Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking by Uri Scheft and Raquel Pelzel

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Notes about Recipes in this book

  • No-knead focaccia

    • gastronom on April 06, 2017

      Good recipe. Versatile -- many different toppings added easy variety. Froze well. Tip from Astrid5555 about video was helpful and video inspiring - thanks!

    • Astrid5555 on December 04, 2016

      This is one of the easiest and least involved focaccia recipes ever! After having watched Uri Scheft's video on Food52 I decided to give it a try and the end result is amazing! The recipe makes 8 small breads and as per the video I played with the toppings, from a traditional rosemary, lemon zest, sea salt combo to mushroom and scallions with tomatoes. My guests gobbled up everything incredibly quickly and some even made copies of the recipe to try it themselves. Will make again very soon!!!

    • anya_sf on April 07, 2019

      I made 1/2 recipe, yielding 3 large focaccia (at first I was going to make the spinach ones, which calls for larger pieces, but changed my mind). The dough was easy to make and everything worked well, except dimpling the dough, as the dimples did not want to stay. I'm not sure if my dough was over- or underproofed; I had proofed it for an hour since my kitchen was kind of cold. Anyway, the baked breads were delicious. I topped them with poppy seeds, flax seeds, oregano, rosemary, and flaky sea salt. Next time I'll be more generous with the salt.

  • Pan pita

    • Astrid5555 on June 10, 2017

      I love this method of cooking the pita bread on the stove, so easy. The recipe is very little involved and produces delicious pita breads which are perfect to freeze!

    • Zosia on March 12, 2017

      Another easy dough from this book (one that again required more liquid). I used it for the pocketless za'atar pitas (which were fabulous!) but I'd love to try the stove top method of making regular pitas.

    • anya_sf on June 18, 2020

      The dough was easy to make and work with; I didn't need to add more liquid. I appreciated not having to heat up the oven, although it did take me a couple of tries (read: slightly burnt pitas) to get the heat right for my cast iron pan (medium-low). The breads tended to bubble up a lot during cooking (dough may have proofed too long) and I had to break the bubbles for the second side to brown more evenly. The pita breads didn't develop neat pockets, but they were thick and pleasantly chewy, great for scooping up hummus.

  • Laffa

    • Astrid5555 on June 01, 2020

      Quick and easy to make, perfectly soft. Baked on my pizza stone in the oven at 280C for 4 minutes. Made half a recipe as an accompaniment to the oxtail stew from Falastin, gone within minutes. Kids loved them!

    • anya_sf on August 31, 2019

      The recipe calls for all-purpose flour with 11.7% protein, which I did not have, so I used half Gold Medal all-purpose and half Gold Medal bread flour. The dough was very springy and took several passes to roll out, and the rounds wouldn't stay 14" across, but sprang back to 8-10" every time. Half of the breads developed pockets during baking. Despite immediately putting them into a plastic bag to soften, the breads were not that soft and were extremely chewy. Perhaps the bread flour was a mistake. The flavor was pretty good, but the texture wasn't what I'd hoped for. Still, they worked as a vehicle for hummus and eggplant spread.

  • Lachmajun with roasted eggplant and scallions

    • Astrid5555 on June 17, 2020

      Delicious! Used regular yogurt instead of goat milk yogurt in the dough and sourcream for the topping. Made several variations adding oven-roasted tomatoes, spinach and shaved asparagus to fit everyone’s vegetable preferences. Original version with eggplants and scallions were my favorite, so do try and make as written.

  • Spinach burekas

    • Astrid5555 on December 02, 2018

      These are quick and easy to make and tasted really nice. Lovely addition to a mezze spread. Will make again!

  • Challah

    • Astrid5555 on September 21, 2020

      Successfully halved the recipe and made on challah without seeds. The crust browned too quickly, so next time would turn down the oven temperature a little. Apart from that best challah ever according to my family.

    • Zosia on March 12, 2017

      Slightly sweet and not too eggy with a fine but soft crumb. I'm becoming accustomed to this author's method of stretching and folding a stiff dough and partial proofs so the dough came together easily (with an additional 100g water). I used a half batch for the cinnamon braids and made 1 loaf and 5 buns from the balance. Be prepared for huge oven spring. I'll definitely be repeating this recipe.

    • Lepa on December 21, 2017

      I was a bit annoyed that this makes three loaves and is apparently difficult to scale down. Part of my annoyance is that the large batch of dough seems to have broken my Kitchen Aid mixer. But it's not fair to blame the recipe for that disaster. Plus, now we have plenty of leftovers for French toast! The end result was good but not as good as the recipe I've been using from the Kitchn website, which makes one large loaf and uses more egg so it results in a richer/yellow bread that I prefer.

    • Rutikazooty on September 20, 2020

      Halved the recipe and made one challah. Easy to halve when weighing in grams. Very easy challah — I used instant yeast and AP flour. I mixed the 3 seeds together and smushed them into the challah as author suggests in shaping video available on Epicurious.

  • Basic babka dough

    • Astrid5555 on December 11, 2016

      This is a quick and easy babka dough which can be chilled in the fridge for 24 hours before baking it. Great for preparing a day ahead so that you can spread your effort across 2 days.

    • Zosia on March 12, 2017

      I would agree that this is a quick and easy dough to make but it's stiffer and less tender once baked than others I've made. I needed an extra 80g milk to make a workable dough. (Canadian flour plus a dry kitchen?)

    • anya_sf on May 12, 2020

      The dough was stiff, but I did not need to add extra liquid. Maybe I misunderstood the stretch and fold instructions, but I did that for about 10 minutes and didn't think the dough would ever stop tearing. Eventually I just kneaded it until it was smooth. After chilling for 24 hours, the dough was easy to roll out.

  • The famous chocolate babka

    • Astrid5555 on December 11, 2016

      I just love how effortlessly you can bake from this book. Made with the "Basic babka dough" which I prepared the day before and let chill overnight. Very approachable recipe which is well explained also with photos with a delicious end result. Makes 2 babkas, one of which I froze for an upcoming Christmas event with the neighbours. Will definitely go into regular baking rotation!

    • Zosia on March 12, 2017

      I made this with the basic babka dough and though it was well received, I found the bread portion to be a bit firmer and drier than I like. With all of that chocolate and nutella no one else noticed (or cared). I'll have to make this again with the laminated dough.

    • Frogcake on December 31, 2016

      I just taste-tested this chocolate babka fresh out of the oven. My two babas (may they RIP) would agree unequivocally that this is the babka of all babkas. This will be New Year's Day breakfast tomorrow. Will definitely be making this again. Yum.

  • Apple babka

    • chawkins on September 18, 2019

      Fantastic tasting babka. The filling looked to be too runny after the addition of the lemon juice, but it worked out fine after refrigeration. But unfortunately, I did not have enough flour on the work surface when I tried to stretch the rolled dough and the surface tore open on couple of spots, so I stopped stretching and the cut lengths were not long enough for proper shaping. The resulting babkas were not pretty, but they tasted great and I was not serving them to guests, so that's okay. I did not make the syrup, it was sweet enough for our taste.

    • anya_sf on May 12, 2020

      I used half the basic babka dough to make one loaf. I didn't have trouble rolling the dough or filling, but when twisting the 2 logs together, I could only get maybe 3 twists - half of what the photo showed - but in the end it still looked nice. The babka took 35 minutes to bake, tented with foil after 20 minutes (the 20 minute baking time may be for the smaller version made with advanced dough). There was lots of extra syrup left over. The babka tasted wonderful served the morning after baking - plenty of apple, tender bread, not overly sweet.

  • Sticky pull-apart cinnamon challah braid

    • Zosia on March 12, 2017

      These were absolutely beautiful! This book is worth the price for the bread shaping instructions alone. Sweet and buttery and just a little cinnamon-y (perhaps an extra teaspoon next time), no one could resist them. I had to quickly squirrel one away in the freezer so both wouldn't be eaten in one day. A half batch of the challah dough recipe was needed for these and though quite a challenge to shape at the start, it became easier to work with with each consecutive folding and rolling step. You'll want to use only about 1/3 cup/75g filling each time, not 1/2 cup as the recipe states, or you'll run out during step 4. I used only half the syrup. The recipe can be found here (note that only half the dough recipe is required to make two braids):

    • anya_sf on April 22, 2018

      This recipe was a failure for me. I made the whole challah recipe, which turned out fine, although the dough was quite stiff. I used 1/4 of the dough for one cinnamon braid. Filling the dough wasn't too hard, although the filling amount is off in the instructions - if you use 1/2 cup for the first layer, 1/2 cup for the second layer, you won't have any left for the final filling. I held some back so there would be some for each layer. The final layer was hard to roll since the filling leaked through the thin dough. I could not figure out how to cut an epi, so my "braid" was pretty homely. I wish there had been instructional pictures. My bread did not rise enough (too heavy? and maybe too cold in my kitchen) and the filling and butter leaked a lot. Baking time was more like 30 min, not 20. I skipped the simple syrup. The flavor was good, with tons of layers, and a somewhat chewy texture, but I wouldn't make this again without better instructions.

  • Za'atar pita

    • Zosia on March 12, 2017

      So very, very good. Crisp and chewy and so flavourful. I used only half the olive oil topping, enough to add flavour without making them too oily.

    • anya_sf on February 23, 2020

      Using King Arthur Flour, I had no issues with the dough. I may have rolled the pita too thin, as they weren't as puffy and dimply as the photo, but they were great nevertheless. They needed twice as long to bake, perhaps because my pans were light-colored. No additional olive oil was needed, as some of the oil rolled off the breads.

  • Cinnamon-raisin-walnut babka

    • anya_sf on May 26, 2020

      I made 1 babka using 1/2 batch basic dough. The babka was difficult to shape because the exposed layers did not want to stick together at all, making it very hard to twist them. So my babka did not have nearly as many swirls as the photo shows. Still, it baked up nicely and tasted delicious. This babka was a little drier than the apple babka from the same book, probably because the filling wasn't moist. There was a lot more syrup than needed.

  • Ricotta streusel babka

    • anya_sf on September 08, 2019

      I made half the recipe, which was easy to do since all the components are mixed by hand. Baked in a light-colored metal 8"x8" cake pan, the babka was not remotely brown on top after 20 minutes in the oven. I turned up the heat to 400 and baked another 10 minutes, at which point the streusel was just barely golden in places. I feared the babka would be overbaked and dry, but actually it seemed perfect - reminiscent of Entenmann's cheese coffee cake in the best possible way. I baked it the night before serving for breakfast, and it tasted perfectly fresh.

  • Challah rolls

    • anya_sf on April 23, 2018

      I used a small portion of challah dough (about 270 g) to make 6 rolls. They didn't rise quite as much as I'd hoped, but the dough did sit in my fridge for 2 days, and I think my yeast may be sluggish. Still, they were very easy to shape and tasted great fresh from the oven.

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Reviews about this book

  • Food52

    The author answers questions about baking challah bread.

    Full review
  • Eat the Love

    If you are a bread baker and are looking for something a bit different than the usual bread baking book, Breaking Bread is for you.

    Full review
  • Leite's Culinaria

    Thanks to an abundance of how-to photos and well articulated techniques, novices as well as experienced bakers will be tempted to bake their way entirely through the book...

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 157965682X
  • ISBN 13 9781579656829
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Oct 18 2016
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 352
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Artisan

Publishers Text

Israeli baking encompasses the influences of so many regions—Morocco, Yemen, Germany, and Georgia, to name a few—and master baker Uri Scheft seamlessly marries all of these in his incredible baked goods at his Breads Bakery in New York City and Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv. Nutella-filled babkas, potato and shakshuka focaccia, and chocolate rugelach are pulled out of the ovens several times an hour for waiting crowds. In Breaking Breads, Scheft takes the combined influences of his Scandinavian heritage, his European pastry training, and his Israeli and New York City homes to provide sweet and savory baking recipes that cover European, Israeli, and Middle Eastern favorites. Scheft sheds new light on classics like challah, babka, and ciabatta—and provides his creative twists on them as well, showing how bakers can do the same at home—and introduces his take on Middle Eastern daily breads like kubaneh and jachnun. The instructions are detailed and the photos explanatory so that anyone can make Scheft’s Poppy Seed Hamantaschen, Cheese Bourekas, and Jerusalem Bagels, among other recipes. With several key dough recipes and hundreds of Israeli-, Middle Eastern–, Eastern European–, Scandinavian-, and Mediterranean-influenced recipes, this is truly a global baking bible.

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