In My Father’s Bakery A Bronx Memoir
204 pages; Hardcover
No Photographs or Sketches
Red Rock Press, NY, NY
Reviewed by Ashima Dua for Good Cooking, Inc., Early Summer 2007
For many of us, each passing year reminds us of a simpler time we
enjoyed during our childhood and adolescence. A time that was
filled with innocence, first experiences and new life events. It
is this chord that Marvin Korman strikes in his novel My Father’s
Bakery A Bronx Memoir. Korman magically transports the reader from
present day back to the way life was in Bronx during the 1930s and
40s. Right at the beginning, we learn Korman’s father, owned
Grossfeld & Korman’s Bakery in New York’s northern most borough
the Bronx. It is this bakery that forms the backdrop for the rest
of the book and provides the glue that holds the subsequent
As the reader thumbs through chapter after chapter, he/she begins
to experience the different events that occurred in Korman’s
youth. Each chapter fixates on one life event and yet somehow
always seems to relate back to the bakery where Korman spent the
majority of his youth outside of school. We learn of Korman’s
Uncle Maxie, who finds a safe haven at the bread counter at
Grossfeld & Korman via patrons who overlook the fact that he has
the mental capacity of a ten year old. We cross paths with Aunt
Sylvia, who while working at Grossfeld & Korman develops a life
long affair with landlord Danny Schulman. And perhaps the most
delightful information we gather through the course of the book
are a few of the signature recipes prepared every day at the
Korman includes a couple of these recipes right in the novel text,
but also provides the reader a separate easy access booklet which
contains ten recipes from the bakery which have been adapted for
use by the home baker. The booklet contains Uncle Menashe’s Magic
Challah, Albert’s Devil’s Food Cake, and even a variation of his
father’s Health Bread. The recipes are all easy to follow and are
accompanied by suggested musical pieces to fill the void space
that always forms while waiting for the oven to finish baking. I
tried two of the recipes myself and found myself eagerly waiting
to taste the finished product as its aroma permeated my home. I
must say the wait was well worth it. Both items were classic
old-fashioned scrumptious baked goods with real butter and real
sugar. There were no commercially produced lower fat items which
we sometimes substitute in our cooking today. And perhaps because
of this the end result was an experience of pure bliss in my
So the next time you’re feeling nostalgic about your childhood
years, pick up Marvin Korman’s In my Father’s Bakery and transport
yourself back to a time when everything seemed possible. You may
even discover a new favorite recipe to delight your friends and
family. In the meantime, perhaps one of the two listed below will
wet your appetite.
Albert’s Devil Food Cake
2 cups sugar (1 cup + 1 cup)
½ cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces (one stick) plus 2 tablespoons softened
2 eggs beaten
Handful of cornflake or pound-cake crumbs
One 9” x 5” x 4” loaf pan
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) In a medium-sized bowl combine 1 cup of sugar and
the cocoa with the buttermilk and the vanilla.
3) In another bowl combine the pastry flour, the
baking soda and the salt.
4) In a large bowl, cream the butter, adding the
remaining sugar and the beaten eggs. Beat all the
5) Combine everything in the large bowl, mixing
thoroughly with a rubber spatula until the batter is
6) Grease the loaf pan with the remaining butter and
sprinkle the sides with the crumbs. The batter should
fill about 2/3 of the pan.
7) Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for
about 50 to 60 minutes.
While you are waiting, turn on the Patti LuPone
recording of the cast album of Cole Porter’s “Anything
Goes” (RCA Victor) 51 minutes of glorious Porter.
8) After 50 minutes or so, insert a sharp knife into
the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, the
cake is finished. If some batter adheres to the knife,
the cake requires additional baking.
9) When the cake is done, let is sit outside the oven
in its pan for about ten minutes. Slide a dull knife
around the sides of the pan before attempting to
remove it. Turn out on a rack and cook.
Note: This cake is sweet enough without any frosting.
But if you must, any standard prepared chocolate
frosting should satisfy your craving.
Amelia Billingsley’s Chocolate Pudding
3 egg whites
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 ¼ cups milk (1 ¼ plus 2 cups)
¾ cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1) In a small bowl (7 to 8 inches across), beat 2 egg
whites until foamy and set aside.
2) In another bowl, combine the cocoa and the
cornstarch. Pour 1 ¼ cups of milk into the cocoa
mixture and stir until smooth.
3) In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk,
sugar and salt. Mix well. Bring to a boil over high
heat, stirring constantly.
4) With a rubber spatula, combine the cocoa mixture
with the milk mixture in the large saucepan. Bring to
a boil and cook for approximately two minutes,
stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
5) Quickly pour about a cup of hot cocoa mixture into
the reserved egg-whites and stir briskly, then pour
this cocoa/egg-white mixture back into the saucepan.
6) Add the vanilla extract and cook over a medium to
low heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture
starts to bubble.
7) Quickly pour into six small serving dishes. Cool to
room temperature, then place the dishes in the
refrigerator for at least one hour, until the pudding