What is Mandelbroit?
Mandelbrodt or Mandelbrot or Mandelbroit or anglicised to Mandelbread is a dessert associated with Eastern European Jews. Pronounced – mohn-dl - it literally means almond (mandel) bread (brodt).
It is not bread as we think of it today. The basic dough is made into a loaf that is first baked and then sliced into sections as small cookies and then baked again. Twice baked to reduce the moisture content and seal in the flavour. . Biscotti and other hard baked breads were popular in ancient Rome and spread to other parts of the continent. Historians confirm that almonds were known to ancient European cooks and incorporated into many recipes. Precise origin of the cookie is unknown as is it’s historic relationship to biscotti a generic term, which means biscuit or cookie.
Before the Diaspora however there was a community living in Rome. It was and still is the oldest continental Jewish community settlement in the history of Europe. The Jews lived as always as part of the cultural landscape and as always lived in isolation of one kind or another. There were many Jews in Italy who may have taken the recipe to Eastern Europe.
While Mandelbroit is usually made with white bleached flour there are several variations that are acceptable. Whole-wheat flour adds another layer of flavour, while rice flour is used for those who want to avoid gluten products. When producing Mandelbroit for Passover it is possible to substitute potato starch and matzo cake flour.
The lists of ingredients that can be used to enhance the flavour include sweets such as chocolate or dried fruit. When made with walnut it is called k’mish broit.
Completely lactose free, using no milk products: Mandelbroit maintains respect for the rules of kashrut or kosher.
To speak of Jewish food is to speak of a complex subject. We speak of the Jewish Diaspora as if it was singular but in fact there are more than one. Like Russian nesting dolls Diaspora lead to Diaspora – exponentially: the Sephardim in Spain and the Askenazi in Eastern Europe and Germany. Mandelbroit developed adapting to the cuisines of countries around the world. The variations are as numerous as there are countries and families.