Cookies for the Holidays: Chocolade-Backwerk

“Kleines Chocolade-Backwerk,” perhaps translated best as “Small Chocolate Baked Goods.” These are a basic chocolate and almond cookie. My friends, can I tell you….this cookie was amazing!”

Cookies for the Holidays: Spitzbuben

“In our archives, we have a picture of a Jewish family celebrating Christmas. I asked one of our volunteers who grew up in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s about Christmas cookies. “Oh yes,” she enthusiastically responded. “Each year at Christmas we would have trays of cookies baked. We especially liked the cookies with jam in the middle, but there were many kinds.” And thus, a sticky plan was hatched…

Potato Strudel (Potato Knishes) of the Bukovina

This time, we tried making a potato strudel, also called potato knishes. The recipe is from a four-volume online publication called The Bukovina Cookbook. Following the instructions, we ended up with so much potato filling that almost half was leftover. And this proved to be the best part of the recipe—we took the filling, patted it out, and made latkes! The latkes were pretty good. So if anything else, we got a basic latke recipe.

Passover Veal Roast and Compote

A popular Passover dish recommended for Passover in cookbooks from the 1900s was Kalbsbraten (veal roast), often served with compote. Compote is a mixture of fruit cooked with sugar and spices; many Jewish cookbook authors frequently recommended compotes as accompaniments to meat, fillings for desserts, or served alone with a sauce. Henny van Cleef’s cookbook, Die israelitische Küche, had recipes for compotes made of plums, apples, pineapples, cherries, melons, huckleberries, and even roots vegetables. I chose her apple compote, since most other fruits were not yet in season.

Billige echt jüdische Bobe (Cheap Real Jewish Bobe) – A Coffee Cake

My friend was most intrigued with the recipe of the Cheap Real Jewish Bobe. It seemed very basic, the kind of thing you would have with coffee mid-morning in a pleasant kitchen or café or garden in Central Europe before the war: nothing too fancy, like some rich pastry or confectionery for a special event among the exceedingly wealthy. This is a simple coffee cake where you invite a few friends over whom you don’t have to impress. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good–after all; aren’t the simplest things often the tastiest?

In Memory’s Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin

The Theresienstadt Ghetto was created at the end of 1941 as a collection point for Jews of the former Czechoslovakia, and in the following months for Jews from Germany and Austria as well. A place with a complicated history of deception, starvation, slave labor, and periods of “beautification” for propaganda purposes, the Theresienstadt Ghetto’s primary purpose was as a way-station for further deportations to the death camps in Eastern Europe, most notably Treblinka and Auschwitz. It was in this hell that Mina Pachter, who before the war had been an art historian, made this cookbook.

Erdbeer-Gateau from Hélènemama (Arad, Romania, 1924)

The Erdbeer-Gateau or Strawberry Cake is a delicious and easy recipe. Don’t let any personal fears of working with meringue dissuade you! It’s perfect for summer. This is not a recipe from a “Jewish cookbook,” rather a German cookbook that was published by a German press in Romania. The owner of the cookbook was a Jewish woman from Vienna, and that is how it found its way into our collections.

Kochbuch der Hélènemama (Arad, Romania, 1924)

Hedi Levenback escaped Austria in 1939 via a Kindertransport to England at the age of 14. Her own mother had died of natural causes when she was only six, and she was raised by an aunt. Her aunt managed to flee Austria as well, immigrating to Shanghai and, after the war, joining her niece in New York. We presume that this cookbook belonged to her aunt, carried with her from Vienna to China and to her new life in the United States. She seems to have been truly devoted to the domestic arts.

A German Breakfast from 1896

Flipped apple egg pancake

From “Kochbuch fuer israelitische Frauen” by Rebekka Wolf geb. Heinemann, we created the delicious Apfel-Eierkuchen, or Apple Egg pancakes, and the hearty Arme Ritter, known in English as Poor Knights. Both were easy and provided a tasty glimpse back into a German brunch from 1896.


Finished product!

Kaiserschmarrn, a type of sweet scrambled pancake traditionally topped with raisins and rum sauce, has uncertain origins full of folklore. While attributed to Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I, no one is quite sure exactly how or why it was created. Regardless, pancakes were clearly as popular in the 19th century as they are today. The finished product was delicious and definitely something I would make again.