At 95, baker Ben Moskowitz—owner of the Star Bakery, in Oak Park, Michigan—has been retired for several years. But he still goes into the bakery, where his daughter Esther carries on the tradition with great honey cake, corn rye, and the best kichel, meaning “cookie,” I have ever tasted.
Sometimes kichel describes any old cookie or cracker that is a little sweet, like the rectangular Lithuanian version, which is both salty and sweet, and often served with herring. But Moskowitz’s bow tie kichel is different. It is light, crisp, sweet, and crunchy.
Born in Apsha, Czechoslovakia (now in Ukraine), a town of 200 Jews at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, Moskowtiz came to Detroit after losing much of his family in WWII. “The only reason I keep doing what I am doing,” he once told me, “is I don’t want my recipes to die.”
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.