Pre-Rosh Hashana Confessions – Time for a Different Cake

Festive Rosh Hashana Loaf Cake

This is the time of year where we do some soul searching. Leaving aside the purely spiritual, I am looking to the kitchen now, and I have a confession to make: I really don’t like honey cake. Every year, I churn out honey cakes because that’s what we’re expected to do, and every year I promise myself – this is the last time. The fact is that I don’t know anyone who likes honey cake either. So enough of the forced bakery. Rosh Hashana is a joyful festival, so it’s time to recreate the Rosh Hashana cake.

After a little recipe research and some of my own inspiration, here’s a recipe I’ve cobbled together for a Rosh Hashana cake that I think is a fitting and symbolic end to any festive meal.  The ingredients work for this festival: I’ve used apples, which I think are a lot tastier in a cake than honey; there are dates, one of the seven species, and one of the five foods that the Gemarah points to as good edible omens for Rosh Hashana (along with gourds, fenugreek, leeks and beets); and pomegranates, which we traditionally eat on the second night of Rosh Hashana as the new fruit, and which  supposedly contain 613 seeds representing the mitzvot. There is a custom to avoid eating nuts on Rosh Hashana due to the numerical value of the Hebrew word ‘egoz’ (nut) equalling ‘chet’ (sin). If you don’t follow this custom, do add the walnuts, but the cake can be baked without them (but make it again after Rosh Hashana so you don’t miss out on this extra level of taste and texture.”

Packed full of Rosh Hashana symbolism, with enough sweetness to compensate for the honey, this moist, tasty, good looking cake is a fitting substitute for the honey cake.

Wishing you all a sweet New Year!

FESTIVE ROSH HASHANA FRUIT LOAF CAKE

Ingredients

Cake

150g butter/margarine, softened

¾ cup castor sugar plus 2 tablespoons

3 eggs

½ cup self-raising flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 apples peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

6-8 dried dates roughly chopped

½ cup roughly chopped walnuts (Don’t use an electric blender)

Ground cinnamon

Glaze

½ cup pomegranate juice (the juice of approximately 1 pomegranate). Tip: Use a simple hand juicer so you can save the pomegranate seeds as well. Wear an apron – it’s a little messy.

¼ cup of pomegranate seeds (set aside from the juicing)

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

How to do it

Cake

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (330°F)

2. Beat the butter/margarine and the 150 g sugar in mixer until pale and creamy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

4. Add the flours, baking powder and ginger, mix on a slow speed until just combined.

Unglazed loaf

Unglazed loaf – tastes good too…

5. Fold in the dates, 2 thirds of the apples and nuts.

6. Line a 25 x 12-centimetre loaf tin with baking paper and spray with non-stick spray. Pour the mixture in and arrange the leftover apple slices in a criss-cross pattern on top of the cake, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and dust with ground cinnamon.

7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the centre.

8. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and put on a plate before glazing

Glaze

1. In a small saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice and the sugar to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the mixture to reduce, stirring frequently.

2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

3. Beat in the powdered sugar until completely smooth, and add the pomegranate seeds.

4. Drizzle over the cake, allowing some of the glaze to run down the sides.

Serves 8.

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