Food for thought: Memories of naunte and marble cake
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Food for thought: Memories of naunte and marble cake

Two local chefs recall their grandmothers' special recipes

Marble cake  (Photo by Qwart/iStockphoto.com)
Marble cake (Photo by Qwart/iStockphoto.com)

Sometimes food goes beyond just taste and nutrition. Particular dishes can evoke powerful and dear memories – another reason to heat up the stove and get busy in the kitchen.

Here are two memories, and two recipes, from the owners of Creative Kosher, a Pittsburgh-based kosher catering service.

Moishe Siebzener:
As a child, my siblings and I looked forward to making naunte with my grandmother for Passover. We would see our mother take out the all the Passover utensils, the wooden bowl, a red-handled chopper for chopping nuts and the mixer beaters my sister was sure to lick the batter from. With each item taken out of storage, we would get more and more excited because we knew it was almost time to make naunte with our grandmother.

The day before Passover, my grandmother would arrive with all the ingredients to make our beloved naunte. As we cooked, the smell of sugar, honey, and nuts boiling would make our mouths water with anticipation of our favorite treat. Once the mixture was boiled correctly, we would each take a turn pouring the mixture onto aluminum foil and then my grandmother would place the foil in the fridge to cool. That night, my siblings and I would sneak downstairs to fight over who got that year’s first gooey bite of naunte. While my grandmother passed away many years ago, her tradition lives on. Naunte is not only a family staple at our Passover meals, we eat naunte year-round.

Deena Ross:
I grew up in Manhattan, living on the seventh floor of an apartment building, while my Nana (grandmother) lived on the sixth floor of the same building. I remember watching TV regularly at my Nana’s apartment when I needed to take a break from my parents. My Nana was always there to listen when I needed to talk and always made me feel so loved. My favorite memory of my childhood is Friday afternoons, when my Nana came up to our apartment for cake and tea.

Every week, my Nana was charged with whipping up a cake for the whole family to enjoy as a pre-Shabbat treat. Her go-to cake was a marble pound cake. I still remember daydreaming about Friday cake while sitting in math and biology class and running out of school on Fridays to get home for cake with Nana.

We hope these recipes give you and your family a sweet and comforting treat during these difficult times.

Naunte

½ pound honey
1 ½ pounds walnuts
½ cup sugar

On a low fire, simmer sugar and honey until a low boil. Add nuts and stir until the mixture becomes a gooey paste. Then, pour the mixture onto a parchment sheet and flatten until ¼ inch thick. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Once completely cooled, break or bend off pieces as desired. Enjoy!

Marble Pound Cake

2 ¼ cups sugar
1 ½ cup softened margarine
1 tablespoon vanilla
¾ teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
¼ cup cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Bundt pan well to avoid cake sticking. Beat sugar and margarine for 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla, salt, and eggs. Beat for 3 minutes. Add cake flour and beat for a final 2 minutes. Place 1 cup of batter into a separate bowl and mix in cocoa. Pour vanilla batter into Bundt pan. Place large spoonfuls of chocolate batter in the middle on the vanilla batter. With a knife, marble the chocolate batter into the vanilla batter. Bake for one hour, or until a knife/toothpick can be removed from the cake with no batter. Remove from pan, cool and enjoy! PJC

Moishe Siebzener and Deena Ross are owners of Creative Kosher.

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