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Mandelbread (Mandelbrot)

March 11, 2013

Well, here  I am, dear readers, sitting in an airport terminal, posting this blog to you.  Guilt is a great motivator.  It’s been 10 days (now 14 days, actually) since I last posted and all the ideas are waiting in line like a well-behaved boy scout troupe.  There was another post that was at the head of the line, but the previous week was filled with lots of cooking and baking for out-of-town family.  It was a downright Novio Family Marathon.  And the next day, we were set to visit our good friends in Santa Fe – on a nice direct flight, mind you.  I thought it would be much more expedient than flying into Albuquerque.

But this happened and that happened, and one little unforeseen glitch after another, and an unexpected shuttle to a different terminal, and, oh, did I mention?  I’m using a wheelchair, finally healing, from quite a little break in my leg.  Not exactly in an airport-sprinting way. So, my Novio and I both experienced a first.  We missed the flight to Santa Fe.  The darn plane decided (when does this happen?) to  close its doors a few minutes early and start down the runway. I tried my best to appeal to the agent’s higher self but that self had apparently garnered a seat on the  aforementioned airplane.

We plan, and God laughs.  Not going directly to Santa Fe, instead going  through Albuquerque.  And instead of the preplanned post, I’m writing a post on our good friend Frank’s favorite dessert – mandelbread  Don’t tell him, but there’s a plastic container filled with the good stuff, nestled between the T-shirts in the carry-on…

… It seems that forces of nature banded together to prevent me from writing this post at the time I wanted.  Everything from a missed flight to a fantastic visit with dear friends, from lost mandelbread photos to lost drivers’ licenses.

I found the mandelbread photos. So here we go…

Mandelbread, whose name is actually mandelbrot, means almond bread.  It’s a Jewish Eastern European  toasted cookie whose not-so-distant relative is the Italian biscotti.  There are many variations on this theme, from anise flavored, to one with dried cherries and white chocolate.  Just try Googling it.  You will be deluged with a plethora of mandlebread variations.

This a simply delicious version, flavored with the essence of lemon and orange along with sliced almonds. I love the recipe offered in The Book of Jewish Food, by Claudia Roden. I tweaked the baking procedure a bit, by turning off the oven for the second part of the baking.

To begin, have 3 eggs out of the fridge and at room temperature.

I like using ultra-fine sugar, also called Baker’s Sugar. Not essential, but I think it incorporates a bit better.

lemon and orange zest are ready

Zesting up the batter

I’m attached to this attachment.

The plot batter thickens

My dear friend Glenda helped me with this batch. She likes order. Can you tell?

I assure you – the  loaves look different depending on who shapes them but they all taste delicious.

The broken one is mine.


slightly adapted from Claudia Roden’s, The Book of Jewish Food


3 eggs
¾ c. sugar
1 c. canola or safflower oil
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
1 t. vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 T. baking powder
3 ¼ c. flour
1 c. sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat eggs with sugar to a pale thick cream in stand mixer or by hand.

Add oil, lemon and orange zest, vanilla, salt, and baking powder, and beat until light.

Slowly blend in flour and then almonds.

Place parchment paper in a large rectangular baking pan (aka jelly roll pan).  Lightly grease parchment paper.

Oil your hands so that they don’t stick, shape dough into 2 long slim logs about 3” on baking pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Let mandelbread cool, and then cut into diagonal slices, about ½” thick.  Arrange slices, cut side up, on pan (if you have no room, get out a second sheet for the extra slices.)

Turn off oven and place mandelbread on their sides and place back in oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly brown. (The original recipe calls for keeping oven temperature on – that will create a harder version -try it different ways to see what you like.)

They keep well in a plastic container, or in a tin box.  They also keep even longer in the fridge or freezer in a plastic container.

Excellent to serve unexpected company, if you can manage to keep them around.

Optional: Replace ½ c. to 1 c. of the  flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. I used ½ c. of whole-wheat pastry flour, and they were excellent—not too crumbly and not too hard.

ps My Novio just found the drivers’ licenses at the bottom of the tote bag. I think I’ll keep him.

Added March 8, 2013:

I chose Mandelbread to bring to my monthly Food Bloggers LA meeting. the theme being foods from our roots. As always, great food, interesting people, stimulating discussion. If you’re of Jewish Eastern European roots, it’s safe to say that you know mandelbread.

No two batches come out exactly the same.

march mandelbread

march mandelbread

mandelbread for fbla

Mandelbread March

  1. Fgstrauss permalink

    Judy: well done! Good story telling, and a great and enjoyable recipe! Thanks … Frank

  2. Hannah Simpson-Grossman, Israel permalink

    Oh my God! Sorry to hear about all those glitches! And I hope your leg heals quickly!
    The Mandelbrot looks great but I have finished my flour supply – cleaning my freezer for Pessach.
    Have you ever thought of making these with Matzo or Potato meal for Pessach?
    Feel well,

    • Thanks for the kind wishes Hanni! I re-posted this particular post because I wanted to add a few notes plus recent images… and my leg is doing much better! There are Passover recipes for mandelbread out there-I might try one- do you have a favorite? Have a beautiful Pesach – Judy

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