Halacha for Wednesday 3 Shevat 5779 January 9 2019

Question: What is the correct blessing for “Baklava”? Also, what is the blessing on a cake that contains only one spoon of flour? Similarly, what is the blessing on soup which contains a small amount of flour?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed that if a dish consists of several kinds of food, the blessing on the dish is that of the primary food. Thus, we have written that if one eats grape leaves stuffed with rice, one must recite the “Boreh Minei Mezonot” blessing on the rice, for that is the primary food and the leaves are secondary to it.

We have, nevertheless, added that this only applies to a dish comprised of two regular kinds of food. However, if the food contains a grain ingredient, such as flour or bread crumbs, the blessing on the food or dish will always be that of the grain ingredient, for the five grains (wheat, barley, oat, spelt, and rye) have an innate significance because of their satiating nature and are always considered the primary food.

The Blessing on “Baklava”
Based on this, a pastry made of thin layers of filo dough filled with nuts (Baklava) requires the “Boreh Minei Mezonot” blessing, for although the walnuts are the primary ingredient in this pastry, nevertheless, since the layers of dough are made of grain, the “Mezonot” blessing, and not “Boreh Peri Ha’etz,” must be recited.

Cake Made With Only a Small Amount of Flour
The rule that we have discussed that a grain derivative is always considered the primary ingredient is actually contingent upon one condition, which is that the grain product must give a good taste to the food or dish. However, if the grain product is meant merely to stabilize the food or to bind the various ingredients together, it is no longer considered primary and the appropriate blessing must be recited on the food.

Indeed, the Gemara (Berachot 37b) discusses this law and states that if a grain product was mixed into a food merely as a binding agent, the “Boreh Minei Mezonot” blessing is not recited on this food. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 208) rules likewise.

Based on the above, regarding cakes made from eggs, oil, and sugar, when a small amount (such as a spoonful) of flour is added to the batter not in order to add flavor, rather, in order for the cake to stand well, the blessing on such a cake is “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro,” for the primary ingredients are the sugar and eggs while the flour is only meant as a binding agent, in which case it cannot be considered primary at all.

The same applies to meringues made from egg whites and sugar in that although some flour is sometimes added to them, nevertheless, the correct blessing on meringues is “Shehakol”. Indeed, the Rambam (Chapter 3 of Hilchot Berachot) rules that if the grain product was added to the food merely as a binding agent, the “Boreh Minei Mezonot” blessing is not recited on the food. The Rambam adds that the same applies if the grain derivative was added to the food in order to give it a pleasant smell or color, for as long as the grain product was not added to add flavor, it is not considered the primary ingredient and the “Mezonot” blessing is not recited.

A Soup or Sauce Containing Flour
Based on the above Rambam, we can infer that the same applies when flour is added to a food in order to enhance its texture, such as adding flour to a soup as a thickening agent, and the blessing on the soup remains “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro” since the flour is not intended to add flavor and was only added to change the soup’s texture.

Similarly, those who add some flour cooked with water to a sauce or gravy in order to enhance its texture, the flour can certainly not be considered the primary ingredient and the blessing remains “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro.” The same applies to meatballs into which some bread crumbs are mixed in order to enhance the texture; the blessing on the meatballs remains “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro,” for the bread crumbs are not added for flavor and are added merely to enhance the texture of the meatballs and to prevent them from falling apart.

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