Good morning fellow Dessert People! We are back with bake number 47 from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. This latest recipe from the Bars & Cookies chapter is a family favourite that has been passed down through four generations—Aunt Rose’s Mondel Bread. You know we love families who bake together 😉
I love learning about different cultural recipes and family traditions, so when I read the little introduction to this recipe in the book and found out that this was one that had been passed down through four generations of family, I was excited to give it a try.
From what I read, it sounds like mondel bread is basically a Jewish variation on biscotti. It’s similar to the Italian version that we’re all familiar with (and that our dad and brother bake together every Christmas) except that oil is used instead of butter and the mondel bread is only baked once instead of twice. Most of the cookies in this chapter so far have been pretty standard in terms of process—mix dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients, combine to create a dough, form and bake—so it was fun to bake something that had a few different steps involved.
The formation of the dough is exactly what you’d expect—dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt), wet ingredients (oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla), and then slivered almonds that I had been toasted in the oven earlier in the day are all combined in the stand mixer. The dough then sits in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.
Once you have your chilled dough, you form the logs. I was a little unsure from the description in the book what exactly these were supposed to look like, and there was no photo or video in this case to go off of, so I just went with how I knew biscotti were formed and hoped for the best. I found it a little tricky to form the logs without any cracks but made them as smooth as possible. Each log is then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and into the oven they go!
This was a three-step bake: round one – logs are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and bake for 20-ish minutes. Round two – they come out, are flipped over, sprinkled with more cinnamon sugar, and bake for another 15 minutes. Round three, you guessed in – they come out, are flipped over again, sprinkled with MORE cinnamon sugar (this was definitely more cinnamon sugar than you really needed…) and bake for a final 15 minutes.
At this point, I should have given the mondel bread a little bit of time to cool and then sliced while still warm, but I was heading out for the night so left the baked logs sitting on the counter. I came back the next morning and sliced the fully cooled mondel bread, which led to some cracking and breakage, so for anyone planning to make this recipe, take Claire’s advice and slice while warm.
Overall, these were what I expected—a drier, simpler cookie (as intended) but with great almond flavour and texture, and a solid accompaniment to a cup of coffee. The process, like I said, was definitely a lot of fun but compared to some of the other recipes in this chapter, these cookies weren’t life-changing. A solid, 3-star bake for me!
Next week we’ll be baking Coconut Thumbprints. See you then!