The tradition of Rosh Hashana – the apples – shines in the cake

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins on Sunday evening, and the people in my house would be pretty rude if I skipped the chest or the traditional holiday kugel. But I also like to change certain dishes, such as side dishes and desserts.

In many homes, honey cake is traditional on Rosh Hashanah, but it’s this apple cake recipe that pops up in my house, and not just on the holidays. He makes other appearances Just Because. Just because it’s fall, just because I went apple picking, just because people are coming for brunch.

Let’s look at apples for a moment. In many homes, apples are dipped in honey at the start of the Rosh Hashanah meal for a sweet year ahead. Joan Nathan, an authority on Jewish cuisine and author of 11 cookbooks, says apples have been associated with the holiday since the Middle Ages.

“Every Jewish holiday is a seasonal holiday, and used what was available,” says Nathan. “Honey was everywhere and it represented sweetness for the new year, but so did apples. Personally, I would have apples over honey cake for dessert because they are so plentiful and I like them better.”

Nathan says apples on Rosh Hashanah symbolize plenty, plenty, and hope for the new year. She bakes a “Jewish apple cake” for the holidays, using oil instead of butter, often serving it after a meal of Alsatian chicken dish with apples. (Kosher rules say you can’t mix dairy products — like butter — with chicken or meat at the same meal.)

My version of apple cake is super easy and good and tender and moist, and takes very little time to prepare. It’s made with butter, so if you’re keeping it kosher, make sure it’s served as part of a parve or dairy meal.

Note that the batter will seem a bit thin compared to more traditional cake batters. It’s intentional – it’s a delicately textured cake.

A simple blend of cinnamon and sugar gives the cake a crunchy, sweet topping spiced up with the spice that is apples’ most perfect partner in apple spice history.

For baked goods, you want a firm apple that doesn’t turn to mush when cooked. Whether it’s sour or sweet is up to you.

Sometimes the apples are grated before they’re added to the cake batter, but here they’re coarsely chopped so you get real bites of apples in every bite of cake. Make sure the pieces are no larger than about 1/3 inch or the cake won’t hold together so well.

This cake can be kept, wrapped at room temperature, for a few days.

Apple cake

For 8 people
Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

¼ cup) sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Coffee cake:

1¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of yeast

½ teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

2/3 cup whole milk

1 large apple, peeled and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch square (or round) pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon.

In another small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

In medium bowl, beat 1/3 cup sugar with butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, about twice each, beating after each addition until almost incorporated – at the end you always want to see streaks of flour and milk in the fine paste.

Stir in chopped apple until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over it.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, in squares (or wedges).

About Timothy Cheatham

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