Ariel Shalit/AP Photo


Challah bread, centre, topped with apples dipped in honey. From top left: honey, fresh dates, pomegranates and an apple.

Count apples, honey and pomegranates among the flavours of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

This year, the holiday begins on the eve of Sept. 22 (Friday), and is celebrated until sunset Sept. 24, with much prayer — and, even more, with symbolic food.

In most Jewish homes, the meal begins by dipping apples in honey, to symbolize the desire for a sweet new year. Then a round challah, for continuity and the hope for a well-rounded year, is dipped into honey rather than salt (customary on the Sabbath and other holidays).

A first course of fish: fertility. A dessert of honey cake or dates leaves a sweet taste for more. Lastly, the Blessings Tray has seven edible items: pomegranates; a fish or sheep’s head (or a head of cabbage); and little dishes made up of carrots, leeks, beets and dates.


• Serves 8

A classic honey cake redolent with spices.


  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) superfine sugar

  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground ginger

  • 2-5 ml (1/2 to 1 tsp) cinnamon

  • 5 ml (1 tsp) apple-pie spice mix

  • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda

  • 250 ml (1 cup) clear honey

  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) vegetable or olive oil

  • Grated rind of 1 orange

  • 2 eggs

  • 75 ml (5 tbsp) orange juice

  • 10 ml (2 tsp) chopped fresh ginger, or to taste


Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F.) Line a 25 by 20.5 by 5 cm (10-by-8-by-2-inch) pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice and soda. In a separate bowl, beat honey, oil, orange rind and eggs. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquids. Beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth. Add orange juice and stir in chopped ginger. Pour the cake into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Cool in pan, turn out and wrap tightly in foil. Store at room temperature for 2 or 3 days before serving, to allow flavours of the cake to mature.