Kiddush is the blessing over the wine. Kiddush is also the name of a post Sabbath morning services reception which begins with the recitation of the kiddush blessing. Kiddushes which are actually open house parties are a feature of synagogue life. At many synagogues there is a kiddush every week. Sometimes a congregant will sponsor the kiddush, ie: pick up the tab to celebrate a birth, a bar mitzvah, wedding or even a loved ones death. Yes, it’s a time old Jewish tradition to celebrate the yahrzeit, the death anniversary which is the birthday of the soul in the world to come. In some places kiddushes have turned into fancy smorgasbord receptions featuring things like fruit platters, sushi and spare ribs but once upon a time kiddushes were modest affairs . In Ashkenazi congregations the menu was standard– shot cups of wine and schanpps, sponge cake and marble cake , shmaltz herring and eire kichel.
Eire kichel pronounced eye-er-kichel (with the ‘ch” combining to make the gutteral “chet” sound is the Yiddish name for an almost extinct typically Jewish variation on the egg cookie. Eire means egg in Yiddish and kichel means cookie, but an Eire Kichel isn’t just any cookie. Its’ a light, sweet and crispy dough puff made up of equal parts of crunch and air. It’s sweet but not overpoweringly so and it’s the perfect complement to a cup of steaming hot tea. Food historian Gil Marks says the eire kichel was brought to the New World in storage tins by immigrants fearful that they would have trouble finding kosher provisions on their journeys.
For most of the 20th century eire kichel was a Jewish bakery staple–there are still a few bakeries that produce it today. Even today it is still baked by the large Jewish food manufacturers at Passover. But for a real taste of eire kichel, make it yourself at home.
This variation on eire kichel is called bow ties because the cookie has a twisted shape that resembles a bow tie.
This recipe is adapted from the Ratner’s Meatless Cookbook
4 whole eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups of flour
Additional sugar for dredging
One teaspoon cinnamon (optional) You can mix the dredging sugar with cinnamon for additional flavor.
Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer combine everything except the additional sugar. Beat together until the dough forms a ball.
Wrap the dough with cling film and let it rest for a half hour (no need to refrigerate)
Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C
Sprinkle flour and sugar onto your work surface and roll the dough out as thin as you can. Cut into 3/4 inch strips . Cut strips into 3 inch lengths and twist at the center like a bow tie
Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned
Cool on racks
Yields three dozen