Inside the Bakeries that Make Chanukah Treats

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10 Dec 2015

One thousand doughnuts a day. That’s how many oily treats L’Esti’s Desserts, an OU Kosher-certified bakeshop, fries up and ships out in the weeks leading up to—and during—Chanukah.  Approximately  18,000 treats will be sizzled, drizzled and supplied to stores across the country.

Known for their high-quality, high-end kosher desserts for caterers, L’Esti’s began packaging their sweets for distribution about eight years ago. L’Esti’s is nestled rather inconspicuously among a neighborhood in Brooklyn filled with auto repair shops.

Among a dedicated staff of 25 mainly Russian-speaking culinary professionals under the talent and vision of L’Esti’s owner Peter Aba, a team of eight focus on a specialty line exclusively for donut production and delivery. After mixing ingredients in large tubs, the dough is left to rise before rolled out into sheets and circles are pressed out. They are fried in large vats—and once cooled—filled with a variety of flavors such as chocolate and vanilla crème, raspberry and traditional jams. Lastly, they are covered with powdered sugar, sprinkles or chocolate.

Donuts can be left out or refrigerated. “Refrigeration doesn’t change the taste,” assured Rafael Ariyev, a specialist in the company’s sales department.

We haven’t stumbled on any commentary that says Gan Eden smells like a bakery, but walk down 63rd Avenue in Brooklyn and passing by Lilly’s Bakery, we hope it might. During a tour of the industrial facility—which specializes in baked goods products—we discovered that coconut macaroons were the sources of the day’s heavenly aroma.

Erv Guttman, the production manager at Lilly’s, won’t say exactly how many cookies are produced as each product is made based on store orders and they shop to both Jewish and non-Jewish groceries around the country. Guttman says that the sales of Chanukah baked goods is about five percent of their total sales for the weeks leading up to and during the holiday. The company often donates leftover holiday baked goods to local yeshivas.

Lilly’s bakes various Chanukah themed sugar cookies—menorah, dreidels and magen davids—some dipped in chocolate, some covered in sprinkles. Preparation begins with creating the dough, which is then rolled flat. Depending on the size and shape of the desired cookie, some will be machine-cut and others by hand. Industrial sized ovens line a room in the back of the bakery—one oven can hold around a few hundred cookies at a time, rotating on racks before left to cool. Then the cookies are decorated and packaged. The company even offers Blue and Whites, a play on their popular Black and White cookies.

Donuts are fried in small batches for quality assurance.

Finishing up a fresh batch.

Freshly fried donuts cool before getting filled.

Staff fills donuts using a machine programmed to dispense crème within the pastry.

Adding the finishing touches.

An industrial size mixer for the cookie dough at Lilly’s Bakery.

Racks of cookies wait to be baked.

Taking cookies out of the rotating industrial ovens.

Menorah shaped sugar cookies cool before packaging.

Lilly’s Bakery Manager Erv Guttman displays hand cut menorah cookies, dipped in chocolate with sprinkles.

The finished product.

A finished product waits to be labeled before getting shipped.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.