On March 6th, this squad of lovely sixth graders baked Kichel (recipe below) and enjoyed a tea party! This popular Jewish and Israeli sweet cracker or cookie is made with egg and sugar rolled out flat and cut into rectangles then twisted into a bow tie shape. Kichel (plural kichlach) is a Yiddish word meaning small cake. Jenna Lazar, pictured with Jenna Mantel, Ella Elkoni, and Ava Pries, chose her favorite color sanding sugar–purple & pink, because “everything is better with sparkles!” Due to their light, airy nature, the cookies have sometimes been called “nothings.” Although sweet, Kichel are typically eaten with a savory dip or topping like chopped herring.
Leah Koenig, the author of Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen, explains that a century ago, a kiddush (prayer, literally meaning “sanctifying”) in one traditional Ashkenazi synagogue more or less resembled any other, centering around three unchangeable foods: pickled herring, kichel, and schnapps or whiskey. This humble and decidedly odd trifecta was, for years, synonymous with kiddush, the breakfast and social hour that follows Saturday-morning services. Gil Marks, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, explains, “Early 20th-century synagogues rarely had kitchens, let alone iceboxes or refrigeration so, foods that traveled well and kept for long periods of time, like pickled fish, were ideal.”
Shabbat Kiddush at Beth El has grown in complexity from this modest start! Sometimes “short and “sweet” is the ticket so I vote to bring Kichel back to the Shabbat Kiddush! For more information about the classic Kiddush trio click the link below.
Kichel Bow Tie Cookies
· 6 eggs at room temperature
· 1 tsp salt
· 6 Tablespoons sugar
· 7 Tablespoons Oil
· 1 ¼ teaspoon Vanilla extract
(or Almond or zest & juice of 1 lemon)
· 4 teaspoons baking powder
· 3 ½ cups flour + ½ cup for rolling
· 1-2 cups white or colorful Sanding Sugar (for coating)
· (optional) add a few dashes of cinnamon to the sugar
· Place the rack on the middle shelf of the oven and heat to 350 degrees
· Sift together flour and baking powder and set aside
· Using stand mixer “wisk attachment” beat eggs and salt for 1 minute
· Add sugar-continue beating for 1 minute
· Add vanilla & oil-beat for 1 minute
· Change to “paddle attachment” and gradually add dry mixture.
Beat on low until a smooth dough is achieved and the gluten is well-developed (about 5 minutes)
· Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and kneed for 1-2 minutes until it no longer sticks. Cover with plastic wrap or damp cloth and let dough rest for 20-30 minutes to relax the gluten.
· Spread 1/2 cup of the sanding sugar to be used for coating on your work surface and roll the dough out on it to ¼ inch.
· Sprinkle the remaining cup of sanding sugar on the top of the dough. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1 x 2 inch rectangles. Give each strip a half twist to form the bow tie and arrange on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
· Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bowties are golden brown. It’s important that the cookies are fully baked, otherwise, they’ll collapse when cool.
· Remove to a rack and let cool (about an hour.)
· Store immediately in plastic to retain freshness.