The Kosher Baker, Extraordinaire!
Similar to "the Julia" (the culinary icon), Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker cookbook, has a very worldly background.
Her husband's work took them to Geneva, Switzerland where Paula worked as a legal advisor for several years prior to the birth of their first child. After their daughter was born, Paula stopped working and decided to take advantage of the culinary opportunities in Europe and went to Paris to enroll in a French cooking school, the Ritz-Escoffier Ecole De Gastronomie Francaise. Upon receiving her diploma in 1996, she returned to Switzerland and started practicing her new baking skills; she converted the wonderful French desserts she learned how to prepare into kosher, parve versions.
Paula baked dairy-free delicacies for friends and her creations were so popular, she began receiving dessert orders for dinner parties. As a benefit for a Jewish organization, she was asked to teach a cooking class – in French! This fundraiser opened the door to her love of teaching cooking.
The Shoyers returned to the United States, and in 2002, she started Paula's Parisian Pastries Cooking School, in the Washington, D.C. area. The school instructs in all areas of cooking and baking, with an emphasis on French pastry and Jewish cooking. In addition, Paula also conducts cooking classes all over the country and has edited and tested recipes for two of Susie Fishbein's Kosher by Design series cookbooks.
It is this culinary experience and passion that Paula brings to her first cookbook, The Kosher Baker. Paula's philosophy of baking is, "it does not have to be difficult. Home baked desserts are so much healthier that packaged desserts and easier to bake than you think." And The Kosher Baker is a testament to that.
The book features a selection of over 160 dairy-free dessert recipes including cookies, tarts, pies, cobblers, cakes, scones and even four recipes for challah. The recipes are grouped into four unique category sections. The first three sections are based on preparation time and steps involved – ranging from fast and easy to more advanced requiring multiple steps – with section four featuring Passover and Other Special Diet recipes.
Quick & Elegant Desserts, section one, features recipes that require 15 minutes preparation time – sounds unbelievable, right? We were pressed for time and decided to prepare Lime Poppy Seed Pound Cake – and, yes, it did only take 15 minutes to prepare. The recipe suggests using either a bowl (and combining the ingredients by hand), or a food processor. We decided to use a food processor (we used our 14-Cup Cuisinart Elite Collection™, FP-14 Series food processor.) and it was mixed, poured into a baking pan and placed into the oven in 15 minutes. A separate cooked glaze, requiring 4 – 5 minutes cooking time, was the finishing touch to this moist, delectable, parve, cake. Our guests loved it, with one person eating three slices! This recipe is definitely "a keeper" and will make repeat appearances at our dining table.
There are several recipes in the book that caught our "Eye"– Amaretto Cookies, Chocolate Mousse Meringue Layer Cake, Chocolate Almond Toffee Bars, Cinnamon Apricot Pull-Apart Babka and Harvest Challah. Who would believe they are all dairy-free!
The Kosher Baker contains a varied range of recipe selections, clear and precise directions, storage tips for each recipe, beautiful pictures (including "how to" twist a Babka and "how to" braid a challah), and best of all – the recipes are parve. Perfect for the kosher kitchen and perfect for anyone with a special needs diet.
Please read more of our conversation with Paula Shoyer and find out a very interesting little known fact about this creative chef.
Enjoy these two recipes from The Kosher Baker – Apple Upside-Down Cake (15 minutes preparation time) and Challah Beer Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce (a two-step dessert that requires 15 – 30 minutes preparation time).