Recipe for a Sweet New Year

Rosh Hashanah is a time for prayer, reflection and getting together with family members and eating. One of the many food customs for the holiday is eating round foods (representing the circle of life), apples (celebrating the food of the season) and honey (ensuring a sweet new year).

About two weeks ago I was working at the Museum when Debbie Sofer, one of our docents, who shares my love of cooking, called out to me. She was starting to prepare her Rosh Hashanah menu and was looking for an apple dessert. She showed me a recipe for “Mrs. Davis’ Apple Cake” in the The New York Times Jewish Cookbook, edited by Linda Amster, that we had in our bookstore. As Debbie started to describe the recipe to me, another docent, Henry Zimring, who had just finished giving a tour, piped in and said “Oh yes, the apple cake with the cookie dough crust. My mother made that all the time.” We laughed and as I looked at the recipe, I thought it sounded yummy. I grew up in a pie family but this looked like it might satisfy them as well. Debbie and I went on to have a lengthy discussion about how we like our apples cooked. I love the apples cooked and mushy, she likes them a bit crunchy still.

We were having a docent meeting at the Museum the next week and I decided to make the cake (good excuse for a try out). I made, it, eliminating the raisins and using margarine to make it pareve. It was a hit! Docents Roberta Koza and Rochelle Goldstein told me their mothers made this cake as well! And everyone seemed to love it. I thought it was terrific and when I make it again I think I will add cinnamon and sugar on the top. It will certainly sweeten the New Year for you and your loved ones. Shana Tova.

Mrs. Davis’ Apple Cake
Adapted by Andrea Abel from The New York Times Jewish Cookbook, edited by Linda Amster

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
Dash of salt
1/2 cup soft butter
1 egg

5 tart apples
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup raisins (or substitute dried cherries or craisins)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add butter and egg. Alternately, the dough can be mixed in a food processor until it forms into a ball. Knead until dough is firm and shapes easily into a ball. Wrap in wax paper; refrigerate 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel apples and cut into small pieces. Add sugar, lemon juice, raisins and cinnamon and let mixture steep until dough is ready. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter or use Baker’s Joy to grease a 9-inch springform pan. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll out one-third of dough and line bottom of form. I found the dough to be a bit brittle, so I rolled it out partway and then patted it into place. Roll out another one-third of dough into a strip and line sides of the pan about 2 1/2 inches high, pressing along bottom rim to seal bottom and sides.

Drain fruit mixture and pour into pastry-lined pan. Dot the top of fruit with dabs of butter. Roll out remaining dough and use a pastry cutter to make long strips. Place strips crisscross on top of filling. Bake until cake is golden brown and fruit is crisp/tender, 45-55 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

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