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Let's eat cake at Rosh Hashanah

 

September 7, 2018

Date Honey Cake recipe

Ronnie Fein

(The Nosher via JTA)-As a kid I would shiver at the prospect of eating honey cake, which I thought was too sticky, too pungent and too spicy. My mother served it every Rosh Hashanah because it was my Aunt Belle's recipe and among the treasures of my father's family, where the women were prize-winning bakers.

Tastes change. Years later, I actually looked forward to this once-a-year goodie. So I'd like to say that honey cake is an adult, acquired taste, but that's not so. Because now I bake one every year and my young grandchildren absolutely can't get enough of it.

Until recently I always made Aunt Belle's version. But then I discovered date honey. It changed everything.

Date honey, called silan throughout the Middle East, isn't actually honey made by bees, although it is nearly as thick, sweet and viscous. It's a syrup made from dates and has a more robust flavor than bee honey. It tastes almost like liquid dried fruit, and I'm thrilled with it. I've used it on top of yogurt and ice cream, pancakes and such. I serve it with sliced apples on Rosh Hashanah. I've made baked beans using date honey instead of molasses.

Silan is one of the seven species mentioned in the Torah (Deuteronomy 8:8) and most scholars say it is date honey, not bee honey, that the Bible means when it speaks of "the land of milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8). All to say that Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time to use date honey when you bake classic holiday honey cake.

Date Honey Cake isn't as heavy as regular honey cake. Aunt Belle's recipe is citrusy and fragrant with spices, so there's a gently seasoned, refreshing quality that balances the sugar load. I usually make the cake a few weeks before the holidays, wrap it well and freeze (for up to a month). Unfortunately my local supermarkets don't stock date honey, but there are several kosher brands available online, which I buy several jars at a time.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel

1 cup date honey

1/2 cup cold, strong coffee

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, then lightly grease the paper. Set the pan aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, orange peel and lemon peel together in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the date honey, coffee and vegetable oil together and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Stir in the honey mixture and blend it in thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and blend it in thoroughly.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert on a cake rack to cool completely.

Ronnie Fein is a freelance food and lifestyle writer and  author of four cookbooks.

The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

Blueberry Honey Cake recipe

Emanuelle Lee

 (The Nosher via JTA) – Rosh Hashanah has a way of sneaking up on you, and it's a bittersweet feeling when it does. Bitter because it means the summer is over, but sweet because the Jewish New Year is a sweet and delicious time of year to spend with family and friends.

One other sweet spot of the Jewish New Year is honey cake-often baked, gifted and eaten in abundance during the holidays. The cake is quite sweet and usually spiked with autumnal spices, almost like a surrender to the season that is approaching.

In this embrace of autumn and of the year to come, we often forget to make the most of what's left of the summer produce. This honey cake recipe combines the best of both worlds: fresh blueberries, moist honey cake and a hint of spice. It's the perfect sendoff for the last remaining blueberries of the season and the welcoming of a new year.

Ingredients:

3 cups self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil

1 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon whiskey

1 tablespoon almond milk

1/4 cup coffee, cooled down

2 cups blueberries (you can use frozen if you need to)

For the topping:

1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped

1 cup confectioners sugar

juice of 2 lemons

zest of 1 orange

additional blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, spices and sugar; mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil, honey, vanilla extract, orange juice, whisky, almond milk and coffee. Combine the ingredients thoroughly with whisk or a hand mixer until smooth. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture into the well. Whisk until you have a smooth cake batter with no lumps, making sure there is no flour at the bottom of the bowl. Add the blueberries and mix well.

4. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with a little bit of vegetable or coconut oil.

5. Pour in the cake batter and allow it to settle and even out for a few minutes.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when pressed into the middle of the cake.

7. Allow the cake to cool a little and then remove from the cake pan. Allow it to cool fully.

8. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the confectioners sugar with the orange zest and the lemon juice. Mix well with a spoon until smooth with no lumps and it has reached a syrupy consistency.

9. When the cake has cooled, drizzle it with the glaze and sprinkle it with blueberries and the toasted almonds. Enjoy for up to 3 days and store it in the refrigerator, covered. Serves 8-10.

Emanuelle Lee is a recipe developer, food writer and food stylist.

The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

Sunken Plum Cake recipe

(The Nosher via JTA)-For as long as I've been cooking I've made honey cake for Rosh Hashanah. I do this just as my mother did, and my grandmother did, and likely my great-grandmother before her. I love my family's recipe, and I have even made tweaks to it over the years.

But the truth is, I like honey cake more for tradition's sake than for its flavor. Last year it finally occurred to me that I don't have to make honey cake for Rosh Hashanah.

What did I actually want to eat and serve on Rosh Hashanah?

I love sunken apple cake, but there are always so many apples eaten over the High Holidays that I wanted to make something featuring another fruit. I had just picked up a beautiful bag of plums from the market, and they called out to me. Why not make a sunken plum cake?

The flavor of plum goes so well with honey. Like an apple, the plum's tartness cuts through and complements honey's sweetness. Their bold colors always add beauty to any baked good, and I love that plums are highly seasonal. They're only at their best for a short window of time each year, which typically coincides with the Jewish New Year. For me, using plums at their peak is always celebratory.

This is a simple cake to make with lots of flavor. I add ginger to the batter for its warmth and zing, and cardamom for its subtle and welcome citrusy spiciness. The ginger and cardamom's perfume and oh-so-subtle heat also serve to exentuate the fruitiness in the plums. You can use any plum or pluot for this cake, but I like ones that are slightly firm and ripe, and not too small. This recipe can be made pareve by using vegan butter, and the flour can be swapped for a gluten-free, all-purpose mix.

Like any good holiday recipe, sunken plum cake tastes even better made a day in advance. At dinner, I love to serve the cake topped with whipped cream or ice cream, but this also makes a delicious indulgent breakfast treat on the holiday.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter or unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

11/4 cup all purpose flour or gluten free all purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter, pinch of salt if using vegan butter

4-5 plums, halved, pitted and sliced 1/4-inch thick

Turbinado/raw sugar, for sprinkling on top

1/4 cup honey for the glaze (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F

2. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, or you can also make this in a 9-by-9-inch baking dish.

3. Cream together vegan butter/butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, using either a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

4. Add the honey to the sugar mixture and mix until well incorporated.

5. Add the eggs, vanilla and freshly grated ginger, and mix until they are also well incorporated.

6. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix.

7. Pour the batter into the lined and greased cake pan. Add the sliced plums on top of the cake; they will sink as they bake. Top the cake with a generous sprinkling of Turbinado/raw sugar, or regular sugar if you don't have raw sugar.

8. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean when tested in the center of the cake.

9. If desired, you can brush honey on top of the cake once it has cooled: Heat 1/4 cup of honey until just warm, and then brush it over the cake.

10. Serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Can be made a day in advance. Serves 8-10.

Sonya Sanford is a chef, food stylist and writer based out of Los Angeles. 

The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.

 

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