The Jewish New Year begins at sundown Wednesday. The traditional round hallah bread is served on Rosh Hashanah, and you will always find a plate of sliced apples to be dipped in honey, symbolizing a sweet year ahead. I like to serve the honey in a large, hollowed-out red apple, surrounded by apple slices.
The use of honey for this holiday dates back to Biblical times when refined sugar was unknown. Its sweetness adds a distinctive flavor to ice cream, cakes, cookies and pastries, and it can be used as a glaze for everything from carrots to broiled chicken. Honey is an important ingredient in many favorite Rosh Hashanah dessert recipes such as lekach (honey cake), taiglach (honeyed nuts), and baklava. Honey is also used in some fish recipes; it's fermented to produce a wine called mead; and it adds a distinctive flavor to salad dressing.
Since you don't want to overdo the sweetness of honey, use only one or two of these recipes in your New-Year menu. Save the rest for other festive occasions. Many types of honey are now available--produced from lavender, clover, orange, pine and wild flowers, to name a few.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 27, 1990 Home Edition Food Part H Page 40 Column 3 Food Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Food Front Page--Credits for the food shots on the Sept. 13 front page were inadvertently deleted. The photographer was L. Kent Whitehead and the props were supplied by Mottura in Los Angeles.
The suggested dessert recipes for Rosh Hashanah have an international flavor. They include Joan Bram's Honey Cake, of German origin, enhanced with coffee, brandy and spices; Honey Ice Cream, a specialty of Provence, famous for its lavender honey; and Swedish Apple Squares, a blend of buttermilk, honey and whole-wheat flour. My favorite recipe, Honey Baked Apples, goes well with meat or dairy meals.
COOKING AND BAKING WITH HONEY
--Honey is twice as sweet as sugar and is semi-liquid. Do not substitute honey in a recipe without exact measurements.
--Dark honeys are usually the sweetest.
--To measure honey easily, place a jar of honey in a pan of hot water.
--If honey granulates, warm it to liquefy.
--Heating honey also makes it easier to blend with other ingredients.
--Store honey in a dark place.
--Cakes and cookies made with honey rather than sugar are moister and stay fresh longer.
JOAN BRAM'S HONEY CAKE
1/2 cup currants or raisins
3 tablespoons brandy
1 3/4 cups honey
1 cup strong coffee beverage
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Soak currants in brandy. Combine honey and coffee in saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Cool.
Combine oil, brown sugar and eggs in electric mixer bowl. Blend well at medium speed. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients alternately with coffee mixture into egg mixture. Fold in almonds, currants and orange zest.
Pour batter into 2 oiled 9x5-inch loaf pans. Bake at 300 degrees 1 hour or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean (top will be sticky). Makes 2 loaves.
HONEY ICE CREAM
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup honey
2 cups whipping cream
Combine milk and 1/2 cup sugar in heavy saucepan. Heat to just boiling. Add vanilla bean, cover and remove from heat.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and honey until thick and pale in color, about 3 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 cup warm milk mixture, blending thoroughly. Return egg yolk mixture to saucepan. Simmer and cook until thick (about 180 degrees on candy thermometer). Pour into heat-proof bowl.
Place custard bowl in larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. Add whipping cream and stir until mixture is cool. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
Remove vanilla bean and turn mixture into canister of ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Makes about 1 quart.
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons Concord grape wine or juice
3/4 cup honey
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
6 large Rome Beauty apples
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup apricot preserves
Plump raisins in wine 1 hour. Add honey, lemon juice and zest.
Wash and core apples. Cut off thin strip at base so apples stand upright. Place apples in baking dish. Fill centers with raisin mixture. Sprinkle with almonds. Pour apple juice around apples. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees 40 minutes.
Pierce skin of apples 2 to 3 times with sharp knife. Add preserves to juices in pan and mix well. Baste apples. Continue baking 20 minutes longer. Serve warm or cold. Makes 6 servings.
SWEDISH APPLE SQUARES
1/2 cup unsalted margarine or oil
2/3 cup honey, warmed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Cream margarine and honey together in bowl. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Combine buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add flour and mix well. Add apples and nuts.