Griff Family Recipes for a Sweet New Year

This post was adapted from a piece written by Hanna Griff-Sleven and last published in 2018.
The Museum’s former Program Director, Hanna Griff-Sleven, not only cooked up many great programs (including our signature Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival!) but is a wonderful chef, too. In this post from 2011, she shares some delicious dessert recipes that will make your holiday sweet and memorable.
Apple Cake for a Sweet New Year
This apple cake, adapted from Joan Nathan’s holiday cookbook, is a yummy one, using orange juice – my mother’s favorite flavoring for Rosh Hashanah. (She basted turkeys with it,  used it in pie crusts instead of water and made many a chicken dish with it).  This cake is easy and pareve and fills the house with the heimish smells of fall.


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 6 small Rome, Granny Smith, Yellow Delicious, or other low-moisture apples
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
  • Mix the flour, wheat germ, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
  • Peel, core, and slice the apples into eighths and place in another bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
  • In a third bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the vegetable oil and 1 3/4 cups of the sugar; beat well. Stir in the vanilla.
  • To the egg mixture; alternately add the dry ingredients and the orange juice. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Cover with half the sliced apples.
  • In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle half over the apples. Cover with the remaining batter.
  • Starting at the outside of the pan, neatly place the remaining apple slices in overlapping concentric circles. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Put some aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven in case the batter leaks. Bake the cake on the middle rack for 1 1/4 hours, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack before you carefully remove the cake from the pan.


Bessie Griff’s Hermits for a Spicy New Year

Hanna’s mom

My mother, in addition to making many apple pies for Rosh Hashanah, also made a selection of cookies for the many guests and relatives that made their way to our house.  Hermits was one of those cookies, a sort of spicy biscotti that is a New England favorite.  September holiday cooking made the house cozy and helped us ease into the back-to school mode.




Baking brings comfort and happiness to a home, whether you’re celebrating the holidays or, as Hanna mentions above, just easing into the school year. We hope you enjoy these and many other treats this fall!

Categories: Blog

Comments are closed.