A kosher bakery is a bakery that serves and produces baked goods that are acceptable under Kashrut, the body of Jewish laws that deal with food. A bakery that sells items usually associated with Jewish culture, such as bagels or matzah balls, will not qualify as a kosher bakery if it does not adhere to the dietary laws. Kosher bakeries are most often found in regions with large Jewish populations, but they may be located anywhere.
The most important aspect of kosher bakeries is their adherence to Jewish dietary laws, or Kashrut. To refer to a baked good as kosher is not so much a description of the style of food as it is a description of how it was made, what was used to make it, and how it was served. Blintzes, bagels and matzah, although traditionally affiliated with Jewish culture, may not be kosher, depending on how they are made. Conversely, a bakery that serves bread products not usually affiliated with Jewish culture may be kosher if the ingredients and baking methods are in accordance with Kashrut.
Kosher bakeries are most commonly located near population centers with large Jewish communities. Some kosher bakeries offer online services for people who wish to order kosher baked goods but do not live near a kosher bakery. In either case, it is important for the consumer to determine the authenticity of the bakery and its claims of being kosher before purchasing any product. This can be achieved by asking about the supervision for each product.
One important aspect of kosher bakeries is challah. Although challah can refer to a specific type of bread, it also may refer to a mitzvah in which a small portion of the batter or finished bread product is broken off and burned. This mitzvah is obligatory if the owner of the bakery is Jewish and the dough is made from wheat, oats, rye, spelt or barley. If this mitzvah is not performed in the bakery itself, it can be performed at home.
Before a bakery can claim to be a kosher bakery, it must pass inspection and receive supervision from a rabbi. This is necessary to determine if the ingredients used to make the baked goods are kosher and if the methods of cooking are kosher. For example, a rabbi might check to see if a utensil that came in contact with meat was used to stir components that contained dairy products. Such an act would not be permitted and would make the end product non-kosher.