I went to visit Rae Green last Sunday afternoon, after they had closed up The Sea Witch when brunch was over, and guess what I caught her doing? Cooking! I asked her hadn’t she had enough of that after an entire day of it and she said, “Rosh Hashanah begins tonight and I decided to make a honey cake.”
Turns out Rae’s father’s family were Jewish and she had some fond memories of visiting her Nana Green’s for all the Jewish Holidays. “After Nana died, Daddy didn’t keep up any of her traditions and I always missed it.”
She also made some bread called challah and told me usually it was a braided loaf, but on Rosh Hashanah it was made into a circle to represent the circle of life. It’s a Jewish tradition to dip an apple slice in honey to insure a sweet new year, because that’s what Rosh Hashanah is; the Jewish New Year.
“Nana always said a prayer in Hebrew before we ate the honey cake, and since apples were in it, we were supposed to get good luck all year if we ate some.”
Here’s the recipe if you’d like a sweet new year for yourself:
Take some Granny Smith apples, the peel and juice from one lemon, and steam them in a pan with two cups of Vermouth and three-quarter cup of sugar. Rae just sliced them down the middle, cooked them and when they were soft she let them cool while the wine/sugar mix boiled down to a syrup.
After the apples cooled, she cored and sliced them into a ten inch cake pan that she had first sprayed with baking spray and lined with parchment (or wax) paper she’d cut to fit the bottom. Then she poured the syrup over top. She said you knew when the syrup was ready when it made huge bubbles in the pan.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Then she made the cake batter:
-One and three-quarter cups of all-purpose flour
-two Tablespoons of a cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and cardamom mixture (mostly cinnamon)
-one teaspoon salt
-one-quarter cup of ground, plain, unsalted almonds
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat:
-ten Tablespoons softened butter
-two-thirds cup packed dark brown sugar
Until creamy and light, add
-one-half cup honey
And then add three large eggs at room temp, beating well after each addition. Scrape sided of bowl often to incorporate all the ingredients.
-add two teaspoons good quality Vanilla extract and beat for two minutes.
Add dry ingredients and mix for another two minutes, scraping sides of bowl. Spoon the cake batter over the apples and syrup and place in the oven. Cook for twenty minutes, turn the pan 180 degrees and cook another twenty minutes. Test doneness with a toothpick inserted in the middle, if no batter clings to it, it’s done.
Let cool for fifteen minutes, run a knife around the edges and place serving platter on top, invert and pull away pan and parchment (or wax) paper.
When she was all done and we’d had a piece of Rae said, “It’s a tough religion that makes you eat things like this.” I had to laugh.
Watch for Rae’s story in Elvy Howard’s debut novel
Coming soon (eBook and trade paperback)
from Edward Allen Publishing.
Love on a Half Shell
Three parts love, two parts grit ~
a perfect recipe to save a family.