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Cookbook Reviews

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By Marilyn Scher, December 10, 2004, Food

A Blessing of Bread: Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs

by Maggie Glezer

Artisan, 320 pp., $35

The latest release by award-winning author Maggie Glezer, this beautiful book was inspired when she interviewed a rabbi's wife about the symbolism of challah, the bread perhaps most closely associated with Jewish tradition. This led to years of research as the author followed her passion to explore all manner of Jewish tradition in bread baking in countries that span the globe. Detailed instructional photographs along with an abundance of historical anecdotes adorn more than 60 lovingly tested recipes for challahs galore (Apple Challah and even a yin yang-shaped challah), as well as plenty of other offerings to tempt any baker: Moroccan Purim Bread, recipes for honey cake, matzo and crackers, and even an Israeli Pita Bagel. The recipes are clearly written with sufficiently thorough instructions to ensure success for inexperienced and seasoned bakers alike. Yet it's the emphasis on the culture and traditions of a people that makes this more than just an ordinary cookbook. The flavor of the past is on every page, and it will undoubtedly come through in each finished product. These are age-old recipes, brought to life for modern times – and we owe thanks to Glezer and her commitment to preserving this legacy for the future.

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