Rosh Hashana, like many cherished holidays, is one that is observed with a wide array of delicious foods. At the Rosh Hashana table you will experience a wonderful variety of colors, tastes, and fragrances, while each dish bears its own symbolic significance.
The complexity of this ancient holiday is certainly reflected in its many traditional foods that are eaten in observance throughout the world.
One of the most well-known and loved Rosh Hashana dishes is challah. Challah is a sweet braided bread. What makes challah different on Rosh Hashana from every Shabbat is that the holiday bread is traditionally formed into a circle, symbolizing the circle of life and the continuity of the Jewish New Year.
On Rosh Hashana it is customary to eat sweet foods in order to welcome in the sweetness of the coming year. Two of the most common foods on the holiday menu are therefore apples and honey.
This tradition began with late medieval Askenazi Jews and is now observed the world over. At the beginning of a customary Rosh Hashana meal, a plate of apple slices and honey is passed around.
Each person at the table takes an apple slice and a little bit of honey to dip it into. Before eating the apple with honey, a special prayer is said in order to ask for the blessing of sweetness in the new year.
Both apples and honey are also frequently incorporated in other ways into the Rosh Hashana menu.
One very popular favorite is a traditional dessert, an apple and honey cake. This particular recipe comes from a member of the Orthodox community in France.
Apples and Honey Cake
3 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 cup honey
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 and ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ cup cold tea (green tea or black tea)
¼ cup orange juice
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated
1 medium carrot, grated
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup fluted tube or bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade process the eggs, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla extract for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. (Or, if you do not have a food processor, an electric mixer will work, too.)
Add both types of flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to the processor bowl. Then add the tea and orange juice and process with several on/off pulses just until the ingredients are moist and combined.
Add the grated apples and carrot and process with several quick on/off pulses until combined. (Again, alternately you can do this with a mixer. Just make sure not to over mix the ingredients. They only need to be blended together.)
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly throughout the pan using a rubber spatula.
Bake the cake for 65 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let it cool for 15 minutes on a cooling rack before inverting the pan and unmolding the cake onto a serving plate.
Enjoy this delicious and traditional Rosh Hashana dessert!
And while you dine, don’t forget that, when eating your dinner for Rosh Hashana, it’s not just what you eat but how you eat it that is significant.
Here is an article that explains the symbolic meaning of several of the foods traditionally eaten as part of the meal on Rosh Hashana: