Home Food Classic holiday desserts for a sweet new year

Classic holiday desserts for a sweet new year


Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tova! The High Holidays are just days away and if you haven’t done your baking yet, here are some delicious recipes that are perfect for Rosh Hashanah or any of the High Holidays.

Second Helpings, Please! is the resource for two cake recipes that are Rosh Hashanah classics.

Second Helpings has been a culinary resource for holiday and family celebrations for more than 50 years. But where did the contributors to Second Helpings get their recipes?

Food maven and cookbook author, Norene Gilletz was the defacto editor of Second Helpings, which was originally published in Montreal by B’nai Brith Canada in 1968.

Gilletz said many of the recipes she contributed to the book actually came from her mother, Belle Rykiss, who was an “amazing baker.” The Honey Chiffon and Dutch Apple cakes are both Rykiss’s recipes. “These were the cakes she served on Rosh Hashanah”, Gilletz said.

Given the popularity of Second Helpings – some 150,000 copies were sold worldwide there’s a good chance that Rykiss’s holiday cakes have become part of the Rosh Hashanah culinary tradition in thousands of homes across the country.



375 ml (1½ cups) sugar, divided

3 eggs

250 ml (1 cup) oil

60 ml (¼ cup) water or orange juice

875 ml (3½ cups) of all purpose flour

10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder

1½ kilo (3 lbs) apples, pared and sliced

125 ml (½ cup) of white or brown sugar

10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon


Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 33 x 23-cm (9 x 13-inch) pan

Sprinkle the apples with 75 ml (¼ cup) sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Combine 250 ml (1 cup) sugar, eggs, oil, and liquid and beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the dry ingredients slowly, kneading in the flour to make a soft dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 33 x23-cm (9 x 13-inch) rectangle.

Place the first rectangle into the prepared pan. Top the dough with the prepared apples. Cover the apples with the second rectangular dough and sprinkle the top with remaining sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the top is light brown.



4 eggs

250 ml (1 cup) sugar

250 ml (1 cup) oil

454 g (1 lb) liquid honey

750 ml (3 cups) flour

15 ml (3 tsp) baking powder

3 ml (½ tsp) baking soda

250 ml (1 cup) cold coffee or tea

125 ml (½ cup) nuts, optional

125 ml (½ cup) raisins, optional

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)


In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the oil and honey and blend well. Add 1 cup of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, incorporate well, and then add 1/3 cup of the coffee or tea. Mix well. Continue to alternate between the dry ingredients and liquid, mixing between each addition.

Pour the batter into an ungreased 25 cm (10-inch) tube pan. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150°C (300°F) and bake 1 hour at the reduced heat.

When the cake is done, invert it and let it cool completely before removing it from the pan.


Holiday Recipes for Vegans

Frances Enchin, a former MNJCC culture manager, oversees a bicycle business (Curbside Cycle) in the Annex. She is is semi-retired and she enjoys trying out new recipes.

Enchin usually invites guests for Shabbat dinner. Not only does she prepare a festive meal, but she also bakes at least two challahs a week.

These days she often makes a vegan challah, she said. “With any group, there’s usually someone who’s a vegan or who has a dietary thing.”

Enchin has also provided her recipe for Vegan Spanakopita. She said, “It’s a recipe hack” inspired by a Spanakopita recipe in Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook, circa 1974.

Enchin combined elements of this recipe with a vegan one she found on the Internet at the site, Connoisseursus Veg.

She uses a vegan recipe for a cashew-based cheese, which she found at Connoisseurus Veg.com.

Enchin has been making challah for decades. “I studied religion in university. One of my professors said, ‘Anyone who studies theology should learn to make bread. It’s a good meditative act.’

“Making challah is an important way for me to prepare for Shabbat spiritually as well practically.”

When she started making challah, finding a good recipe turned out to be a challenge, Enchin recalled. “I tried all sorts of different things. Then my sister-in-law (Brenda Enchin) said, ‘Why don’t you use Norene Gilletz’s recipe?’ I tried it. It was simple and that became the basic one.”

Enchin’s recipe is from the 1979, coil-bound, Pleasures of Your Processor. Whitecap republished Gilletz’s book with additional recipes as The Food Processor Bible in 2002 and a later edition, The New Food Processor Bible in 2011.

Frances Enchin gets ready to bake her vegan challah. For Rosh Hashanah she will be baking round challahs. (Barbara Silverstein photo)

After Enchin had been making challah for a few years, she said she realized that some people could not eat her challah because they were vegan. “I started experimenting with different recipes. I was looking on the Internet for vegan challah recipes.”

“I tried a few and I decided to go back to the old recipe from Norene Gilletz. I just didn’t use eggs and it worked out fine.”

She said she adds additional water if the dough is too dry.

Instead of the egg wash exterior, Enchin brushes the challah with a mixture of non-dairy milk and maple syrup. “It’s delicious. It works well. It’s not as shiny as egg wash, but it’s fine.”

Sometimes she uses a vegan egg substitute made with ground flax seed and water, which gives the challah a “nuttier taste.”

When she makes challah these days, Enchin uses bread flour instead of all purpose flour. “Bread flour has more gluten. It gives the challah a more chewy texture and that’s especially important for vegan challah.”

Frances Enchin’s vegan challah


CHALLAH (The Food Processor Bible)

5 g (1 tsp) sugar

125 ml (½ cup) warm water 43°C (105 to 115°F)

15 g 1 package dry yeast or (1 tbsp)

750 ml (3 cups) flour

30 – 45 ml (2 – 3 tbsp) honey or sugar

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

85 ml (1/3 cup) oil

**2 eggs (or 1 egg plus 2 egg whites)

60 ml (¼ cup) lukewarm water

**1 egg yolk beaten with (5 ml) 1 tsp water

poppy or sesame seeds

water if the recipe without eggs or egg substitute is too dry

**Vegan Substitutions

Eggs use 2 flax eggs (optional)

Vegan “egg wash” or glaze any non dairy milk and maple syrup

Flax Egg

15 ml (1 tbsp) ground flax seed

45 ml (3 tbsp) water

Combine water and flax seeds. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before adding to the recipe

Vegan “Egg Wash” or Glaze

30 ml (2 tbsp) nut milk

15 ml (1 tbsp) maple syrup

Combine the milk and syrup and brush on challah before baking.


Challah Dough

In a measuring cup, dissolve 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar in 125 ml (½ cup ) of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir to dissolve the yeast.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flour, sugar or honey, and salt inside the processor bowl. Pour the dissolved yeast over and process 12 to 15 seconds. While the machine is running, add the oil, eggs (optional) or vegan eggs (optional) through the feed tube and process until blended, about 10 seconds. Add the water and process until the dough gathers and forms a mass around the blade. (Have an additional ¼ cup of flour ready in case the machine begins to slow down. Add it in through the feed tube if necessary. Process the dough 45 seconds longer. It will be sticky.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by hand for 1 to 2 minutes until it is smooth and elastic, adding just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Turn the dough over so that all the surfaces are lightly greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. (The dough may also rise in the refrigerator. It will keep up to 3 days before shaping and baking.)

Punch down the dough. For a lighter texture, let the dough rise again until it doubles. Punch it down.

To shape: divide the dough into 3 equal portions and roll into 3 long strands. Place them on a sprayed baking sheet. Braid them loosely and tuck the end under. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled, about 1 hour. Brush the dough with egg wash or vegan glaze and sprinkle with seeds.

Bake in a preheated 200°C (400°F) oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. The dough will sound hollow when tapped with your fingers. Cool the challah away from the draft.

Holiday Variation: Knead and let the dough rise as directed. To shape, roll the dough into a large thick rope and place it on a sprayed baking sheet. Coil up the rope like a snail starting from the centre and working outwards. Tuck the end under. When the dough has doubled in size, brush with the egg wash or vegan glaze. Sprinkle with seeds and bake in 200°C (400°F) oven for 30 minutes as directed above.



Cashew Cheese (this recipe was adapted from the Connoisseurus Veg website)

  • 375-500 ml (1½ to 2 cups) cashews soaked overnight for 4 to 8 hours
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) non-dairy, unflavoured milk
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) juice

4 garlic cloves, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Spinach Filling

3 240 g packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained and squeezed dry

500 ml (2 cups) onions, finely chopped

30- 45 ml (2 -3 tbsp) olive oil

4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced

5 ml (1 tsp) basil, dry

5 ml (1 tsp) oregano, dry

30 ml (2 tbsp) tapioca flour or corn starch

1 454 g package of phyllo pastry dough (sheets), thawed

Canola or grape seed oil for brushing the phyllo dough

Cashew Cheese: combine the soaked cashews, non-dairy, milk, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Blend the ingredients until they become smooth. This step can be done the night before and the “cheese” can be refrigerated.

Spinach Mixture: In a large saucepan, saute the onions in the oil on medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic and combine well, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano, basil and the tapioca flour or corn starch and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool.

When the spinach mixture is at room temperature, add the “cashew cheese” and combine well.


Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease a 23 x 33 cm (9 x13-inch) pan with oil. Take a sheet of phyllo dough and place it on the bottom of the prepared pan allowing the edges of the sheet to hang over the sides of the pan. Brush the sheet with oil and cover the sheet with a second phyllo dough sheet. Brush the second sheet with oil and cover it with a third pastry sheet. Continue layering the pan with 2 more phyllo sheets and oil.

Add the 6th sheet but do not brush it with oil. Top with half the spinach and “cheese” mixture, spreading it evenly across the pan. Cover the spinach mixture with a sheet of phyllo dough. Brush the upper side of the sheet with oil and repeat the layering of five more phyllo dough sheets, brushing each one with oil. Add a sixth sheet but do not brush with oil. Top with remaining spinach mixture.

Fold in the dough pieces that are hanging over the sides of the pan, making sure they are brushed with oil and covering the second spinach layer. Cut 1 last piece of phyllo dough in half and place the 2 pieces flat on top of all the sheets to cover the seams. Brush with oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.

Makes 8-10 servings

Janna Gur


Food Event Calendar

Oct. 24 7:30 pm – In conversation with Janna Gur, co-author of the Israeli new cookbook, Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking.

The event will be held at City Shul Congregation (300 Bloor St. W.)

Bonnie Stern will interview Gur on “the Israeli cuisine scene,” and followed by refreshments. Hummus and sweets will be served courtesy of By the Way Cafe. Copies of Shuk will be available for sale. Tickets are $18/person.

Register here: https://www.cityshul.com/form/heart.of.israeli.cooking

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