Kamishbrodt is charming, tasty traditional biscuit


While biscotti may be the current darling among the latte crowd, our grandmothers know that these delicious and hip biscuits are simply kamishbrodt with a great p.r. agent. And grandmothers know best.

Fortunately, the most challenging thing about kamishbrodt is agreeing on the proper name for this Ashkenazic delight. Is it kamishbrodt or kamishbread? Or mandelbrodt? Koomish? Comish? I won’t even try to resolve that dispute.

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But since we’re Jews, even if we finally agree on the correct name for this biscuit, there will still be disagreements. Take, for example, two common ingredients in kamishbrodt: fat and nuts. There are cooks who only make kamishbrodt with vegetable oil while others swear by butter or margarine. There are even some cooks who add no fat at all preferring to use additional eggs to bind the ingredients together. And because the literal translation of mandelbrodt is “almond bread,” some cooks insist that authentic mandelbrodt must be made with almonds.

Fortunately, everyone agrees on how to bake kamishbrodt. You form the dough into logs and bake them a first time. You allow the baked logs to cool briefly, and then you slice them. The slices go back onto the pan for a second baking at a lower temperature. This second baking dries and crisps the cookies, making them quite hard. Because this second baking removes all moisture, the cookies will remain fresh for an extended length of time at room temperature. Cooks around the world use this same technique to make Italian biscotti and cantucci, German zwieback, Greek biskota paxemadia, and Russian sukhariki.

Kamishbrodt is a surprisingly adaptable baked good. For those who prefer their biscuits hard and crisp, kamishbrodt fills the bill. If you like your cookies soft, try dipping your kamishbrodt in hot tea or coffee or a glass of cold milk. For those who prefer a crunchy treat before dessert — or even before the main course — you can reduce the amount of sugar, add various herbs and cheeses to the dough, and your kamishbrodt is transformed into a savory accompaniment to a salad or a glass of chardonnay.

Baking kamishbrodt is simple. You probably have the main ingredients in your kitchen right now. They are eggs, sugar, fat, and flour. Better yet, the prepared dough can be refrigerated for a few days before baking. If your baked kamishbrodt begins to soften with age, it can be re-crisped in a hot oven in just a few minutes. And the biscuits make a great hostess gift that can be prepared weeks ahead. And they travel well.

I make a kamishbrodt that’s plenty hard and satisfies my cinnamon craving. Phyllis Silverman, a vice president of the congregation at Nusach Hari B’nai Zion and a fabulous cook, makes a delicious more traditional version that is both light and crisp. I invite you to try these two versions and e-mail me a favorite recipe of your own. I will try to include some of the more unique recipes in upcoming columns.



3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup cinnamon chips (available in the baking aisle at Schnucks and Dierbergs)

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (walnuts or almonds can be substituted)

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)


1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon


Combine eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add oil and vanilla and continue to beat until thoroughly combined. Let rest.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to egg mixture. When mixtures are combined remove bowl from mixer stand. Stir in cinnamon chips, pecans and shredded coconut.

Cover dough and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight.

While mixture chills combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Sprinkle half of topping mixture either onto the counter or on a piece of waxed paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece on the topping mixture to form a 12-inch log, slightly flattened and squared off. Place the four logs onto prepared baking sheet, two inches apart.

Bake kamishbrodt for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow kamishbrodt to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Carefully lift one log at a time onto a cutting board and, at an angle, cut each log into 12 pieces approximately 1 inch wide. Place these pieces back onto lined baking sheet, cut side up, and sprinkle with some of the remaining topping mixture. Repeat with remaining logs.

Place baking sheet in oven for 15 minutes. Remove pan, turn kamishbrodt over to other side, sprinkle with remaining topping mixture, and place in oven for an additional 15 minutes.

Transfer kamishbrodt onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Store cooled kamishbrodt in a zip-lock bag or an airtight tin for up to three weeks. The cookies may also be frozen in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Yield: Four dozen cookies.

Phyllis Silverman’s Koomish

Mix these wet ingredients together in a bowl:

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Combine these dry ingredients together in a bowl:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup nuts

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Form 2-2 1/2 loafs and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Combine in a small bowl:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Sprinkle sugar mixture over top and bake for 20 minutes.

Turn oven off and immediately slice loafs. Place back into oven to dry.

Margi Lenga Kahn, mother of five and grandmother of one, is the Community Relations Coordinator for the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) in University City. She also teaches cooking at the Kitchen Conservatory and in private homes. Cooking is a labor of love for Margi, who enjoys creating culinary delights for family and friends. Please send comments and suggestions to [email protected].