It's been two years since the Valley said goodbye to Karsh's Bakery, which was widely recognized as the best Jewish bakery in metro Phoenix before it closed. At that time, Karsh's fans mourned the loss of the bakery's famous challah, babka, and rye bread, decrying the lack of other good Jewish bakeries around town.
It's taken some time, but it would appear all is not lost. As of four months ago, Jerusalem Bakery AZ is open in Scottsdale, turning out fresh challah, and rugelach, as well as European pastries such as almond croissants, jam cookies, and lemon tarts.
Husband-and-wife team Lior and Lily Ben-Shushan own and operate the small brick-and-mortar bakery, which grew out of their business selling baked goods at local farmers markets. Both Ben-Shushans come to the Valley by way of Israel after spending about a decade living and working in San Francisco before moving to Phoenix about four years ago.
The couple says their specialty is a traditional Jerusalem-style challah bread that's made without eggs and can be topped with raisins, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds, or served plain. It's only available on Thursdays and Fridays, however, so if you want to nab a loaf you'd better plan ahead.
Other popular offerings include fresh pita bread, rye and sourdough breads (usually available Tuesday and Wednesday), and a Moroccan bread with herbs that's baked on large river stones for a moist, sweet flavor. (It's great with hummus or dipped in a strong, high-quality olive oil.) These are in addition to a selection of desserts and pastries that includes chocolate babka, cheese danish, plain and almond croissants, and hamantaschen, all of which Lior bakes fresh every morning before opening.
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"The bread, each one has a different personality," he says.
For a savory snack, there are also Turkish burekas, which combine flaky, buttery dough with fillings including spinach and cheese, feta and olives, and mushrooms. The couple makes their own marmalades in flavors including pineapple and lemon ginger, though the best one we tried was a peppery cherry tomato variety.
The bakery, which is located at 10953 North Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, you can also find Jerusalem Bakery at the Phoenix Public Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.