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Apple cakes for Rosh Hashanah


This year, Rosh Hashanah falls right at the beginning of October, meaning that the apples we choose at the grocery store will most likely come from the new harvest, not ones that have been in cold storage since before the summer. What a bounty of good luck!

What kind of apples you choose for your desserts will generally depend on what kind of dessert you’re planning to make. For the Apple Crumb Cake, it’s best to choose a tart, firm apple that will contrast nicely with the sweetness of the crumb topping. However, if you’ve chosen to bake the Almost Not A Cake Apple Cake, feel free to mix and match the apples since they’re the main flavouring in the cake and complexity is called for here. Finally, if turnovers are on the menu, select apples that will hold their shape, such as Spy, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith. Have a sweet and delicious new year!!

Apple pie turnovers

These are like having your own individual pie. Make sure that you use an apple such as a Spy or Golden Delicious so that the apples hold their shape. As a bonus, these turnovers can be frozen for up to three months. Simply defrost in the refrigerator before baking. They really are sublime, straight from the oven.


o 3 cups all-purpose flour

o 1/4 cup granulated sugar

o 3/4 tsp. salt

o 1 cup cold hard margarine or unsalted butter, cubed

o 1/2 cup ice water (approx.)


o 2 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-in. chunks

o 1/4 cup raisins

o 3 tbsp. packed light brown sugar

o 1 tbsp. honey

o 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

o pinch cinnamon

o 1 egg, lightly beaten

o 2 tbsp. coarse sugar

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal “S” blade or in a large bowl, pulse or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt until well mixed and aerated. Add the margarine or butter to the food processor or the bowl. Pulse in food processor or cut with a pastry cutter or two knives until the flour resembles coarse meal with the butter the size of peas with a few larger pieces. Drizzle the water over the flour mixture and pulse or toss briefly. If the mixture looks too dry and is not starting to get thoroughly moistened, add 1 more tablespoon of water. Pulse or toss again briefly until the mixture is thoroughly moistened and is shaggy or clumpy but has not yet formed a ball. Dump the entire mixture onto a lightly floured work surface. Using the palm of your hand, smear together the dough along the work surface, until it comes together in a cohesive whole or ball. Divide the dough in half and press each into a disc. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or for up to 2 days.

In a large bowl, gently toss together the apples, raisins, sugar, honey, lemon juice and cinnamon; set aside.

Roll 1 disc of pastry very thinly, to about 1/8-in. thickness. With a cookie cutter or the bottom of a bowl, cut out five or six 5-inch circles. Repeat with remaining disc.

Gently knead together any remaining scraps; roll out and cut out a few more 5-inch rounds. You should have about 14 or 15 circles in total. Place a heaping tbsp. of the apple mixture in the centre of each circle. Brush the bottom edge of the circle with the beaten egg. Fold the upper half over the filling to form a crescent. Repeat with all of the circles. Transfer the circles to two parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 12 hours .

Preheat the oven to 400. Brush the surface of the crescents with the beaten egg. With a sharp knife, make three vertical cuts in the top of each crescent. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven until the crescents are puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let the crescents cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining baking sheet of crescents. Makes 14-15 individual pies.

Apple crumb cake

Lore has it that crumb cake came about through German bakers in the New York area who were attempting to Americanize the kuchen they had so enjoyed at home. It’s usually a tender, whitish or golden hued cake, not too high, topped with a disproportionate amount of crumb topping – so much so that there’s really more crumb than cake. For Rosh Hashanah, I’ve added diced apple to the batter, but otherwise kept the proportions true to the original. This is a wonderfully light and moist cake, perfect to serve at a Rosh Hashanah luncheon since it can serve a crowd and be served with a dairy menu.

Crumb Topping:

o 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

o 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar

o 2 tsp. cinnamon

o 8 oz. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


o 2 cups all-purpose flour

o 1 tbsp. baking powder

o pinch salt

o 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

o 1/2 cup granulated sugar

o 1 large egg, at room temperature

o 1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature

o 2/3 cup 2 per cent milk, at room temperature

o 2 tsp. vanilla

o 1 cup diced peeled apple

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour a 13×9-in. glass baking dish.

Crumb Topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour the melted butter into the flour mixture, stirring with a fork, until the mixture is thoroughly moistened. Set aside.

Cake: In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, or using a hand held mixer, beat the butter with the sugar for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the sour cream.

Add the vanilla to the milk.

With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, making three additions of flour and two of milk, remembering to scrape the sides of the bowl often. The batter will be quite thick. Fold in the apples.

Spread the batter into the prepared dish. It will not seem as though there is enough batter but trust me, it will be fine. Using your hands, gently toss the crumb mixture until very small balls appear. Scatter the topping evenly over the cake batter.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.

Dust with icing sugar before serving, warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Almost not an apple cake

Please excuse the title of this recipe but it most accurately describes this cake – a whole lot of apple with barely enough batter to hold it together. It’s wonderfully delicious and wonderfully easy. All you need is a bowl, a whisk and some elbow action.

o 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

o 3/4 tsp. baking powder

o pinch salt

o 4 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-in. chunks

o 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

o pinch ground nutmeg

o 2 large eggs, at room temperature

o 3/4 cup granulated sugar

o 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

o 1 tsp. vanilla

o 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8-in. springform pan well and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, gently toss together the apples, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a third bowl, whisk the eggs until they’re just starting to turn foamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar; whisk until completely combined, 1 minute. Whisk in the orange juice and vanilla. Gently whisk in half of the flour mixture. Whisk in half of the oil. Whisk in the remaining flour and then the remaining oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Fold in the apples. Scrape the mixture evenly into the prepared springform.

Bake the cake in the centre of the preheated oven until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake before removing the sides of the springform to ensure that there are no apples sticking to the sides, which will rip the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.