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In my world, nothing completes the menu in a shared meal like a wonderful dessert. What if it has to be kosher and non-dairy? And it’s Shabbat or a Jewish holiday, so you want something special. Sometimes, commercial baked goods are just fine – even delicious – but too often they’re overly sweet, dry, and lacking real flavor. As a home baker, I’ve spent years in search of reliable techniques for parve (neutral, that is neither dairy nor meat according to Jewish law) desserts and other wonders of the oven.

I do most of my baking on Thursday nights and just before holidays. Baking channels my creativity and desire for authenticity into a form that pleases the eye, nose, and taste buds, too. Living in the city, it’s also one of the most frequent and meaningful ways that I connect with nature. Working with flour, sugar, fruits, oils, and eggs – not to mention nuts and chocolate – reminds me that plants, trees, and animals all contribute to the food that sustains us and brings joy in the form of gorgeous cakes, cookies, and pies. Did I mention bread?

I’m a Conservative rabbi and cultural anthropologist. So I understand baking as both a religious obligation and a cultural practice shaped by my upbringing, education and community. The recipes and information here reflect what I do in my own kitchen, but you don’t have to keep kosher or be Jewish to enjoy them. If you’re Jewish and religiously observant, follow your rabbi’s guidance in matters of kashrut. My goal is to make kosher baking at home pleasurable and the parve breads and desserts on our tables consistently delicious.

Great parve baking is a challenge, but the rewards of success are well worth the effort. Baking without dairy products is a necessity for kosher meals at which meat is eaten. It is a gift at any time to family and friends who are lactose intolerant or avoid dairy for other reasons.

Time to go pre-heat the oven!

Rebecca Joseph
aka The Parve Baker

6 Responses to “About”

  1. Marlene Berg
    December 9th, 2008 at 5:50 am

    I wanted to e-mail you about something important and realized that I didn’t have your e-mail…Anyway not only did I find you, I found your incredibly wonderful website. Please write me as soon as possible.
    It was great seeing you and sharing dinner in SF.

  2. Alison Fox
    November 30th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Hey, Becky, give me an e-mail, pls, important…Nice blog! Interesting how you combined your interests…Ali

  3. Sara
    February 23rd, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Hi Rebecca, I wanted to tell you about my blog
    http://www.creativejewishmom.com and ask for some help in getting the word out! It’s dedicated to helping busy Jewish parents enhance their homes and their family’s connection to Judiasm through creativity. All the best, and hope you enjoy it as well!

  4. Stacy Menzer
    March 6th, 2010 at 8:11 pm


    We’re putting together a CSH Cookbook out here in the Hamptons. Last year I made your wonderful bread pudding for a communal Shabbat dinner when we had a scholar in residence weekend that was a major hit. I’d love it if you would submit a couple of your favorites to the book, especially the bread pudding one….
    Kol tuv

  5. Leilani Hermiasih
    February 6th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Dear Rebecca,
    I’m Lani, studying at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. What I’m about to say here is irrelevant with your fabulous project here. ;)
    It’s just that I couldn’t find anywhere else to contact you personally, so here it goes..

    I’m currently doing my bachelor degree’s thesis in cultural anthropology, and it’s about the batik-groups in Giriloyo. I heard you have done research there as well. Well, I have been staying at Bu Hartinah’s house, and they very much want to hear from you.. :)

    I’ll tell you more if you send me your email address.. Hehe. Thanks a lot! :)


  6. Barbara
    November 12th, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I found a wonderful recipe for a cake that I want to make for my granddaughter’s birthday, but it calls for 2 sticks of butter and has a buttercream frosting. Can I substitute margarine for (all that!) butter and not destroy the flavor? Appreciate any help in transforming this recipe to parve without destroying it! Thank you!

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