Home Food The Shabbat Table: Retro recipes for your grandma

The Shabbat Table: Retro recipes for your grandma


Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! As I look out the window, everything is snow-covered and my urge to hibernate continues. Winter is finally here and when the weather turns cold and wintery, there’s nothing better than going into the kitchen and baking something homemade, especially for Shabbat.

If you want to learn the best of grandma’s baking secrets, but prefer to re-create them using newer, simpler techniques, you’ll love Traditional Jewish Baking: Retro Recipes Your Grandma Would Make…If She Had a Mixer. This heartwarming guide to home baking with a contemporary twist by Israeli cookbook author, Carine Goren, is packed with keepsake recipes and mouthwatering photos, with helpful baking tips scattered throughout, aptly dubbed “Grandma Knows Best.”

This terrific treasury of home-sweet-home recipes includes: A Gigantic Black (Chocolate) Cake for 40 Kids, Checkerboard Cake (along with step-by-step ‘how-to’ photos), Black and White Cookies, Ghriba – Moroccan Sand Cookies, Salt Sesame Bagels, Hannukkah Doughnuts (Sufganiyot), and Turkish Delight Crescents (plus a recipe on how to make your own Turkish Delight). There’s Israeli Cremeschnitte (Napoleon Cake), Muffleta, Cheese and Raisins Blintzes, Homemade Marshmallow, Homemade Halva, Krembo – Chocolate-Coated Marshmallow Treat (or “Warm Ice Cream”)… Baking your way through this lovely cookbook is like taking a trip to Israel while surrounded by the comfort of your own kitchen.

For this week’s Shabbat Table, I’ve chosen two pareve cakes from Traditional Jewish Baking that are easy to make: Layered Apple Cake of your Dreams, and Insanely Soft Marble Cake. My third choice, Upgraded Biscuit Cake, requires no baking – just choose your favorite combination, assemble, freeze, and enjoy! This delightful dessert, layered with childhood memories of warm, summery Israeli sunshine, would make a terrific addition to your Chanukah dessert menu and will definitely light up the faces of everyone at your table.

Carine Goren is also the author of Sweet Secrets, Sweet Secrets 2, and Baking is Child’s Play. She is also the host of Israel’s top baking show. Carine began her culinary career as a correspondent and editor at “Al Hashulchan” and is the owner of a successful brand of bakeware products. She lives in Israel.

Traditional Jewish Baking: Retro Recipes Your Grandma Would Make If She Had A Mixer (Page Street Publishing Co.) is a Jewish cookbook that is neither just Eastern European nor only Middle Eastern, but instead uniquely spans the rich and varied tradition of Jewish cuisines. It would make an excellent hostess gift for Shabbat, Chanukah, or for any occasion – and don’t forget to buy a copy for yourself, too! Sweet Shabbos wishes to all.



What makes this cake so dreamy are the two layers of apples soaked in sugar and cinnamon, which are spread between two layers of batter, so the apples and the cake become soft, while those on top brown and crisp up. To do this cake justice, I like to bake it in an old-time aluminum Bundt pan as a gift (the Bundt pan is included).

For the apple mixture:

6 large apples
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon

For the cake:

3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (10g) baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups (400g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120ml) water

To make the apple mixture, peel, core and dice the apples. Place in a bowl, add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix well. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325F (160C). Grease a 10-inch (25-cm) Bundt pan.

Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla and water. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture, and mix only a thick and smooth batter forms.

Strain the diced apples. You are welcome to drink the small amount of juice from the straining, because it is not used in the recipe. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, and spread half of the apples on top. Repeat with the other half of batter and remaining apples.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes (fear not – the long baking will not diminish the cake’s moistness), until a toothpick inserted in its center comes out dry. Cool before slicing. Keep covered at room temperature.

Makes one 10-inch (25-cm) cake

Grandma Knows Best:

This recipe is so old, the amount of liquids in it were measured in empty eggshells (“Fill an eggshell 8 times with water”). Makes you appreciate today’s measuring cups!


The name says it all: a soft marble cake. Insanely so! The softness is achieved by the whipped eggs (don’t worry – whole eggs, no need to separate); the moistness comes from the oil and the orange juice; the fragrance from the vanilla; and the flavor comes from the melted chocolate mixed into the batter. Yes, your mixer is going to get dirty, but believe me, the grandmas had it worse; they had to do ALL of it by hand…

For the batter:

4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (240ml) orange juice
1/2 cup (120ml) water
2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (10g) baking powder

For the chocolate mixture:

3 1/2 oz (100g) dark chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp (15ml) vegetable oil

To make the batter, preheat the oven to 350F(180C). Grease 3 loaf pans or 2 heart-shaped pans.

In a mixer, at high speed, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 10 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and thick, resembling a mousse consistency. Lower the mixer to the minimum speed and slowly drizzle in the oil while beating. Add the orange juice and water in the same way. Add the flour and baking powder, and beat slowly, until the batter is smooth. Put three-fourths of the batter into the pans.
To make the chocolate mixture, combine the melted chocolate and oil. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining quarter of the batter and mix until combined. Spoon the chocolate batter over the white batter in the pans. Insert a knife in the batter, all the way through, and swirl to create the marble effect. Repeat in the other pan(s).

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until cakes are springy and a toothpick inserted in their centers comes out almost dry. Let cool before serving.

Makes 3 loaf cakes or 2 heart-shaped cakes



I was going to write that this is my mother’s biscuit cake, but it’s every mother’s biscuit cake. In my childhood home, this cake was served on Shabbat, in the summer, waiting for us in the refrigerator when we came back all browned by the sun (it was allowed back then). On especially hot days, Ma would put it in the freezer in the morning, so by the time we ate it, it was a proper ice cream cake. I am well aware of the civilized convention of serving it sliced on a nice plate, but it is much better to spoon it straight from the pan. My mother’s chocolate version is a great upgrading: it is very tall (seven layers, including the frosting), with chocolate-flavored biscuits and lots of chocolate ganache on top, just the way I like it.

For the vanilla cream:

2 cups (480ml) whipping cream
2 cups (480ml) milk
1 cup (160g) vanilla-flavored instant pudding (the kind that’s ready-to-eat)
1/2 cup (125g) cream cheese
1/2 cup (125g) Greek yogurt

For the biscuits:

1 cup (240ml) milk
16 oz (500g) chocolate- or vanilla-flavored biscuits

For the chocolate frosting:

1/2 cup (125ml) whipping cream
4 oz (120g) dark chocolate

To make the vanilla cream, in a mixer, beat together the whipping cream, milk and pudding mix to firm peaks. Add the cream cheese and yogurt, and beat for a few more seconds, until combined.

To make the biscuits, pour the milk into a cup and quickly dip a third of the biscuits in the milk. Arrange tightly in the bottom of a 13 x 11-inch (33 x 28-cm) pan. Spread with a third of the cream. Repeat 2 more times, to get alternating layers of milk-dipped biscuits and vanilla cream (the top layer is cream). Put in the freezer for half an hour (this way, the chocolate frosting will not melt the cream).

To make the frosting, in a microwave oven, heat the whopping cream and chocolate, and whisk to a smooth sauce. Let it cool a little, and pour over the cake.

Put the cake in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving, so the filling will set and the biscuits will soften. Serve cold.

Makes one 13 x 11-inch (33 x 28-cm) pan

Grandma Knows Best:

Feel like diversifying a little? Here are some ideas for different flavors:

Choco-Choco Biscuit Cake: Replace the vanilla pudding mix with a chocolate-flavored one, and add 2 Tbsp (40g) Nutella spread to the mixer bowl.

Halva Biscuit Cake: Add to the mixer bowl 1/2 cup (130g) halva spread, and instead of chocolate ganache, decorate with chopped halva.

Coffee Biscuit Cake: Add to the mixer bowl 1 Tbsp (12g) instant coffee. Wet the biscuits with lukewarm coffee (instant coffee and water, without milk or sugar).

Light Biscuit Cake (without whipping cream): In a bowl, whisk 2 cups (480ml) skim milk with 3/4 cup (120g) vanilla-flavored pudding mix and 1/2 cup (100g) sugar (or sugar substitute). Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken. Mix in 2 cups (500g) light cream cheese and 1 cup (250g) low-fat yogurt (the mixture will be runny, but that’s all right; it will set in the refrigerator). Assemble in alternating layers of biscuits dipped in skim milk and filling. Instead of frosting the cake with a chocolate ganache, you can garnish it with curls of sugar-free chocolate.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of eleven cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at goodfood@gourmania.com.

Norene Gilletz
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor and now a podcaster. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at gourmania.com..