Israel is a global melting pot of cultures and cuisines whose eclectic food scene has garnered international fascination in recent years. In his new book, Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking, Uri Scheft, the Danish-Israeli master baker and creative genius behind Lehamim Bakery (Tel Aviv) and Breads Bakery (New York City), defines and celebrates this baking culture in a way that no book has done before.

Born to Danish parents in Israel, Scheft split his youth between Ra’anana and Copenhagen, attended pastry school in Denmark, trained in France, and married a woman of Moroccan and Yemenite heritage. Combining the many cultural influences of his life – Middle Eastern flavours and traditions, European pastry techniques, baking experience in Italy, Istanbul, and beyond – Scheft provides nearly 100 unique recipes in Breaking Breads for flatbreads, stuffed breads, challahs, and cookies that are developed with the home baker in mind.

Bread in its many forms is at the heart of Israeli life, and Scheft, writes that his “passion for bread extends to a constant desire both to discover new breads and to revitalise traditional recipes to suit modern tastes with better-quality ingredients, new fillings, or different shapes”.

Honouring old traditions while imbuing them with the new, Scheft’s signatures include Festive Challahs, Shakshuka Focaccia, and The Famous Chocolate Babka, a Jewish-American confection stuffed with nutella that has attained cult status at Breads Bakery in New York City. Scheft also features traditional breads that are essential Saturday staples in Moroccan and Yemenite culture. In the last chapter, Scheft offers recipes for classic condiments integral to the Israeli table like Hummus, Tahina, and the Israeli hot sauce Z’hug.

To Scheft, modern Israeli food treads the line between respecting tradition and embracing discovery. It borrows flavours and techniques from all of its peoples – from Denmark to Ethiopia, Morocco to Poland – to create an innovative new cuisine. Breaking Breads celebrates Scheft’s passion for food and baking, and will not only enchant readers with a new food culture, but also teach them the fundamental’s needed to master bread baking at home with detailed instructions and process photographs on mixing, kneading, proofing and more. Scheft believes that once they sharpen their basic skills, home bakers can take his cue by experimenting with new flavours and styles inspired by their own heritage and the world around them.