Monday, August 19, 2013

Rosh Hashana Post #1: Apple Cake and Date Honey Cookies

Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and it's a three day holiday.  For the unitiated, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and it is three days this year because it falls on Thursday and Friday and then Saturday is Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).  One of my daughters once called it a four day holiday because the Jewish days actually start in the evening so the holiday begins on Wednesday night.  The holiday entails lots of beautiful prayers and seven festive meals! Wednesday supper, Thursday lunch, Thursday supper, Friday lunch, Friday supper, Saturday lunch and Saturday supper (aka Seudah Shlishit--the third Sabbath meal).  This is a lot of food.  We don't really do the Seudah Shlishit so much... but we are already organized.  Two meals with guests, two meals invited out and two meals on our own as a family.

People stress out over all this cooking and eating which includes all sorts of special foods which I will try to cover in my coming posts.  One of the central foods that we eat is apple dipped in honey, symbolizing our wish for a sweet new year. Many people prepare or buy honey cakes and apple cakes.  For years, I searched for the ultimate honey cake recipe and still have not found it or maybe I have just found out that I don't like honey cake so much.  I do however love my apple cake recipe which I will share with you in this post.

About honey cookies, when I first came to Israel and was on Kibbutz Ma'aleh Gilboa I was offered cookies. I turned and I saw these fat round sticky things.  I asked what they were and was told "Duvshaniot" (honey cookies).  I had never heard of them but took one bite and was addicted. I never thought of making these cookies until last year before Pesach (Passover) when I was looking for recipes to bake away all my flour which is forbidden on that holiday. I had too much Rye flour so I opened up my cookbook "The Healthy Kitchen" (in Hebrew "Hamitbach Habari shel Al Hashulchan") and found an amazing recipe for date honey duvshaniot made with rye flour which turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

Now on to the recipes!

Family Apple Cake

This recipe is an adaptation from the (out of print) cookbook, "The Pleasures of your Food Processor" by Norene Giletz.  It does contains margarine.  For the record when it comes to baking I do not usually "follow the rules" of healthy eating.  I do substitute at least half whole-wheat flour in most of my baking recipes, however.

For Illustrative Purposes Only

Ingredients for Filling:

8 or 9 apples, peeled cored and sliced into eighths ( I use my apple corer and slicer)
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 T cinnamon
2 T. flour

Ingredients for Batter

1 cup margarine 
4 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. apple juice or whiskey
2 3/4 c. flour
4 t. baking powder


Mix filling incredients and set aside

Beat margarine eggs, sugar and vanilla with mixer for two minutes. 
Add juice/whiskey and beat for a few seconds. 
Add flour and beat in until flour disappears.

Spread 1/3 of batter in a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan.  
Arrange half of the apple filing over batter.  Do not allow filling to touch sides of pan.  Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with batter.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 70 to 75 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool for 20 mins.  You can dust with icing suar when cool.

Date Honey "Duvshaniot" Made with Rye Flour

There are two types of Silan/Date honey-natural, made only from dates and one with water and sugar added.  Try to buy the natural one. In Israel, you can buy the natural one at the regular supermarkets or at health food stores.  I'm assuming that outside of Israel, that you can probably find it at kosher stores, middle eastern food stores and health food stores.  


2 c. whole rye flour
1 heaped t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup Silan/date honey 
1 egg


Heat oven to 175 C (approximately 350 F)
Mix flour, baking powder and spices
Add sugar oil, silan and egg and beat in mixer into a sticky dough
Form balls around 4 cm in diameter and place on cookie sheet lined with baking paper, flatten a bit
Bake 15-20 minutes until the cookies crack a bit but are still slightly soft.  
Cool completely and transfer to a sealed container.  
Cookies can keep up to a week.


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