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Does One Recite a Beracha Over Baked Pastries Eaten for Dessert at a Bread Meal?
 
If a person eats bakes pastries such as cake or cookies at the end of a bread meal, does he recite a Beracha, or is the pastry covered by the Beracha of "Ha'mosi" that he recited over the bread?

The Halacha in such a case hinges on the definition of the Halachic term "Pat Ha'ba'a Be'kisnin," which refers to certain types of baked pastries. The Talmud establishes that one who eats baked goods that fall under the category of "Pat Ha'ba'a Be'kisnin" recites the Beracha of "Bore Mine Mezonot," rather than the Beracha of "Ha'mosi." It is unclear, however, precisely to which kind of foods this term refers. The Bet Yosef (commentary to the Tur by Maran, author of the Shulhan Aruch), in Siman 168, records three different views regarding the definition of "Pat Ha'ba'a Be'kisnin":

1) Bread with a sweet flavor that disqualifies it for the Halachic category of "bread."
2) Bread with a "pocket," meaning, that is filled with nuts and the like.
3) Bread that is baked in such a fashion that it acquires a crunchy texture.

The Bet Yosef rules that since the recitation of Berachot is required on the level of "De'rabbanan" (Rabbinic enactment, as opposed to Torah law), we may rule leniently and recite the less specific Beracha of "Mezonot" in all three cases. Meaning, even if a given food item meets only one of these criteria, one who eats that item recites "Mezonot," since one view among the authorities allows reciting "Mezonot" in such a case. Therefore, one recites the Beracha of "Mezonot" over foods such as cakes, cookies and crackers, even though in most cases they meet only one of the aforementioned three conditions.

The "Safek" ("uncertain") status of such foods becomes relevant in the case described above, where a person eats a baked pastry for dessert at a bread meal. If a person eats sponge cake, for example, which is sweetened but is not crunchy and does not have a filling, then according to the second and third views cited above he does not recite a Beracha. Since sponge cake is not considered "Pat Ha'ba'a Be'kisnin" according to these opinions, it has the status of bread and is thus covered by the recitation of "Ha'mosi" at the beginning of the meal. Therefore, in deference to these opinions, one should not recite a Beracha when he eats sponge cake or similar cakes for dessert at the end of a bread meal.

The only case in which one would recite "Mezonot" over a baked pastry eaten for dessert with a bread meal is when the pastry meets all three of the aforementioned criteria. If the food item is sweetened, has a filling, and has a crunchy texture, then one would, indeed, recite "Mezonot," since according to all views this food does not have the status of bread and was thus not included under the "Ha'mosi" recitation. Common examples of this kind of food are wafers and sandwich cookies, which are sweetened and crunchy, and have a cream filling. Another example is the bak-lawa which is common among many Middle Eastern communities. The bak-lawa consists of a hard crust, is filled with nuts and is sweetened. Accordingly, as Rabbi Moshe Halevi (Israel, 1961-2001) rules in his work Birkat Hashem, one who eats bak-lawa for dessert at a bread meal must recite the Beracha of "Mezonot" before eating. (Incidentally, if one partakes of a bak-lawa outside the context of the meal, then his obligation to recite a Beracha Aharona depends on the amount of crust and filling he eats. In most cases, one would not eat in a single sitting an amount of bak-lawa that contains a Ke'zayit of dough, and thus generally speaking "Al Ha'mihya" would not be recited. One may be required to recite "Bore Nefashot" if he partook of a Ke'zayit of filling.)

It should be noted that on Shabbat, some authorities advise in any event eating dessert after Birkat Ha'mazon, in order to require the recitation of additional Berachot. The case we addressed here is when a person ate dessert before Birkat Ha'mazon, and the question thus arises as to whether he must recite "Mezonot," or whether the dessert has been included under the Beracha of "Ha'mosi" recited at the beginning of the meal.

Summary: If one eats a baked pastry for dessert before Birkat Ha'mazon during a bread meal, then he does not recite the Beracha of Mezonot unless the pastry has a crunchy texture, is sweetened, and has a filling. Examples of this kind of food include sandwich cookies, wafers, and bak-lawa. If, however, one eats ordinary cakes or cookies, he does not recite a Beracha in such a case.