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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shana Tova (Happy New Year)

Rosh Hashanah starts tomorrow at sundown.  Shana tovas ("happy new year" in Hebrew) will be filling the synagogue tomorrow night and throughout Thursday.  So begins the Jewish high holidays, which end on October 8 with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

The holidays start happy and grow more contemplative and solemn.  The new year is an occasion for celebrating, eating sweet foods (typically honey and apples) to wish for a sweet year ahead and meeting with friends.  As we get closer to Yom Kippur, we are to make amends to those we have wronged in the past year, and as to be inscribed in the Book of Life for the next year.  It's a time for thinking about what we can do better in the year ahead.

Which brings me to today's recipe.  I have a weird deal with myself when it comes to sweets--aside from fruit, I generally don't eat them during the week.  It's a way of being disciplined, which is good, because I adore cake.  I could take or leave pie, but give me any sort of cakey fruit dessert and I'm just sold.

When I was in law school, I pounced on this recipe in Cooking Light and have been making it nearly every year since.  Although it's not written for the Jewish holidays, it combines apples, cinnamon and reduced-fat cream cheese for a nearly guiltless pleasure that works either as a coffee cake or a simple dessert.  With that said, the cake is heading off to my office tomorrow morning to, er, keep it away from me. 

If only we had Smell-O-Vision.

Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon-Apple Cake
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine October 1997

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large Fuji apples, cored and chopped (peel if you like--I didn't.  You can substitute another sweet-tart apple.)
Nonstick cooking spray

I don't always have everything organized beforehand, so I feel the need to show off when I do.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar with the butter, vanilla and cream cheese in a bowl and blend at medium speed with a mixer.  Add one egg, beat the mixture until just combined, and do the same with the other egg.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Add this mixture to the butter one, beating at low speed until just combined.

Stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon.  Combine the apple with two tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture, stir and add to the batter. 

Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour in the batter.  Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the cake.

Bake for an hour and ten minutes.  You will know the cake is done when it starts to pull away from the pan.  Cool on a wire rack.  This cake is so tender that it is best cut with a serrated knife.

Kitchen Renovation Update:  The Backsplash from Hell is gone!  Even with bare walls, the kitchen looks better and our contractor found space for us to have a full size-refrigerator.  Happy new year, indeed.

Yes, the refrigerator is messy.  Don't judge.
Shana Tova!


  1. This apple cake sounds really good! I love baking with apples during this time of the year!! This is a great dessert for any occasion!

  2. Apples and cinnamon get my vote! Your lovely picture of the cake did have some influence. Thanks for sharing-yum!

  3. LOL, glad your renovations are going well! The kitchen looks great! As does this apple cake...I've been dying to make one this fall :)

    Happy New Year!!!

  4. What a wonderful cake to celebrate the new year. I am such a fan of cake, too. This looks perfect for the fall and what a great way to celebrate your new kitchen as well! I hope you have a really sweet year ahead!

  5. Apples+cinnamon= Awesome flavous! Love your cake. Wishing you a great year ahead!

  6. Happy New Year! This is a beautiful cake!

  7. The cake looks great, I can imagine the apple and cinnamon smell and taste. I've always loved apples in baked treats. Thanks for sharing!

  8. The cake looks delicious, I can imagine the smell and taste of apples and cinnamon. I've always loved apples in pastries. Thanks for sharing!

  9. After reading this post, we must find someone that can invent smell-o-vision, this looks (and I can only imagine) most have a great aroma. Nothing like cinnamon and apples especially in the fall