will miss the butter

The Kosher Baker

Those who keep a kosher kitchen know the challenge of creating parve (dairy-free) desserts to eat with juicy briskets or herb-roasted chicken. In accordance with the Jewish commandment not to mix milk with meat, these desserts cannot have cream, milk, or beloved butter. Delicious cookies, bar, or pies without butter? Is it possible?

Pastry chef and teacher Paula Shoyer tackles the task with her first cookbook, The Kosher Baker , dedicated entirely to dairy-free cakes, cookies, and tarts. She gives a brief introduction to kosher baking, tools and techniques, and then dives into the desserts. Traditional Jewish favorites such as Chocolate Chip Mandelbread, Chocolate Babka, and Orange Poppy Seed Hamantaschen are included in the 160 tasty delights, but so are unexpected treats including Twinkie Cupcakes, Key Lime Pie, and Tiramisu. There are even Passover desserts beyond popular macaroons and a sampling of sugar-free options.

When asked about her motivation for creating The Kosher Baker, Shoyer told us the tome is her “gift to the Jewish community who had suffered long enough with bad parve desserts.” After attending pastry school in Paris, Shoyer learned how to make luscious French pastries- most of which were laden with butter. So she made it her mission to convert these into dairy-free versions as a relief from the “sugar-covered cardboard” (she’s talking to you, kichel!) normally associated with parve desserts. The recipes are also perfect for lactose-intolerant sugar enthusiasts.

A mother herself, Shoyer keeps busy bakers in mind and organizes the book by the amount of time each recipe takes to prepare. She also has over forty-five desserts that can be made in one bowl, ensuring the clean up won’t take longer than the baking. Throughout the book, there are storing tips, anecdotes, and a few mouth-watering photos.

Though many of the recipes use substitutes like margarine and dairy free cream cheese, Shoyer worked with the ratios to insure that the results are as scrumptious as the originals. I tried making her Iced Lemon Pound Cake, which uses a combination of margarine, soy milk, and vegetable oil to yield a moist and lemony cake without a trace of dairy. No one would know it was dairy-free! Bakers of all religions who enjoy making straightforward delicious desserts for holidays or any day are sure to enjoy Shoyer’s take on French and Jewish sweets.

The Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer

(Brandeis, $35, 348 ppg,

Guest blogger Amy Kritzer writes about Jewish food at

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