So the past week has included two cake baking disasters for me. I have a lovely post about coffee cake all ready to go, but have not successfully baked one yet. I started with a challenging one that included a tunnel of cream cheese filling that ended up just under-baked enough to collapse on itself when I turned it out. Then I decided to pare down to a simpler one with the traditional cinnamon nut crumb topping. As it was baking I decided to type up the recipe, and I had the horrible realization that I had put in double the baking soda. By this time the batter had bubbled up the sides of the pan and the topping had sunk completely to the bottom. So with two cakes in the trash and nothing to post I decided to take a break and read the New York Times.
Low and behold there is an article on the growing popularity of Kosher foods. This managed to raise my hackles despite the cake fatigue. Since I have already mentioned some of my issues with the kosher meat industry, I’ll give you my run down on my issues with the rest of the kosher food industry. Most packaged, canned or processed foods that bear a hechsher, do so only because the food production company has paid a company, like the Orthodox Union, to send out a rabbi inspector (a mashgiah), to check out the ingredients and the manufacturing process for trayfe or any practices that might mix meat and dairy. They typically pay a large sum of money for this service and inspections are done about once a year. There is absolutely nothing about this inspection that looks for health or safety violations, so whatever feelings of “purity” people are getting from the hechsher are based totally in emotion.
Seriously, Extreme Torchin’ Tamale Pringles have a hechsher and so does Toll House refrigerated cookie dough, and it got recalled over the summer for e. coli contamination. Trust me, I have learned from experience, e. coli is not something you want to encounter and a hechsher won’t protect you from it. The New Yorker Magazine did an article about a year ago on how China is becoming the fastest growing exporter of kosher food and the mashgihim who are selling their services to the Chinese factories. After the rash of tainted and toxic Chinese made food imports a few years ago, a simple hechsher is not enough to convince me of the purity of these products. As I have stated many, many, times, if keeping kosher is important to you, the best and healthiest way to do it is to eat real, fresh, food you have purchased locally and made from scratch, not from a box. If what you are looking for is purity and healthier foods … well the same logic applies.
OK… rant over. Tomorrow I am having the cookie monsters over to make peanut butter cookie and assuming I don’t totally ruin those, I will attempt my cake once again and you may eventually get to read my fascinating history of the coffee cake in America.