For someone who claims to love holidays so much, nearly forgetting about the Jewish new year is a rather shocking oversight. Indeed, whether it’s a testament to how much I have on my plate right now as far as projects go or my quickly diminishing memory, I cut it very close this time around. Although I’m hardly religious and haven’t even been to temple once in the past seven years, I can still appreciate the significance of this commemoration; another chance to start fresh, and the opportunity to kick the year off on a sweet note, literally and figuratively. As a kid, my favorite part of this day would always be the traditional bowl of sliced apples placed at the center of the table, accompanied by a deep dish of amber honey. Of course, I would dive straight into the sea of gold syrup unencumbered by any of those “boring” apples, fingers knotted tightly together to shovel the sticky stuff straight into my mouth.
Having grown up a bit and matured (I hope) since then, the holiday has certainly become a less messy occasion, and instead of honey, I smother my crisp apples with agave. The thought of this simple pairing led me to contemplate other customary treats for Rosh Hashana, and it was no time before I hit upon the perfect thing to bring to dinner this year: Honey cake.
Not wanting to mislead, I would call this tender loaf a Rosh Hashana Cake instead, but for all any of my family knew, it was the original thing. Amber agave lends a slightly caramel-like sweetness, and that tiny drop of orange blossom water adds that tiny floral hint that honey always seems to carry. By adding a good deal of applesauce into the mix, you’ve got the two staples of the holiday right there in one easy to make cake, and with a thick slice after dinner or even for breakfast, it’s almost a guarantee that this new year will be a sweet one.
Rosh Hashana Cake
2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 Cup Amber Agave Nectar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Orange Blossom Water
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 5 greased loaf pan.
Sift together both flours, baking powder and soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a separate dish, measure out the oil, agave, applesauce, vanilla, vinegar, and orange blossom water, whisking thoroughly to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry via the “muffin method,” and stir the mixture together using as few strokes as possible to prevent over mixing. Once the batter is smooth and no pockets of wet or dry ingredients remain, pour into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 – 55 minutes. Since agave causes baked goods to brown much faster than sugar, cover your pan after it’s been in the oven for about 35 minutes to prevent it from becoming too dark.
When it’s done, a skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Let it cool completely in the pan before slicing.