The Jew And The Carrot

Applesauce Cake With Pomegranate Glaze

By Katherine Martinelli

  • Print
  • Share Share
Katherine Martinelli

Apple cake is one of Judaism’s most enduring recipes. Every family has its own method and nary a Jewish cookbook is without an entry for this perennial favorite. While the cake is popular year round, at no time does it see more action than during Rosh Hashanah, when apples and honey represent a sweet new year. But there are many other simanim (the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah) that get overlooked and this year I wanted to bring them into the picture.

In a humorous twist of history and translation, apples may not have even been one of the biblical fruits of the bible. According to Gil Marks in “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” the bible mentions tapuach, which in modern Hebrew means apple. “However,” he says, “many authorities believe that the biblical tapuach was in fact a different fruit, perhaps the quince or a citrus fruit, because in the biblical period, the apple primarily grew wild and was not yet easily cultivated in tropical areas like Israel and Egypt.”

Whatever the case, apples have become an inexorable part of Jewish food symbolism. On Rosh Hashanah, the fruit takes different incarnations across cultures. Marks explains that Hungarian Jews make apple cakes, tarts, strudels and compotes for the holiday while Calcutta Jews cook apples with honey and rose water. Various iterations of apple cake abound from different Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities.

While most recipes call for sliced apples, this recipe uses applesauce. The result is a beautifully tender, springy cake that is as delicious for breakfast as dessert. I also wanted to add honey to my recipe, both as a nod to the auspicious combination of apples and honey and to honey cake, another Rosh Hashanah favorite. To take it a step further I used date honey (a syrup made from dates) rather than regular honey both because it adds a deeper, more complex flavor, and because many believe that when the bible speaks of “the land of milk and honey” it was referring to date syrup.

Finally, for an extra sweet new year I wanted to incorporate pomegranates, one of the most symbolic fruits in Judaism. Its supposed 613 seeds are said to represent the number of commandments in the Torah so eating pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah is especially good luck. Plus, they’re delicious; pomegranate adds a sweet but tangy note to the cake. After a disastrous attempt at adding pomegranate seeds to the cake batter (they get hard and crisp when baked), I decided that a pomegranate glaze would be the perfect way to top off the cake. And it was. Chag Sameach!

Applesauce Cake With Pomegranate Glaze

Yield: 1 cake, about 12 servings

Applesauce Cake 2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg or ground cloves
1½ cups dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup date honey (substitute regular honey if date honey is unavailable)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1½ cups unsweetened applesauce

Pomegranate Glaze:
½ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
¾ cup pomegranate seeds

For the Applesauce Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg or cloves. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl stir together the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined. Stir in the date honey, then whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the apple sauce and stir until fully mixed in. Add the flour mixture one third at a time, making sure it is well incorporated before each addition.

Spoon the batter into a greased 10-inch Bundt or tube pan. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake 40 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly then invert onto a plate or board. Let it cool while you make the pomegranate glaze.

For the Pomegranate Glaze:
Combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered and stirring frequently, until syrupy and reduced by about half (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the pomegranate seeds. Spoon the glaze over the cake and serve.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rosh Hashanah, Pomegranate, Honey, Apple Cake, Applesauce

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.