It's not surprising, but my memories of celebrating Rosh Hashanah as a kid all revolve around food. There was the preparation of the dinner, the smells of each dish marking the arrival of fall. Chicken soup simmering on the stove. Brisket roasting in the oven with onions and carrots. I adored (and still do enjoy) the gefilte fish served at the beginning of the meal, topped with thinly sliced cucumbers and accompanied by a dollop of beet horseradish. But without a doubt the moment that stuck with me the most is dipping apple slices in honey. Sure, I liked apple slices, but honey was too intense for my tongue. I know, odd for a child to not enjoy anything that tasted of sugar. But I found the whole thing cloyingly sweet. And the honey inevitably got on my fingers and made my hands all sticky. But it was tradition... to welcome in the new year.
I always liked this idea of starting things off with something sweet. So often, we harp on all the negative things in our lives. It's nice to begin with something pleasant. Which is where this plum cake comes in. Though this kind of dessert was never served at our Rosh Hashanah dinners, it is a fairly traditional recipe to serve during Rosh Hashanah. I've taken some liberties with a plum cake by Melissa Clark (who is an incredibly talented cook and writer), by adding a crumble topping. Think of it as a cross between a cake and a crumble. We enjoyed it on its own, but you can't go wrong with topping it with whipped cream or ice cream (though, now that I've typed that, I wonder if you can ever go wrong with adding ice cream to a dessert). And leftovers (if there are any leftovers) make for a fantastic breakfast.
Source: Adapted from Melissa Clark's recipe for the New York Times
Ingredients for cake
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan 1 1/2 pounds plums, preferably several varieties, pitted and sliced 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup white sugar 2 tablespoons bourbon (or Cognac or brandy) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 large egg 1/2 cup milk
Ingredients for topping
3/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup sliced almonds 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
2. In a bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and kosher salt.
3. Add the butter, sugar, bourbon and vanilla to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until thoroughly combined.
4. Carefully add half the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Slowly pour in the milk and continue beating, occasionally scraping down the bowl with a spatula to make sure it's well incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined.
5. Using a spatula, transfer the dough into the pan, and smooth out the top. Scatter on the plums in an even layer.
6. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes (approximately half the total baking time). While it's baking, make the crumble topping.
7. To prepare the topping, add the brown sugar, flour, almonds, and salt to a mixing bowl. Pour the melted butter over the ingredients and stir with fork or spoon until it's combined.
8. After the cake has baked for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven, sprinkle the crumble topping over it, and return it to the oven. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top starts to brown slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.