More Rosh Hashanah recipes
Photo: Tina Wasserman
Apple Filled Star Challah\

By Tina Wasserman

I created this recipe when I had too much honey cake left over. It’s not too sweet and it is moist and rich. If you choose not to make the butterscotch sauce, which is worth the time and can be made in advance, serve with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. YUM!

Apples and Honey Cake Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1 loaf honey cake (approximately 9×5) — store-bought or homemade
  • 2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 Jonagold, Fuji or Gala apples
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 cups milk (whole or 2% preferred)

1. Butter a 13×9-inch glass pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut the honey cake into ¾-inch cubes. Place in a 4-quart bowl and set aside. 

3. Peel, core and slice the apples into eighths. Cut each eighth crosswise into 3 or 4 chunks.

4. Heat a 10-inch skillet for 15 seconds. Add the butter and melt. Sauté the apples in the butter over medium-high heat until the apples give up some of their juice. 

5. Add the sugar and cinnamon to the apples and continue sautéing until the sugar is dissolved and the apples begin to brown and get softer. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.

6. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Pour in the cream and milk, and whisk to combine.

7. Place half of the honey cake cubes in the prepared pan. Cover with the reserved apples and then with the remaining honey cake cubes. 

8. Pour the egg/milk mixture through a sieve directly over the entire surface of the honey cake. Lightly press down on the cake to make sure it is covered with the custard.

9. Place the pan in a larger pan and pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of 1 inch.

10. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a sharp, thin knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out wet, but clear. Serve warm with optional sauce on the side.

Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar (see note*)
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 ounces (half stick) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons Scotch or dark rum (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, syrup and butter. Stir only until butter is melted and mixture comes to a full boil. Adjust the heat to medium high and boil WITHOUT STIRRING for 1 minute. Remove mixture from heat.

2. Combine the milk with the vanilla and add to the pan. Stir only to combine. Add rum, if using, and then pour into glass jar. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. May be warmed in the microwave or served cold.

*Note: Light brown sugar is standard for butterscotch flavor but dark brown sugar may be used for a stronger molasses flavor if desired.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• Honey absorbs moisture in a baked dish so a larger amount of liquid is necessary to make the cake swell and be soft.

• Bread puddings are best made with dry, dense bread so that they will absorb the liquid and expand when baking. If your grandmother’s recipe comes out dense and dry, this is a perfect use for it that will still keep your memories alive.

• This recipe can be made lactose free for all the afflicted Ashkenazi relatives now that all these dairy products can be found without lactose.  

Koliva (Sweetened Wheat Berry Pudding)

This Greek pudding is called by many names in the Middle East. Sephardim serve this for Rosh Hashanah and Tu B’Shevat. The addition of pomegranate seeds and dates makes it appropriate for the New Year. 

  • 1 cup whole soft spring wheat berries or Israeli couscous
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup wildflower honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup almonds, walnuts, pistachio nuts or a mixture
  • 1 cup raisins or mixed dried fruit bits
  • 4 Medjool dates, cut in half lengthwise and pitted (for garnish)
  • Pomegranate seeds (for garnish)

1. Place wheat berries in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak the berries for 2 hours or until they are slightly softened. Drain the water. Place in a 3-quart saucepan. 

2. Add the 4 cups of water to the pan and bring the water to a boil. Simmer for 45–60 minutes, or until the wheat berries are tender but firm. Drain.

3. Add the sugar, honey, salt and cinnamon to the pot and cook over moderate heat until the honey and sugar are completely melted and thoroughly coating the wheat berries.

4. Toast the nuts in a 350-degree oven for 5 minut,es. Set aside.

5. Add the nuts and the dried fruit to the mixture, and spoon into a serving bowl.

6. Garnish with the sliced dates and pomegranate seeds, if desired. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Tina’s Tidbits:

•   Never cook beans or grains with salt as the salt will toughen the food and it will require a longer cooking time or might not ever soften.

• For those who have pressure cookers or instant pots, the wheat berries can be cooked in under 20 minutes if you prefer.

• If you don’t have a great deal of time, then try making this dish with Israeli couscous. However, cook the sugar and honey until dissolved before you add the couscous or the mixture will be one gloppy mess.

Apple Filled Star Challah

One day I was perusing the internet and saw a coffee cake cut into 16 slices to create a swirl of color in the cake after baking. It dawned on me that I could make an apple filling and cut the raw cake into 12 wedges which would create a Star of David in the center. A new, delicious challah was born! Don’t be intimidated by the length of this recipe. Each component can be made in advance and the finished bread freezes well if tightly wrapped with plastic wrap AND foil.

Bread Dough:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 6 cups white bread flour (or omit whole wheat and add 2 more cups bread flour)
  • 2 packages rapid rise yeast
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup corn, canola or avocado oil OR 2 sticks of unsalted butter (if not serving with meat)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups unfiltered apple juice or apple cider
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil for greasing bowl 
  • 1 recipe for apple filling (see below)
  • Egg Wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Apple Filling:

  • 4 large Honeycrisp or Fuji apples, about 2½ pounds
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup or more wildflower or clover honey, as needed

1. In a large mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of the whole-wheat flour with 5 cups of the bread flour, the yeast, cinnamon and salt. Turn machine on to low (#1) for 10 seconds to combine. 

2. Measure 1 cup of the oil in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.

3. Lightly beat eggs and vanilla with a fork in a 1-quart bowl until combined. Set aside.

4. Measure the apple juice or cider in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add the sugar and stir once or twice. Microwave juice/sugar mixture on high for 1 minute 20 seconds, or a little longer if microwave oven is not so powerful. Mixture should register 115–120 degrees.

5. Turn mixer on to low (#1). Immediately add the hot juice/sugar mixture straight from the microwave, and then add the eggs and then the oil — in that order. 

6. Turn mixer to medium (#2) and continue mixing with dough hook for 6 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary to incorporate all the flour before adding any additional flour. If dough is too sticky, add as much as 1 cup more flour until a floured finger poked into the dough comes out clean.

7. Grease a 4-quart bowl with the extra tablespoon of oil. Add the dough to the bowl, turning the dough over to coat it on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour (I like to use an out-of-the-way corner in my kitchen or a warming drawer set on low). Dough can also be put in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

8. Apple Filling: While dough is rising, if you haven’t already done so, make the apple filling.

9. Peel, core and cut apples into ¼-inch dice.

10. Heat a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat for 10 seconds and then add the diced apples and brown sugar. Stir the apple mixture until the apples begin to give up their juices (about 3-4 minutes). Turn down heat if apples look like they are browning.

11. Add the spices to the apples and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender but not mushy and some of the liquid has evaporated (about another 4 minutes).

12. Stir the cornstarch and water together to dissolve and then add to the apples, stirring constantly as you do so. Mixture will be shiny and no liquid will be visible.

13. Turn off the heat and add the coconut oil or butter. Stir to combine and then set aside to cool while dough is rising, or cover and refrigerate until needed (up to two days).

To Assemble Bread:

1. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces (or 8 if you want to make 2 smaller rounds about 8 inches in diameter). Divide apple mixture in half ONLY if you are making 2 smaller loaves.

2. Roll the first piece of dough into a 12-inch circle (8-inch for smaller loaf) on a floured board. Brush a thin layer of honey over the dough and then ⅓ of the apple mixture over that.

3. Continue the previous steps with the remaining pieces of dough, ending with the fourth circle of dough. Gently pull the top layer over and pinch all the layers together.

4. Place a 3-inch glass bowl or cup face down in the center of the bread and lightly trace around it with a knife to mark a circle. Remove the glass. Make 12 cuts from the line of the circle to the end of the dough (I find it easiest to imagine a clock making my first cuts at 12, 6, 3 and 9 and then filling in the other cuts evenly). Make sure you cut through all layers of the dough. 

5. Working in pairs around the dough (clock!), take a wedge of dough in each hand and twist them over once away from each other. Pinch the middle bottom of the pair together. Repeat with the remaining 5 pairs and then pinch the ends of each dough pair together to form a circle that has the design of a Jewish star in the middle and little stripes of spiced apple peeking through.

6. Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes. 

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and place the cookie sheet in the lower third of your oven.

8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of the round and the heat of your oven. When the bread is done, it will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped. You can also insert an instant-read thermometer into the center and if it registers around 195-205 degrees it is done.

9. Always allow the bread to cool for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• If you are curious, but fear making this challah, go to to see my video that shows every step to make the dough, filling and shaping.

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