The Not-So-Jewish Baker Started Making Bread for Shabbat, Now Sells Bagels from Home

May 13, 2018

Bernadette Rapaport first started baking bread as a way to save money. “My husband and I eat a lot of bread,” she explains, to the point that they found it more cost-effective to make their own. But Rapaport quickly found that making bread was not as easy as one, two, three. “My first loaf of white bread was rock hard. It was awful!” she laughs. She sought the advice of her brother-in-law, a professional chef, who gave her tips on how to pick her flour among other things, and she found that with some guidance making bread (5 years ago, when she started, still using instant yeast) didn’t have to be scary after all.

Rapaport has been maintaining her current sourdough starter for about a year.

“At first I was afraid of bread,” she expresses, a common fear amongst newbies. “That’s why I never baked. I liked to cook but I was afraid of the science of it. As I kept on doing the loaves, I got better, and my brother-in-law told me about sourdough. I’ve eaten it but I never knew it was like a wild yeast.”

One of my first breads was challah bread—it’s a Jewish bread—we had it during shabbat dinners. I was the one making challah bread, and I’m not Jewish. He was the one who said you’re the one making bagels but you’re not Jewish so why not call it that? And I’m not good with names. I made it my Instagram name.”

Instant yeast was put aside as Rapaport began making her own starters. She tells us that her bread obsession began taking over her personal Instagram and she decided to make a separate account for her new hobby. When she consulted with her husband, who’s Jewish she clarifies, he suggested the Not-So-Jewish Bakery. And the name stuck.

“I like it with marmite!” Rapaport’s daughter declares during our interview; Rapaport says she personally could eat them with anything, from jam, to cheese, to bacon and eggs, but she also just loves to slather on a nice layer of butter and nothing else.

At the suggestion of a friend (and a fellow home-cook), Rapaport recently started posting about her bagels online and within a month she was receiving orders from strangers. She admits that she was surprised at the response, not realizing that there was such an interest in bagels locally, and how much it means to people to have bagels made the old-fashioned way.

Rapaport’s bagels take a lot of time to produce—a total of 3 days from preparing the starter, to mixing, proving, and baking—and the result is are bagels with thick crusts and a dense, chewy crumb. The filling round breads are made-to-order for pick-up only, and you can store some in the freezer to make them last longer (if you want to make your pick-up worth it by ordering 2-dozen in a batch). But if you’re anything like us, you’ll enjoy having one or two everyday for breakfast with a different spread or pairing that they’ll sooner reach your mouth than the freezer.

Not-So-Jewish Bakery

A home-baker who specializes in sourdough bagels.

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Bea Osmeña SEE AUTHOR Bea Osmeña

Bea Osmeña is a healthy-ish eater who is just as likely to take you to a vegan joint as she is to consume a whole cheese pie to herself. A former picky eater, Bea has discovered the joys of savory fruit dishes, but still refuses to accept pineapples on her pizza. On the rare occasion you catch her without food in her mouth, you are likely to find her looking at books she can't afford, hugging trees, or talking to strange animals on the street.

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