A sweet babka for a sweet new year

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries


A babka is a yeast-dough coffee cake, usually filled with fruit and/or chocolate. My nana made a babka each year for Rosh Hashana, which she made as sweet as possible so that we would enjoy a sweet year. I remember her emptying out jars of jam (usually leftover Passover eingie, or maybe some plum jam), throwing in some extra sugar and cinnamon, plus a handful of nuts and raisins. In her honor, I made one for my family today, and filled it with a jar of tart cherry jam, some chocolate chips, cinnamon-sugar and a handful of slivered almonds. The fun in making this is that you can use whatever filling you like.


If you’d enjoy the recipe, please visit the Apple iTunes store to download my app, iNosh. Here’s the link for that:


I’m donating half of the proceeds to Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger

And here’s a preview of some of the content on the app. For now, it’s only available for iPad users.

iNosh info

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Challah

For the people I love who do not eat gluten, I think you’ll really enjoy this bread. This is the most unusual dough I’ve ever worked with. It is stretchy and very thin, and is very entertaining to watch rise and then gently flow over the lip of the bread pan. It got tremendous reviews at dinner last night.

In a large bowl in your mixer, combine and let sit until bubbly:

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. yeast
  • 1 c. warm water

Then add:

  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk (save egg white for brushing top of loaf)
  • 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil

Stir in:

  • 1-1/3 c. rice flour
  • 1-1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. salt

Beat on high for 2 minutes. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, then beat again for another 2 minutes. Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with some olive oil, and flour it using rice flour. Transfer the dough into the pan, and let rise for 45 minutes.

Very gently brush the top of the dough with a mixture of:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbs. honey

Sprinkle with:

  • poppy seeds or sesame seeds

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 mins. After about 15 minutes, when the top gets brown, loosely place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top to prevent burning.



If, like me, you’re tired of paying $4.50 for a box of cereal, spend the five minutes it takes to make your own. Instead of shopping for prepared dry cereal, pick up some old fashioned oats, wheat germ, unsweetened coconut, some nuts and dried fruit.

This really does only take five minutes to mix up, then sit down with your morning newspaper and a good cup of coffee, while it bakes for 30 minutes.


  • 2 c. old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/3 c. wheat germ*
  • 1/3 c. wheat bran*
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 c. each of any or all of the following: almonds, pecans, dried fruit (currants, raisins, cherries), sunflower seeds

Put aside the dried fruit, mix the rest together, spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 8 minutes or so. Allow to cool completely, stir in the dried fruit, and store in an air-tight container.

For an elegant breakfast, try a breakfast parfait.

*To make this a gluten-free granola, substitute oat bran for the wheat bran and wheat germ.

Baked Beans with Green Tomato Chutney

These are fresh and flavorful, not at all like mushy canned beans.

As summer “officially” ends today, Labor Day, I’m preparing an end of summer supper of good old hot dogs, potato chips, watermelon and baked beans. Although I don’t make my own hot dogs, I do try—more and more—to prepare what I can from scratch, and so today I am making homemade, not-from-a-can, baked beans. Right now they are in the oven. Baking. Our home has already been filled with the great smell of pinto beans cooking (each of the children, in turn, has asked what smells so good), and soon I imagine the aroma of sweet and savory beans will call them all to the table.

This recipe uses my green tomato chutney (click here for the recipe), but if you don’t have this, you may substitute a different chutney (probably best purchased at an Asian or Indian grocery store). Alternatively, substitute a chopped, tart apple.

Baked Beans with Green Tomato Chutney

  • 2 c. dried pinto beans
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chutney
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. molasses
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. (or to taste) salt

Cook the pinto beans in about 4 cups water for 1-1/2 hours or until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid, and then drain the beans. In a large bowl stir together all of the ingredients, including the 1 cup liquid. Taste, and adjust cayenne and salt to taste. Pour into a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees, covered, for 1-1/2 hours; uncover and continue baking for 30 mins.

Black Bottom Brownies

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries


My test-taster, Max, gives a thumbs up.

During the course of my blog’s hiatus, I was laying in bed one night, thinking about packing and moving across country and how black bottom cupcakes are so delicious, yet so fussy to make. That is how Black Bottom Brownies were born.

Black Bottom Brownies

For the batter:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. cocoa

Cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs, vanilla and salt. Carefully stir in the flour and cocoa (so that you don’t have dust everywhere). Spread batter into a greased 10 x 14 pan.

For the topping:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips

Beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt, stir in the chips.

With the end of a small spoon, make deep indentations in the brownie batter, carefully spaced so that you will have one per cut brownie. Fill a small ziplock bag with the topping, zip it shut, then snip off about a 1/2″ corner of the bag. Using the bag like a pastry bag, squeeze a dollop of filling into each indentation of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 mins.

Use a ziplock as a pastry bag to squeeze in the filling.

Out of the oven…

…and into waiting hands. (Try and wait until they’re cool before cutting.)


**Seeking test bakers! This recipe left me with a half batch of leftover filling.  I suggest using an extra egg yolk in the batter, and making half the recipe of the filling using just an egg white. The new filling recipe would look like this:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 heaping Tbs. sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Let me know if you try this and how it turns out.

Or: After tasting these, and realizing how rich and filling they are, I might just use up all of the filling next time, putting the dollops closer together—even touching a bit, making much smaller brownies.

Italian plums are here!

Prune plums or Italian plums.

These plums are only available for a couple of weeks each fall, and are ideal for baking or making jam. If you want to save them for a later date, they freeze quite well. To freeze, cut them in half, remove the pit, and place the plums in a freezer-type ziplock bag.

Today I’ll be making jam, this weekend I’ll make my mother’s plum cake.  Click here for the plum cake recipe.

Stay tuned as I attempt a new recipe idea: black bottom brownies.