Baking in Israel! A daunting task before you try it, but you’ll learn quickly! Want to make your famous peanut butter cookies? Looking forward to using Saftas heavenly Babka recipe?
You may be a pro baker, but there a few things about baking Israel that may be different then what you are used to. Here are some important things to know before you get started.
The granules of sugar here in the holy land are much larger. You might bake some cookies and notice you can still see white granules of sugar! That doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, but finding recipes that work specifically in Israel is important. Sharing recipes is a great conversation starter, so ask around! You may end up with a delicious recipe and maybe even a new friend.
Brown sugar also is different than in America. It’s not “packable” and has a different flavor. There’s a sugar company called ‘maya’ that is most similar to the brown sugar you may be familiar with.
Most people in America don’t sift their flour, and you can also buy pre-sifted flour in Israel for the easiest baking. The cheaper, more common option though, is to buy unsifted flour and do it yourself. You can buy a sifter in Yesh, or any similar grocery or home goods store. Remember that when you sift, it adds some air into the flour making it lighter and less condensed. This can affect delicate recipes that need to be very precise so keep that in mind!
The peanut butter here is nothing like your classic Skippy! Peanut butter in The Holy Land is pure peanuts. Nutritious and delicious and very liquidy! One good idea is to leave a container of PB at work, or pack it separately for a peanut butter sandwich without spillage. The green container is your classic pure peanut butter, and the red container comes with added sugars.
Baking cheesecake in Israel is a world of a difference! You will find out pretty quickly that Gvina Livana is not cream cheese! Using an American recipe will leave you sorely disappointed. Here is a wonderful Israeli recipe using quark cheese, better known as Gvina Livana, and other Israeli dairy products. Click here for heavenly results, easy baking, and stunning decor ideas. In addition, because the cheese here is more liquidy, be sure to use a crust to absorb the extra moisture.
Know Your Oven
Ovens in Israel probably deserve their own article. For starters, each person really has to ‘learn’ their own oven. Try, fail, and try again until you get the hang of it. Sharing recipes is fun, but not when people ask you for cook time and temperature! Why? Because it’s so unpredictable! Each person’s oven is different, so make sure to check your food to see when it’s ready, instead of strictly following the recipe cook time and temp. Most people also find that the temperature in their oven is not accurate. You may find your food burning on top but still raw in the middle. Before spending 500 Shekels to fix an oven that’s not working, try putting it on convection, or put your oven fan on to help your oven more accurately gauge the correct temperature. Alternatively, you can buy a separate oven thermometer in any home goods store, including Olam Habayit on Paran.
You may also find that your oven can barely fit two 9×13 pans side by side. If you go one size down in pans, you can easily fit two dishes in the oven at the same time. Some people also find that their food comes out much better when only using one middle tray, versus a top and bottom oven rack. In that case, make sure you leave enough time for each food to cook on its own before Shabbos!
If you are new to this country, you may not know that baking soda is called Soda Lishtiya or sodium bicarbonate, and baking powder is called Avkat Afiya. Don’t confuse them or you may end up with a beautiful breakfast in the garbage.
Baking powder, vanilla sugar, and many other ingredients come in bags, vs containers. This can be extremely frustrating when you want to use only a bit, not a full package, plus it’s hard to store once it’s opened. Bugs are also a concern, not to mention how much harder it is to measure from a packet! A good tip is to open all your ingredients and pour them into small containers or jars right when you buy them. This will ensure safe and easy measuring and storage.
This might all seem overwhelming but you’ll get the hang of it really soon. Remember what a Bracha it is to use flour and sugar grown in the holy land. We’re lucky to live here