The ritual and spirituality that characterize the Jewish New Year holiday are particularly reflected in its dessert recipes. Fortunately, these are simple, and many can be made ahead. These wholesome offerings should satisfy a few generations.
New Year's faigele or honey raisin challah
Makes 2 large loaves.
2 tablespoons or 2 packages instant dry yeast (Fleischmann's Rapid Rise)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup light honey
1/3 cup oil
3 additional egg yolks
6 1/2 to 7 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dark or yellow raisins, plumped and dried
EGG WASH GLAZE:
2 tablespoons water
cornmeal for sprinkling
In a large mixing bowl briskly stir yeast, water, salt and honey till blended. Then add oil, eggs and yolks and 6 cups of the flour. If using an electric mixer, attach dough hook and add remaining flour. Knead 8 to 10 minutes until dough is soft and elastic and leaves the sides of the bowl. (If dough is still sticky, add small amounts of flour until it is soft but no longer sticks.)
Let dough rest on a lightly floured board 10 minutes, then knead or press in raisins as evenly as possible into the dough, folding dough over raisins to "tuck" them in. Cover dough with a damp clean tea towel and let it rest 20 minutes, or place in a lightly greased bowl and wrap with greased plastic. Refrigerate overnight, punch down and then proceed as follows.
Press any air out of dough and divide dough in two. For faigele, or turban-shaped bread, shape each section into a long rope (about 12 to 14 inches long) and coil into a turban shape, tucking the end in on top to "lock." Or you can divide each dough section into 3 ropes around 14 inches long and make a traditional challah braid. Place on cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on sesame seeds. Let rise until puffy, around 20 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 20 minutes or until bread is evenly browned.
Note: Only a third of bread's rising occurs outside the oven. The remaining two-thirds, or oven-spring, occurs in the oven, so don't wait for the old "until doubled in size" to occur.
Can be frozen baked or unbaked. If freezing unbaked, let bread rise slowly, overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Spicy honey carrot cake
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark honey
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee dissolved with 2 tablespoons hot water (see note)
zest of one orange, finely minced
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, cloves
3 cups loosely packed grated carrots
1 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
confectioners' sugar to dust finished cake (optional)
Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Blend the sugar with the honey and oil. Mix in eggs, vanilla, dissolved instant coffee and orange zest. In a separate bowl, stir the dry ingredients together. Fold flour mixture into batter, then grated carrots.
Spoon into prepared pan. Sprinkle top evenly with toasted almonds. Place cake in oven, reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until done, about 40 to 50 minutes.
Note: Leave out coffee if you want a less dark honey cake.