Challah and Bread:
I admit, I’m not Jewish. But I grew up in a part of Delaware with a sizeable Jewish population, to the point that I attended one of the few schools were they took the idea of a Judeo-Christian ethos seriously enough to actually give us the day off for Jewish holidays as well as Christian ones (as they should.) As a kid, I was obsessed with matzah, to the point that I used to trade for it with the kids in my school (now I feel kind of bad, as they were eating my pb&j on bread!). Of course, as they informed me, I might not have loved it so much if I was required to eat it. But I wasn’t and so to this day, I still buy some in Whole Foods for a delicious snack!
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and something I’ve always loved about it is that you don’t just prepare for the New Year. You reflect on the year you’ve just lived and critically, let go of the year before you as well as asking and offering forgiveness for what’s happened that year. Part of the traditional festive meal involves making a blessing on the apple and dipping it into the honey (asking God for a good year and a sweet year.)
I liked the idea of making an apple and honey cake which could be enjoyed with a very British cup of tea! So as opposed to the traditional apple covered in honey, I decided to make these apple and honey raisin squares (only substituting dates for raisins, as this is another traditional Rosh Hashanah food.)
Apple and Date Honey Squares (adapted from Rachel Allen)
225g self-raising flour
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp clear honey (I used clear, but I think there’s a couple nice flavours that would be lovely in this)
2 apples, cut up into small bits
Start by combining the unsalted butter, caster sugar and honey. Heat in a saucepan until you have combined all of these and the sugar has dissolved into the mixture.
While that is mixing, combine oats, self raising flour and bicarbonate of soda in a mixing bowl. Mix in the honey/butter/sugar mixture into the oats/flour combination until you basically have a buttery oat mixture!
Once it’s combined, you start layering the squares. The new mixture is used to make the top and bottom layers, with the dates and apples in between. Put half of this mixture on the bottom of the tin (lined with parchment paper) and cover with the combined apples and dates. Finally, cover with the second half of the mixture.
Heat to 180C and bake for about half an hour (it should be a crispy brown on the top when finished.)
Cut into squares and enjoy (preferably while reflecting on the last year and your hopes for the next one!) Happy New Year, everyone! If this has inspired you into the Rosh Hashanah baking spirit, how about entering to win this copy of The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen? Just leave a comment below telling me whether or not you’ve ever been to a Rosh Hashanah supper and if so, what was your favourite meal?
Be sure to check out the other blogs for other chances to win!