This is a busy period for Jewish cooks who are checking thei card files, cookbooks and mental notes for dishes with a sweet touch that are said to insure the sweetness of the coming year.
This year, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset Sept. 20. It's the start of a 10-day period of prayer and introspection ending on Sept. 29 with the Yom Kippur fast.
On this holiday, Jews greet each other by saying "have a good and sweet year." In accordance with the greeting sweet foods are not just present for dessert, but are served throughout the holiday meal. Such sweet vegetables as carrots and sweet potatoes are common place, as are sweet wines and dishes made with honey.
Honey has religious significance because of references in thBible to the Promised Land being "the land of milk and honey."
Here is a recipe for a honey cake that would fit the demands of the holiday without making too many demands on the cook.
Jewish Honey Cake
Makes one large loaf
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
3/4 cup dark honey (regular honey can be substituted)
2 tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in 3/4 cup tepid water
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and line its sides and bottom with wax paper. This step is very important -- otherwise the cake will not come out of the pan.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt, reserving one tablespoon of the mixture to toss with the walnuts in a small bowl. Set aside the flour mixture and the walnut mixture.
Lightly beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until just mixed. Stir in the melted butter or margarine and honey. Stir the dry ingredients into the honey mixture in three batches, adding them alternately with the coffee. Stir until smooth then add the grated orange peel and the floured walnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan low down in the oven and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cake browns too much during baking, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
Let the cake cool in the pan. Remove and wrap it tightly, leaving the paper on. Store in an airtight container for at least two days and up to two weeks so that the flavor mellows.
-- From "LaVerenne Pratique"
by Anne Willan;
Crown Publishers Inc. 1989, $60