Paula Shoyer goes beyond baking in new cookbook


I love a good cookbook,  one with plenty of recipes that sound delicious, look tasty and have a lighter, contemporary feel.

Paula Shoyer, known as “the Kosher Baker,” has more than met my standards with her new cookbook, “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen: Fresh Contemporary Recipes for Every Occasion” (Sterling Epicure, 2017). You don’t need a Kosher kitchen to find this book appealing, and it’s filled with vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.

Author of “The New Passover Menu,” “The Holiday Kosher Baker” and “The Kosher Baker,” Shoyer is venturing away from baking with this book. Her contemporary recipes include Red Quinoa Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash, Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup, Israeli Herb and Almond Salad.  These recipes are simple enough for many beginning cooks. A nice added touch is the equipment list at the beginning of each recipe. That’s not our style at The Voice, but I’ve left it here so you can see how helpful it is.

The key, for Shoyer, is fresh, wholesome ingredients. As she writes in her introduction, “Most Jewish cookbooks still have too many recipes with processed ingredients, not enough whole grains, too much salt and fat, and too much sugar.” She writes that her goal was to use only natural ingredients.

I had a hard time picking out recipes to share. Because it’s almost Purim, I chose an interesting Pumpkin Hamentaschen. And I was attracted to her Gluten-Free Challah recipe because I’m always searching for tasty gluten-free bread. Then I realized that, despite the fact that Shoyer has written a book not centered on baking, I’m sharing baking recipes.

Well, her book is readily available, so let me know what else you’ve tried!

Pumpkin Hamantaschen

Parve • Makes 3 dozen cookies

Purim is one of my favorite Jewish holidays, and I love to invent new flavors of hamantaschen every year. These taste best when they are baked until firm.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes; 1 hour to chill dough; 15 minutes to roll out and shape   BAKE TIME: 14 minutes

ADVANCE PREP: May be made 2 days in advance; avoid freezing

EQUIPMENT: Measuring cups and spoons, can opener, large bowl, electric mixer, silicone spatula, plastic wrap, medium bowl, 2 jelly roll pans or cookie sheets, parchment paper or silicone baking mats, rolling pin, small drinking glass or round cookie cutter (2 to 3 inches [5 to 7.5cm] in diameter), long metal flat-blade spatula




3 large eggs

1 cup (200g) sugar

1/2 cup (120g) sunflower, safflower, or canola oil

1/2 cup (113g) pumpkin purée

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 1/4 cups (163g) whole-wheat flour

Dash salt


1 cup (225g) pumpkin purée

1/4 cup (55g) light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 large egg yolk


In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin purée, and vanilla and mix well. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a round, then cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight to firm up.

Prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, place the pumpkin purée, light brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, and egg yolk and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to roll out the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 to 3 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment or silicone baking mats. Divide the dough in half.

Cut off 2 pieces of parchment paper and sprinkle all-purpose flour on one. Place a dough half on top of the parchment paper, then sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and, using a rolling pin, roll over the top of the parchment paper. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick. After every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on the dough. Once or twice, flip over the parchment-dough “package” and peel off the bottom parchment. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough, place the parchment back on top, and then flip it over.

Lift off the top parchment. Using a small drinking glass or a round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Use a long metal flat-blade spatula to lift the cookie circles and place them on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a little flour. Place  3/4 to 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each dough circle, and then fold in the three sides toward the middle to form a triangle, leaving a small opening in the center. Pinch the three sides together very tightly. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Roll and cut any extra dough scraps, making sure to sprinkle a little flour under and over the dough before you roll it out.

Bake the cookies for 14 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. These cookies taste best when they are crunchy. Slide the parchment and cookies onto wire cooling racks.

Gluten-Free Challah

Parve, Gluten-free • Makes 1 large loaf

I probably receive a message or email every week from someone asking if I have a good gluten-free challah recipe. I finally have a recipe that is good enough to publish, thanks to Orly’s gluten-free flour blends, which you can buy in stores and online. I use Orly’s Manhattan mix. You can use your favorite gluten-free flour mix. I tried braiding this recipe or making it into a round shape but was never satisfied with the result, so I highly recommend the silicone challah molds you can purchase online. This recipe was inspired by Orly’s recipe.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes; 1½ hours for first rising; 45 minutes for second rising

BAKE TIME: 30 minutes

ADVANCE PREP: May be made 2 days in advance or frozen.

EQUIPMENT: Measuring cups and spoons, silicone spatula or wooden spoon, mixing bowl, whisk, pastry brush, 1 silicone challah mold, jelly roll pan, or cookie sheet


2 envelopes (1/2 ounce [15g]) active dry yeast

1/3 cup (80ml) warm water

1/4 cup (50g) plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided

1/3 cup (80ml) plus 1 teaspoon sunflower or safflower oil, divided

1/3 cup (80ml) honey

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup (120ml) boiling water

1/4 cup (60ml) cold water

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup (45g) gluten-free oats

3 1/2 to 4 cups (440 to 500g) gluten-free flour mix

Cooking spray for greasing pan


In a measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and mix it in. Let the mixture sit for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is thick.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, remaining 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, honey, and salt. To dissolve them, whisk in the boiling water. Add the cold water and mix again. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the oil mixture, reserving 2 to 3 teaspoons to brush on the loaves before baking. When the yeast bubbles, add the yeast mixture to the bowl and whisk.

Add the oats and 1 cup (125g) of flour and whisk well. Add another cup (125g) of flour and mix well. Add a third cup (125g) of flour and mix. Add 1/2 cup (65g) of flour and knead it in. Turn out the dough onto the counter and add more flour and knead gently until the dough is mostly soft. Place the remaining teaspoon of oil into the bowl and rub it all around the bowl and on top of the dough. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2  hours.

Use cooking spray to grease the challah mold. Shape the challah into an oblong piece and then place into the mold. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake the challah for 30 minutes. Remove it from the mold onto a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Add a teaspoon of water to the reserved egg and brush it over the challah. Bake it for another 10 minutes or until it is golden brown.

FRAN OSTENDORF is the editor of The Jewish Voice.