By Tina Wasserman
I’m back, and ready to melt like the rest of you! But I can’t melt because Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and my annual party is back after four years! No COVID-19, no Temple Emanu-El TE150 dinner to plan — just the return of a tradition I love. However, you can be sure that I will heat my kitchen as little as possible to pull the meal together. The good news is that any baking I do can be done in advance and at night when temperatures have dropped to a balmy 88 degrees!
This summer I did my usual experimenting and tweaking of recipes that I thought you might like to add to your holiday celebratory meals. Here are three treats that use honey, and sometimes apples, to grace your holiday tables.
May your New Year be sweet, fruitful and free of illness and loss.
Apple Cake with Little Batter
Adapted from King Arthur Baking
Sometimes you see a recipe that is simple and different. When I see one like that, I often adapt it to the average kitchen so all bakers can create a wonderful dessert. I have tweaked this recipe but give the flour company credit for the idea. The apples are lightly surrounded by a little amount of batter, but when they bake together you wind up with a moist, delicious cake that stores well for days. If you can’t stand having an apple cake without cinnamon, then feel free to sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top before baking. Plain is great too!
- ¾ cup flour
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 apples, peeled and cored.
- ¾ stick of unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- Coarse sugar or demerara sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and then place a round of parchment paper on the greased bottom of the pan. Lightly spray the top of the parchment paper and set pan aside.
3. Place the flours, baking powder and salt into a 2-quart bowl. Stir well to combine.
4. Peel and core the apples. Cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Set aside while you prepare the batter.
5. Place the butter in a 3-quart glass bowl and microwave until melted.
6. Add the sugar, molasses, vanilla and almond extract to the melted butter. Now add the eggs and whisk the ingredients together until no butter is visible and an emulsion is formed.
7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well with a rubber spatula.
8. Add the apple slices and then gently turn the apples to lightly coat all the pieces with the batter.
9. Using the spatula, transfer all the apples and batter into the prepared pan and gently spread the top so all apples are flat.
10. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the coarse or demerara sugar, if using.
11. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
12. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. If necessary, run a knife around the edge if cake is sticking to pan. Unhinge the sides of the springform and remove.
13. Flip cake over onto a flat plate, remove the paper and then flip back onto a serving plate.
14. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- All ovens are different: Gas ovens take a little longer to bake cakes; convection ovens take less time unless the manufacturer’s default setting is to reduce the temperature automatically by 25 degrees, so let your eye and the toothpick be your guide.
- If you don’t already own a tabletop apple peeler/corer/slicer, then run out and buy one for less than $30! It will make all your holiday baking so easy and fast.
- This recipe calls for sugar and molasses because, as I was developing the recipe, I realized I didn’t have any brown sugar at home. Adding a little molasses to granulated sugar mimics the flavor and moisture of brown sugar.
- It is also suggested by King Arthur to slice this cake with a serrated knife to cleanly cut through the apple slices
Honey Cake with White Wine and Plums
Did you ever follow a recipe wrongly and, in addition, have to make substitutions for some of the ingredients but still came out with something delicious? I did and here is the result. I didn’t have my trusty springform pan with the tube insert with me but that would have been great. I did use a 9-inch cake pan that just needed a little more time for the center to cook. It sank a little, but it was still delicious and I could put a few fresh slices of plum in the center! Whatever pan you use, enjoy this recipe. Remember that a cake with spices, fruit and wine needs some time to meld its flavors so this is perfect to make a few days before yontiff.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1¼ cups safflower oil
- 1¼ cup wildflower honey
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
- 4-5 ripe red plums
- Confectioners’ sugar for garnish, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a 2-quart bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
3. In a 3-quart bowl whisk the eggs together and then add the sugar, oil, honey, wine and fresh ginger. Whisk thoroughly until no signs of oil remain and a smooth emulsion is formed.
4. Slice the plums into 8-10 slices each. Set aside.
5. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the larger bowl. Fold in the plums.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.
7. Place pan on a wire rack or your cooktop to cool for about 15-20 minutes. If your tube pan is springform then remove the sides. Turn cake over onto a serving plate. Cool. If necessary, replace some pieces of plum that might have stuck to the pan.
8. Serve with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar on top if desired.
- This cake is easiest to unmold if the bottom of the pan is flat. I have also made it in a 9-inch cake pan but it requires more baking time and, because it is a light, oil-based cake, it could sink in the middle if not baked long enough.
- When a cake contains oil, it is imperative to whisk the oil, eggs and sugar together completely so no trace of oil is visible. If you don’t form this emulsion (think mayonnaise-like) your cake will be heavy and greasy instead of moist and light.
- Depending on the season, nectarines, peaches or apples may be used instead of plums.
Tahini Cookies with Honey
Sometimes an easy addition to a groaning board of desserts is welcomed. Plus, since this recipe is gluten-free and egg-free it provides a delicious treat for your guests who have dietary challenges. Meanwhile, everyone will love it so consider doubling the recipe. Enjoy!
- 1½ cups almond flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon table salt (not kosher salt)
- 1/3 cup orange blossom or wildflower honey
- 1/3 cup tahini paste
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon baharat, to taste
- ½ cup sesame seeds, white or black
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place parchment paper on pan.
2. In a 2-quart bowl, thoroughly mix the almond flour with the baking soda and salt.
3. In a 3-quart bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together until well combined.
4. Place the sesame seeds into a small, flat-bottomed bowl.
5. Using a tablespoon-size measuring spoon, scoop up some dough and roll into a ball. Roll in the sesame seeds and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue with the remaining dough and then gently press the balls down to about 1/3-inch thickness.
6. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned on the bottom and golden on top. Cookies may appear to be soft but they firm up when cool, but don’t underbake. They should be a light golden brown.
7. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container or freezer bag at room temperature for 3-5 days.
- If you bake the cookies longer, they will just be harder.
- These cookies are not only gluten-free but they are also egg-free!