There was￼ a flurry of activity that took place before every Rosh Hashana. The purchase of new clothing and shoes for the New Year. The smell of chicken soup cooking on the stove, and round Challas baking in the oven of my mother’s kitchen. My mother standing over mounds of dough that she rolled and cut into various shaped noodles, and then taking the noodles and tossing them into the air, like confetti. They would separate and land on her large wooden board, left there to air dry for hours. Little square noodles for soup, and long thin noodles for kugels or a dairy meal. The wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon baking inside her cake. The live carp swimming in the bathtub, yes, just like in the children’s book, and yes I played with it. The less pleasant memory of my mother stunning the carp with her rolling-pin and making it into gefilte fish. The beautiful Limoges china that she bought in France and brought with her to the United States, china that only came out for Rosh Hashana. Sweet memories for a sweet year.
To all of you, Shana Tovah U’Metukah.
Note: This is from notes that I once took as I watched my mother make her apple cake. The measurements are not exact as she never used a recipe.
Manya’s Apple Cake
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter or pareve margarine, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup Orange Juice ( dough may need less to roll out so be careful and start with 1 Tbs at a time)
Cream butter and sugar till smooth and light. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add to butter mixture along with vanilla. Mix for a few minutes till batter is smooth. In a second bowl sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture in 4 parts, stirring well each time. IF dough is very dry and crumbly, then add orange juice or water, 1 Tablespoon at a time till you can form a ball of dough. Place in refrigerator while you prepare your filling.
3 lbs. apples, peeled and cut into chunks.
4 Tbs. sugar (or more if apples are tart)
1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. matzoh meal
Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for about ten minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 Pyrex.
Divide cold dough into two. Flour your counter and roll out dough as best you can. If it is crumbly, add a drop of water and roll again till about 1/2 inch thick. Drape dough over rolling pin and place inside greased baking dish. Pat dough into all corners. Add apple mixture. Roll out second piece of dough and drape on top of apples. Gently press down. Brush top of cake with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Take a sharp knife and cut through cake, creating squares of about 2″ by 2″. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or till cake is golden brown. Even better the next day!