Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ethnic Flavor: Aaaaples and Crisco for Rosh Hashanah

So the chagim (the many Jewish holidays that come one after the other in September and October) are finally over. Every year, it seems like they’ll never end, and then they do, and you’re like, huh, a small part of me misses them. But it’s a pretty small part.

One of the more fun parts about the chagim is the eating. Well, not on Yom Kippur. But whether you’re sitting at the dining room table or in a hut, there are plenty of festive holiday meals. This year, Rosh Hashanah was made doubly special by the fact that it fell on our dad’s birthday, and our mom requested that I make him a special holiday/birthday cake. (It was also a co-cake for our Uncle Joel, whose birthday had been the previous week.) I thought about it for a good long while and then – eureka! – remembered a tasty cake that my friend Nathan once shared with me when we came back to college after Rosh Hashanah senior year. Obviously it was a very delicious cake, to have stuck with me for the last two years. It was an apple cake, which is traditional for Rosh Hashanah. (We eat apples and honey for a sweet new year, get it?) So I e-mailed him and he kindly sent me the recipe. I knew it would be delicious but I wanted to add a little spruce to it, it being a double-birthday cake and all. Caramel glaze or frosting seemed the natural thing, but because we were having meat, I was concerned that it wouldn’t work out, as caramel is rather dependent on cream and butter. Luckily, I was able to dig up a surprisingly delicious recipe for vegan caramel frosting. It used the dreaded Crisco, for which I normally would substitute margarine, but I figured that one probably shouldn’t screw around with vegan recipes, which are already dicey at best. And then it was lucky that I had made the frosting, because we pretty much had to glue the cake back together when it came out of the pan, and it looked much nicer frosted.

The most fun part about this recipe was getting to use my dad’s apple peeler-corer-slicer, the latest in apple peeling-coring-slicing technology. It took me an embarrassingly long time and the help of my heroic father to learn how to use it, but once I did, it was so fun! I highly recommend using one if you are going to make a recipe with a lot of apples, like this one.

Me, coring/peeling/slicing apples


The cake, despite being in pieces, came out just as yummy as I had remembered it being in the fall of 2010. There were a lot of desserts at that festive holiday meal, but this cake was by far the most popular! Serve it at your next apple-related event! (Perhaps a Steve Jobs memorial service? Haw haw haw.)

Ruth Margolin's Apple Cake

5 apples (tart, like Granny Smith)
2 t cinnamon
5 T sugar

3 C flour
3 t baking powder
2 C sugar
2-½ t vanilla
1 C oil
1 t salt
4 eggs
¼ C orange juice

Peel the apples, and cut into slices.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon and the 5 T sugar, and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the remaining ingredients together until smooth.

Grease a large tube pan.  (Either use a Baker’s Joy type spray that includes flour, or grease the pan and then dust it with sugar.)

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Place half the apple mixture on top.  Pour on remaining batter, spreading to cover apples.  Top with remaining apples.  (There will be some sweetened juice in the apple bowl; you can drizzle it over the apples.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1-¼ hours.  Let stand 15 minutes and then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

You can find the frosting recipe here.

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