Jewish baked goods have brought families together around the table for centuries. In food writer and editor Shannon Sarna’s childhood home, that tradition came with Italian accents. Yiddish quips and rugelach mixed with her mother’s Christmas cookies. The December holidays overlapped.
Dad, a musician, was an early Food Network adopter, cooking dinners for his kids on weeknights. Mom was in musical theater, whipping up meatballs on weekends. Mom also was an avid home baker, working steadily through a beloved 1975 edition of Beard on Bread. Sarna’s favorite was the banana bread. And as her mother creamed butter and sifted flour, Sarna had official duties: to chop the walnuts. The book still sits in Sarna’s South Orange home, its pages bearing the marks of avid use: coffee-cup rings and batter splatters, scattered dots of oil. Only now, Sarna is the one guiding the bakes.