Pizza cake

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It started with a conversation with my sister over Passover, the Jewish festival during which one is prohibited from eating leavened good – bread, but also associated foodstuffs, such as pizza.

Our conversation morphed from a general moan about our diet for the week to a meditation on whether we could, realistically, make a cake that looked like a pizza. A bit of Googling revealed that we weren’t the first bakers to attempt this, so we decided to take on the challenge.

I made the base out of cookie cake, filled with chocolate buttons, both white and milk (not, perhaps, a traditional Italian recipe!) then layered it with red butter icing (actually rise and yellow blended together, since I discovered I had no red in stock) then grated white chocolate for the ‘cheese’, with some melted white chocolate drizzled over for an authentic feel. Toppings – this is where I could get creative. My sister, whose very impressive attempt you can see here, used candy corn in place of sweet own, but I chose an array of jelly sweets, royal icing (for the mushrooms) and jellybeans.

You can judge the result, but despite looking like something a five-year-old might have dreamt up, it actually tasted delicious too. And because it made so much (I can manage a whole pizza, but a whole cake is a challenge, even with my sweet tooth), I am now amused to see individually wrapped slices of pizza cake every time I go into my freezer.

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My Week in Writing

After last week’s front-page story about new research into the scale of the Holocaust, it was another week spent delving back in time – back to the 1860s, in fact. A new exhibition has opened in Edinburgh featuring photographs of the Prince of Wales’ trip to the Middle East in 1862, and with it his journal of the period has been published.

The diary was full of insights about his time in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, and it prompted me to look back into the JC archives to explore how the paper covered it and what the community felt about his trip. It turned out there was great interest, with readers expressing hope that the prince’s presence would lead to progress on an intractable issue.

Researching for that piece also led me to a short report about Passover and the cost of goods for families in 1862 – a problem that readers maintain remains today. The clipping formed the basis for an opinion piece, in which I considered how far the community has come since then, but at the same time how many things have not changed.

Elsewhere, I analysed the latest trade figures for the UK and Israel, noting in particular the growth in the trade of pharmaceutical and medical goods. I also reported on a planned demonstration against Uefa in May, and on a project in East Anglia to study forgotten poetry of the Holocaust.

Keeping with the literary theme, I covered the fact that five of the long-listed authors for the annual Women’s Prize for Fiction are Jewish, including Francesca Segal, whose novel the Innocents I reviewed last year, and an American novelist called Deborah Copaken Kogan. Writing about her novel sparked my interest, and I am now midway through the book and very much enjoying it so far.

I also covered the anniversary of Shlomo Argov’s death, marked at a ceremony hosted by John Bercow, and on a sweet – if slightly unlikely – campaign set up by a group of students in Prague urging the Nobel Committee to recognise a British Holocaust hero. In foreign news I covered the app that has been launched to accompany president Obama’s trip to Israel – where, incidentally, he will not be eating any bread.

Elsewhere, I blogged about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book for Running in Heels, arguing that while her mission is admirable, we’d be better served if she went on the campaign trail. And for Optima Magazine, I discussed whether witches are the new vampires, given the plethora of films about black-hatted sorceresses out at the moment.

On board the 74 bus in Jerusalem, tomorrow

Just over five years ago, I was in Tel Aviv when a suicide bomber struck at the city’s old central bus station.

In the attack, about fifteen people were injured; a few months later, during the festival of Passover, 11 people were killed and some 60 wounded when another terrorist struck a schwarma restaurant crowded with people having lunch.

I was on my gap year then, when the intifada was winding down but bombs and blasts were still happening with a terrifying frequency.

What I remember most clearly is not looking at the gruesome photos of bloodied victims, or shuddering at the thought of those affected, but of almost immediately boarding another, similar, Tel Aviv bus.

You feel apprehensive, of course, but you think ‘it won’t happen to me’, and you take your seat.

Bus rides, streetside cafes, beachfront bars like Mike’s Place (hit by a bomber in 2003, three dead, 50 injured); those are all a part of life in Israel, as around the world.

Today the area around the central bus station in Jerusalem will be cordoned off, but tomorrow? The people who managed to escape a dreadful fate on the 74 bus? They’ll have to catch it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

When terror becomes your reality, life has to go on. And it will in Jerusalem and across Israel, as it did throughout the last intifada.

But it shouldn’t have to, and we must hope and pray that this latest attack – a bomb of a scale not seen in the city since the early days of the security fence – will not be the start of another period when boarding a bus can mean endangering your life.