A South Bay food blogger’s new Jewish baking book is rife with Rosh Hashanah ideas

Soft, pillowy challah rolls filled with spiced apple chunks sound like the ideal baking project for Rosh Hashanah, which starts this year on Sept. 6.

The idea comes from Beth Lee, the San Jose food blogger who started sharing her family’s Jewish recipes on her website, OMG! Yummy, more than a decade ago. Now, she’s out with her first cookbook, “The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook: 50 Traditional Recipes for Every Occasion” (Rockridge Press, $16.99).

The cookbook covers Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish traditions, which translates to a diverse mix of sweet and savory baked goods. Malawach, the flaky layered flatbread from Yemen, is highlighted alongside tishpishti, a walnut-rich Turkish dessert soaked in honey syrup, and kokosh, a chocolate-filled rolled cake from Hungary.

Lee clearly labels recipes kosher, pareve, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan when applicable, which makes the book particularly user-friendly for those following specific dietary restrictions during certain holidays. And there are lots of recipes for Jewish holidays, like a blintz casserole for Shavuot and an herbaceous matzo farfel kugel for Passover.

"The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook" by South Bay food blogger Beth Lee includes 50 recipes.

“The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook” by South Bay food blogger Beth Lee includes 50 recipes.

Provided by Rockridge Press

Enter these challah rolls, a recipe Lee developed for a High Holidays cooking class because it’s traditional to eat apples and round challah for an extra sweet Jewish New Year. Making rolls means that the process is significantly faster than baking one large loaf, taking less than two hours from start to finish.

Janelle Bitker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: janelle.bitker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @janellebitker

Sweet Challah Rolls

With Apple Currant Filling

This recipe, adapted from Beth Lee’s “The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook: 50 Traditional Recipes for Every Occasion” (Rockridge Press, $16.99), is intended for Rosh Hashanah but is versatile enough for year-round baking. You could switch up the flavor by trying different dried fruit, creating a new savory filling or skipping the filling entirely. Alternatively, you can make one large loaf by braiding the filled ropes and baking it 5 to 10 minutes longer. These rolls are dairy-free, nut-free and pareve.

Serves 8


teaspoons (7 grams/1 packet) active dry yeast or instant yeast

cups (438 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

¼ cup (47 grams) granulated sugar

1 cup (235 grams) warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

1 large egg

¼ cup (56 grams) vegetable oil

teaspoons kosher salt


1 cup (118 grams) finely chopped and peeled sweet firm apple

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup (36 grams) currants or raisins

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Egg wash

1 large egg

1 teaspoon water