Whatever you do, order the Black & White Cookies!
Today we’d like to spotlight Lil’ Yenta’s Bakery. This family-owned vegan Philadelphia bakery recreates nostalgic Jewish baked goods—from hamantaschen and rugelach to challah and babka!
Small-Batch Vegan Bakery Lil’ Yenta’s
The small-batch vegan bakery, Lil’ Yenta’s, first launched a few years ago as a vegan pop-up. Selling their items at events and in local stores like V Marks the Shop, Lil Yenta’s accumulated a fanbase of plant-based eaters looking for vegan Jewish fare that they would otherwise not be able find. This is founder Kimberly Resnick’s goal.
Resnick told VegOut, “My biggest apprehension about becoming fully vegan was that I wouldn’t be able to eat any of my favorite nostalgic foods again. After I became vegan, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. When I did find a veganized Jewish treat, sadly, it seemed like an afterthought. I felt like somebody needed to make it their mission to thoughtfully veganize these traditional treats. So why not me?”
Vegan Jewish Recipes from Scratch
During the lockdown, Resnick and her stepchild took to the kitchen, experimenting with vegan Jewish recipes from scratch. “There were tears! Collapsing babkas and crunchy, sticky black & whites was a memory we can look back and laugh about now. I didn’t want everything to be good for being vegan, I wanted everything to be delicious for everyone,” shared Resnick.
Now, the Lil’ Yenta’s menu includes a wide selection of Resnick-tested-and-approved Jewish dishes and pastries. Challah, babka, black & white cookies, potato latkes, chocolate-covered matzo, and kugel are a few of the bakery’s rotating offerings. The bakery also builds on the classic items with unique flavor and color combinations, like Pineapple Upside Down Cake Hamantaschen and Rainbow Challah Bread!
When asked which item she’s most proud of, Resnick said, “The Black & White Cookie because that’s my mom’s favorite. As long as I can remember, we would get a black & white anywhere they were sold, looking for the perfect black & white. Not too cookie, not too cakey, flavorful icing with just enough snap and cookie-icing ratio. It’s a lot to consider! ‘Favorite black & white’ is a very personal choice. Now this is my mom’s favorite, and that’s the best compliment of all time!”
Honoring Jewish Culture Through Vegan Food
Beyond their delicious taste, Lil’ Yenta’s baked goods are loved by the community for the heart behind them. Not only are customers able to enjoy unique desserts, but they’re honoring Resnick’s Jewish culture through vegan food.
“I am vegan and Jewish. My whole family is from Brooklyn, and my grandpa was a Holocaust survivor. I wanted to do something to honor my culture that brings happiness into the world. I have a passion for vegan food and baked goods. I don’t think you should have to choose between compassion or culture. It’s also very important to preserve these old school baked goods my family loves. They just happen to be vegan,” expressed Resnick.
Lil’ Yenta’s Storefront in Philadelphia
After a few years operating as a pop-up, Lil’ Yenta’s recently graduated to a small storefront inside The Chilly Banana, a fellow vegan business specializing in banana whip sundaes. Resnick plans to focus on consistency and taste at the new location, with future plans to ship nationwide.