When I grew up, it was considered elegant to buy desserts at bakeries.

Every Rosh Hashanah, my grandmother arrived carrying a mountain of white boxes fastened with thin red and white string. Inside, I’d find leaf cookies dipped in dark chocolate, éclairs, brownies and a chocolate layer cake with mocha frosting. My family was ecstatic about chocolate.

Following an age-old Jewish custom, our Rosh Hashanah dinners started with us dipping apple slices into a crystal bowl of honey. “For a sweet New Year,” my father always explained. “Let’s hope mixing two sweet things together will bring prosperity and peace.”

Within seconds, our Rosh Hashanah apple experience was over. By dessert, we’d forgotten the connection between apples and a sweet New Year, as we indulged in chocolate from a French patisserie.

But as an adult, I realized apples could be baked into Rosh Hashanah desserts, underscoring their nectar and our optimism for the year ahead. I searched for dessert recipes calling for abundant apples. Removing dairy products, I created pareve, yet delicate pastry. Eventually, I began baking for Rosh Hashanah with my granddaughters.

Like apples and round challahs, everything comes full circle at Rosh Hashanah. I miss my grandmother and the chocolate desserts she bestowed. But now that I’m a grandmother myself, I’m passing on a different kind of memory — a collection of apple recipes that have become part of our New Year’s tradition.

Use any baking apples for these recipes, such as Gala, Cortland, Fuji or Macoun.

Optional accompaniment for these recipes: Sharon’s Sorbet, which is pareve. Coconut, coffee, strawberry and raspberry pair well.

Apple Cobbler | Pareve

Apple Filling

6 baking apples

1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons margarine

2 tablespoons flour

⅓ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

Peel, core and slice the apples. Sprinkle the slices with lemon juice and mix to coat them.

In a large pot, preferably nonstick, place the apples, margarine and the remaining apple filling ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid. Over a low flame, bring the mixture to a slow simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples wilt and there’s a thick sauce. Cool to warm with the pot covered.


Nonstick vegetable spray

8 tablespoons margarine

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

½ cup orange juice

¼ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray. Cut the margarine into 12 pieces and scatter it in the prepared baking pan. Place the pan in the oven and melt the margarine completely. Remove the pan from the oven when the margarine is melted. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix together the flour, sugar, orange juice and vanilla until combined. The dough will be thick. Divide the dough into 2 parts — one-third and two-thirds. With a spoon, drizzle two-thirds of the batter over the melted margarine as evenly as possible. The margarine will be puddled under the batter, which will not cover the margarine entirely. Place the apple mixture over the dough as evenly as possible. With a spoon, drizzle the remaining one-third of the dough over the apples. Bake for 55 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately. The recipe can be made two days in advance, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature and place it in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes until warmed.

Serves 18

Apple Raspberry Coffee Cake | Pareve


3 cups of baking apples, about 3-4

½ pint of raspberries

Nonstick vegetable spray

1 stick (½ cup) cold margarine

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon lemon zest

2 cups flour

2½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Peel, core and dice the apples. Rinse the raspberries under cold water and drain them on paper towels. Reserve. Spray a 7-inch-by-11-inch baking pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the margarine into 12 slices. Place it in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. With an electric mixer, cream the margarine and sugar for 1-2 minutes. The consistency will look like cottage cheese. Add the egg and lemon zest and beat until creamy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In 3 batches, add the dry ingredients alternating with the liquids. End with the liquids. With a spatula, scrape down the bowl 2-3 times to make sure the ingredients adhering to the sides of bowl get mixed in. Move the batter to the prepared pan. Spread the dough evenly.

Crumb Topping

¼ cup margarine, at room temperature

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon flour

In a small bowl, mash the margarine and sugar with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to mash and mix until all the ingredients are combined. Spoon the crumb topping over the apples and raspberries as evenly as possible. Bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool to warm before serving.

Serves 12

Apple Spice Cake | Pareve

Nonstick vegetable spray

4 cups of apples, about 4-5 apples

1¾ cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon orange zest

⅔ cup chopped pecans

Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and slices the apples to measure 4 cups. Then coarsely chop the slices. Move them to a large bowl. Gradually pour in the sugar, as you take 2 spoons and toss the apples and sugar until the apples are coated with sugar and the 2 are completely combined. Reserve. In a second bowl, with a clean spoon, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. Reserve. Into a large mixing bowl (a third bowl), place the eggs, oil, vanilla and orange zest. With an electric mixer, beat the ingredients until well combined. Add the flour mixture alternating with the apples. Turning the mixer on and off, beat until well combined. Add the pecans and beat on a low setting until mixed in. Using a spatula, move the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before cutting the cake.

Serves 15 to 18

Apple Torte | Pareve

Nonstick vegetable spray

4 baking apples

½ teaspoon lemon juice

2 eggs

¼ cup orange juice

2 pinches of salt

1½ cups flour

⅛ teaspoon vanilla

Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and slice the apples thin. Sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice on each apple as you slice it. Toss the apple slices to coat. Reserve. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and orange juice together until foamy. Add the sugar and salt, beating until combined. Add the flour, half at a time, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat again briefly until combined. Using a wooden or silicone spoon, fold the apples into the dough. Mix until the slices are completely coated and distributed evenly throughout the batter. Move to the prepared springform pan. Spread the dough evenly in the pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes clean. Torte will be golden brown on top. Cool completely before releasing the springform and cutting the torte into slices.

Serves 10 JN

This article originally ran in the Jewish Exponent, a Jewish News-affiliated publication.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.