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Rosh Hashanah: Here’s to a Sweet New Year

Rosh Hashanah: Here’s to a Sweet New Year

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There are multiple symbolic foods for this Jewish holiday, but what do they mean?

With only a week left of summer, it’s time to shift our focus to other topics. For some, that looking toward the upcoming religious holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

During every holiday, traditions vary from family to family, but there are common threads that tie them all together. For example, Rosh Hashanah meals traditionally include of apples dipped in honey to signify the start of a sweet new year.

Though dipping apples in honey is one of the Jewish New Year's most prominent food traditions, it doesn’t stop there:

• The head of a fish symbolizes a desire to "be the head and not the tail" in the upcoming year

• Dates, black-eyed peas, leeks, spinach, and gourd are commonly eaten during the Rosh Hashanah meal as well, as they are all mentioned in the Talmud

• Other dishes include rodanchas (pumpkin-filed pastries), leek fritters known as keftes de prasa, beets, and stuffed vegetables.

• Round challah bread is served in accordance with the concept of the cycle of the year

While these traditions are solidified in Jewish tradition, we scoured Pinterest to see if there were fresh spins on old customs, and we found a few:

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Recipe Summary

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter or nondairy margarine, plus more for bowl, pan, and plastic
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for surface
  • 3/4 cup warm water (100 degrees)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 tart green apples, preferably Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 3/4 cups)

Butter a large bowl, and melt 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat let cool. Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, the flour, water, 1/3 cup honey, the eggs and yolks, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Mix until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to buttered bowl, and brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until dough almost doubles in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat into an 8 1/2-by-14-inch rectangle. Top with apples knead to incorporate. Return to bowl. Brush with remaining tablespoon melted butter cover. Let rise again in a warm place until dough almost doubles in volume, about 1 hour more.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Roll dough into a rope (about 24 inches) on a floured surface. Coil into a circle, and transfer to pan. Butter plastic wrap, and cover dough. Let rise again until dough almost doubles in volume, about 45 minutes more.

Heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts. Brush dough with half the honey-butter. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 35 minutes.

Brush challah with the remaining honey-butter. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Turn out loaf from pan, and let cool.

Since there’s no butter in the recipe, only oil, basically you could mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. But since this cake can be quite heavy, I start by whisking the eggs with the sugar and honey, which helps to make the cake a bit lighter in texture. Then slowly add oil and vanilla extract. Then alternate the dry ingredients with the coffee/tea until all is blended together. Easy!

The signature honey gives the cake sweetness and a delicious flavor, but it’s also packed with other flavorful ingredients such as coffee/tea, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom so it’s wonderfully scented. I suggest not skipping the cloves as they go perfectly with the honey and help to enhance the flavor, unless you don’t like cloves at all.

The edges of this cake are crisp and sticky, and the interior is moist and sweet. The honey helps to keep this cake moist for several days. The cake tastes better a day after it’s made, when the flavors have had time to mellow.

To take this cake a step further, you can fold some apple cubes (peel and core an apple, then cut into cubes) into the batter, especially if you make it for the holiday, as apple cakes are also popular in Rosh Hashanah.

A Sweet New Year: Rosh HaShanah Treats

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, means it’s time to break out the apples and the honey! It is customary to enjoy traditional, symbolic foods to ring in a sweet, joyous, and prosperous new year during the two-day holiday!

Apples dipped in honey are standard Rosh Hashanah fare for symbolizing a sweet new year. We’re loving local Nagafu Fiji apples from Cuyama Orchards.

Our local, unfiltered, and unprocessed raw honey is drawn from Southern California’s abundant flora. Cold packed by hand, our raw honey has a creamy texture perfect for apple-dipping, cake baking, and all-round tasting! Kosher certified honey is available in our International section.

For blessings as numerous as the seeds in a pomegranate, we’re all about this autumn Roasted Squash, Pecan, & Pomegranate Salad by the Minimalist Baker.

Dates are one of the sacred foods enjoyed on Rosh Hashanah, and we understand why! Sticky sweet with a dusky, earthy flavor, dates are naturally delicious. For even more of the sweet stuff, try one of these tasty recipes from Coachella Valley’s own Joolies dates, kissed with their extraordinary date syrup.

Honey Cake
This extra moist, lightly spiced cake is a classic Rosh Hashanah staple. Every family has their secret ingredient (tell us yours in the comments below). We’re drooling over this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker!

L’Shanah Tovah! Wishing you a sweet new year!

Feeling inspired? Tag us @bristolfarms – we can’t wait to see your creations

18 Rosh Hashanah Desserts for a Very, Very Sweet New Year

We add cinnamon-sugar to challah, drop raisins onto kugel, dredge apple slices in honey, and pile sweet potato into tzimmes. We sprinkle pomegranate seeds…everywhere. We eschew the quotidian “happy new year” in favor of “have a good and sweet new year.”

And yet, somehow…we’re not satisfied.

The New Year still isn’t sweet enough.

Enter: actual dessert. Surprisingly, for a holiday that prides itself on all that sweetness, dessert has never actually been the most memorable part of the Rosh Hashanah meal—at least for my family. It was my grandmother’s brisket recipe, prepared by my mom and peppered with glazed carrots, that always stole the show.

But I’m hoping this list might change that. Below, I’ve compiled 18 not-so-traditional Rosh Hashanah desserts that run the gamut from cake to cobblers and everything in between. Some of these are, in fact, authentic and unique to the holiday. Others just riff on one of the star ingredients of the Jewish New Year (apples, honey, more apples). But they’re all bound to be show-stopping levels of deliciousness, so you really can’t go wrong.

It has been revered since Biblical times as a symbol of fertility, good health and immortality. Celebrated by King Solomon in the Song of Songs, this tangy, many-seeded fruit with its crimson-hued, leathery shell was abundant in the Garden of Eden and is even thought by some scholars to have been the real “apple” that tempted Eve.

For the Jewish people, the pomegranate has special significance on Rosh Hashanah as one of the special foods that serve as auspicious omens for the year to come. “The pomegranate is a powerful visual and sensory omen that we eat during the holiday time to remind us of the way we’re supposed to act,” said Laura Frankel, author of “Jewish Cooking for All Seasons” (Wiley, $34.95) a joyful, accessible celebration of Jewish cooking throughout the year.

“The seeds of the pomegranate supposedly add up to 613, if you took the time to count,” she said, “which represent the mitzvot of the Torah that you’re supposed to do. Well, the story is 613. Who knows!”

For many people, pomegranates, plentiful as fall begins, also serve as the new fruit of the season, which we traditionally eat on Rosh Hashanah. But for Frankel, chef/co-owner of the highly acclaimed Chicago restaurant Shallots, pomegranates are her “secret weapon,” and she uses the fruit and molasses year round.

“Here at the restaurant we make martinis out of pomegranates,” she noted. “They are so plentiful, tasty and fun. If you get a good one, it has the most perfect flavor of tartness and sweetness on your tongue. Pomegranate molasses corrects any kind of issues I’m having with a sauce. If it’s too spicy or tart, it will fill in the cracks. It gives fish, chicken or meat that glazy finish and looks beautiful and shiny. Now if they only had pomegranate lipstick!”

Another omen for Rosh Hashanah is the apple, which we dip in honey as we ask God for a sweet year. “It’s not just a childhood simple thing,” Frankel explained. “You’re supposed to take the sweetness into your mouth, your mind, your lips and then act that way as well.” Frankel offers a duo of baked apples for the holiday, one sweet with honey, dates and apricots, the other savory with shallots and herbs, what she calls the “perfect side dish.”

“The savory apples have just the right amount of sweetness and are great with poultry,” she noted.

The book is divided by season, and Frankel’s passion for fresh, locally grown, organic produce is infectious. “Each ingredient that goes into the pot should be delicious unto itself,” she writes.

Autumn is her favorite time of year to cook. “There’s still hanging over a little bit of summer, but fall is far more interesting to me. In summer you don’t have to do much. You cut it, put it on a plate, add olive oil and voilà. In fall and winter you have to coax the flavor from the vegetables,” like hard-shelled squash, beets and celery root. “These really big root vegetables you roast slowly until they’re caramelized. Turnips start out stinking and weird and suddenly they’re sweet and gorgeous.”

What makes “Jewish Cooking for All Seasons” a kosher cookbook is its adherence to the laws of kashruth, but you won’t find any substitute ingredients or faux anything here.

“We’ve become out of touch. Our produce is shipped from Bolivia to your table. We don’t know where it comes from,” she said. “But Kashruth is all about being in touch with food, nature and spirituality. You don’t mix meat and milk because it is cruel to boil a kid in its own milk. Our religion specifically goes at food and tells you what to eat, even sometimes where to eat it. The table is supposed to remind us of the altar in the Temple.”

For the holiday table Frankel honors our long-held traditions while updating them with flavor and flair. “You don’t always have to be pulling out the green bean casseroles with nondairy creamer for the holidays,” she advised. “If your family loves matzoh balls and brisket for Rosh Hashanah, there are lots of ways to do it. I don’t know why Jews think of brisket as Jewish food anyway. In Texas they barbecue it. But we’re going to have brisket for Rosh Hashanah with the savory apples. On another night I might serve the pomegranate chicken with matzoh balls. There are a lot of ways to put out a great holiday meal.”

Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family” (Workman)

CHOCOLATE HONEY CAKE for a Sweet New Year: Rosh Hashana

Here's a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Honey Cake to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Honey is a traditional food that symbolizes a Sweet New Year. Add Chocolate, and the year is bound to be even sweeter! Heaven knows, we need it!

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Honey Cake aka Honey Bee Cake. She decorates her Chocolate Honey Cake with the most adorable marzipan bees, but I never get quite that involved.

FYI: Honey cake doesn't have to be dry and heavy. This cake is incredibly moist! As I've mentioned many times, though, your final product will be different depending on the type and brand of chocolate and the type of honey you use.

4 ounces dark chocolate (50-65% cacao), chopped
1 1/3 cups soft light brown sugar
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup local honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp DARK cocoa
1 cup boiling water

Sticky Honey Glaze:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
6 ounces dark chocolate (60-75% cacao), finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioners sugar

Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Melt chocolate from cake part of ingredients list in large bowl, either in microwave or bowl over pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 9-inch springform pan.
Beat together sugar and softened butter until airy and creamy, and then add honey.
Add 1 of eggs, beating in with tablespoon of flour, and then second egg with another tablespoon of flour.
Fold in melted chocolate, and then remaining flour and baking soda.
Add cocoa pushed through tea strainer to ensure no lumps, and last of all, beat in the boiling water.
Mix everything together well to make smooth batter and pour into prepared springform pan.
Bake for up to 1 -1/2 hours, checking cake after 45 minutes. If it's getting too dark, cover top lightly with aluminum foil and keep checking every 15 minutes.
Let cake cool completely in pan on rack.

To make glaze, bring water and honey to boil in pot, then turn off the heat and add finely chopped chocolate, swirling around to melt in hot liquid.
Leave for few minutes, then whisk together.
Add sugar through sieve and whisk again until smooth.

Putting it together:
Choose plate or stand, and cut 4 strips of parchment paper and form square outline on plate. Reason: So when you put cake on it and ice it, icing won't run all over the plate (you can always cut the excess off later).
Unclip springform pan and set thoroughly cooled cake on prepared plate.

Pour glaze over cold chocolate honey cake. It might dribble a bit down the edges, but don't worry too much about it. Glaze stays tacky for some time (which is what gives it its melting goeyness) so ice in time for glaze to harden a little, at least an hour before you want to serve it.

Nigella Lawson decorates this great cake with marzipan bees. For the recipe for them, and for her exact recipe, go HERE.

Rosh Hashanah Desserts

The classic choice is a honey cake or an apple cake. Figs and pomegranates are also stars at this holiday. But since I am all about learning the tradition and then riffing from it, I developed a pear cake recipe.

    with olive oil, ginger and cinnamon
  • Or just slice up some figs and drizzle a bit of honey on them and call it dessert – no one will complain!

And think about short cuts – poached or baked apples would be an easy make ahead option. Sprinkle them with some pomegranate seeds and they’ll be gorgeous! Or throw together an apple strudel by using puff pastry – a quick and easy way to prepare a hot-out-of-the-oven dessert without much advanced preparation.

I hope these ideas turn your rush into Rosh Hashanah into a calmer, peaceful, sweet start to the new year. What’s your best tip for preparing for a family gathering on short notice?

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10 New Fruits to Try for a Sweet New Year

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On the second day Rosh Hashanah, there is a fairly common tradition to enjoy a new fruit and make the shehechiyanu blessing over it. While many families take this opportunity to enjoy pomegranates or pineapple, this can be a great time to also stretch your culinary repertoire and scout out something entirely new: perhaps far away and exotic, or grown close to home but new to your tastebuds.

We love it when Judaism encourages food exploration, and so here&rsquos a few suggestions of exotic fruits to add to your sweet New Year celebration this year! Do you have a favorite?

Passionfruit (Granadilla)
This delicious fruit is native to Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, and it&rsquos enjoyed worldwide for its tart and tangy flavor. Cut it in half and eat the pulpy juice and seeds with a spoon.

This Southeast Asian fruit is named after &ldquomessy hair,&rdquo and it&rsquos easy to see why! The spines are soft, though, and pose no threat. Cut halfway around the fruit and open it up with your fingers. The fruit pops out easily, but you&rsquoll have to eat around the pit in the middle. Dip in a traditional mix of chili powder and sugar for a sweet kick! Find them fresh or canned in specialty supermarkets.

Lychees are related to rambutan, and you can eat them the same way. You&rsquoll likely find fresh and canned lychees in Chinatown or an Asian food market.

Horned Melon
Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, this blowfish-looking fruit is related to cucumbers and melons. It&rsquos flavor is described as tart like lemons and sweet like bananas, with seeds like cucumbers. Scoop out its jelly-like flesh with a spoon and enjoy! If you find small ones, you may be able to cut them in half and sip from them.

Dragonfruit (pitaya) is a cactus fruit, native to Mexico. Its taste and texture is similar to kiwi&ndashyou eat the fruit and seeds together. Slice it in half and eat with a spoon, or cut it into slices and peel away the skin.

This geometrically striking fruit is native to Southeast Asia. You can eat the entire fruit, skin, seeds and all. Slice into stars for ultimate cuteness.

Ugli Fruit
This lumpy-looking citrus fruit is a hybrid of a grapefruit, a tangerine and an orange, and it tastes sweet and slightly bitter, exactly how you&rsquod imagine. It was discovered growing wild in Jamaica. Cut into slices, or peel the rind and enjoy.

Local New Fruits
If you&rsquore in the Northern Hemisphere and prefer to keep it local, you can celebrate the new year with locally-grown &ldquonew fruits&rdquo whose season is emerging. Visit the farmer&rsquos market and pick up some berries, grapes or plums that have just been picked. Here are some &ldquonew fruits&rdquo that we&rsquore seeing here in New York.

Concord Grapes
These famous grapes were first cultivated in the mid-19th century in Concord, Massachusetts. Their ancestors were wild grapes of the Northeast. If you don&rsquot mind the hard seeds in the middle, you&rsquore sure to fall in love with this sweet and sour treat.

Husk Cherries
You&rsquoll have to show up at your market early for these&ndashthey go fast! They&rsquore related to gooseberries and tomatillos, hence their paper lantern-like husks. The berries inside taste like mild, tropical tomatoes.

Plums are everywhere this time of year in dozens of varieties and colors. We love the Damson plums (above).