Honey cake with apple-bourbon glaze; sauteed green beans; steamed vegetables with warm vinaigrette.
My mom hosted Rosh Hashana dinner this year, and the preparatory conversation went like this:
Me: What can I bring?
Her: Oh, don't worry about it. The soup is already done. I'm making a roast.
Me: I can make challah.
Her: I already got it at Hen House.
Her: Oh, you're busy. If you feel like it, you can make something.
My mother is something of a dynamo when it comes to large family gatherings.
As it happened, I didn't feel like it at all. I have a stack of papers to grade and Chuck went out of town this week, so the thought of baking something was singularly unappealing. But then I went over to my parents house early on Friday afternoon, and as it turned out, there was a lot of cooking left to finish. So I made myself useful. Never let it be said that I would leave my mom in the lurch.
I adapted this honey cake recipe from the 1952 edition of The Complete American-Jewish Cookbook, by Anne London and Bertha K. Bishov. I made up the glaze; the bourbon was my sister's idea.
Honey cake with apple-bourbon glaze
For the cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder, borrowed from neighbor after discovering mother's baking powder moved with family from New York State in 1979
1/2 t. salt
1 cup honey
1 cup butter
1 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a Bundt pan.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the honey; beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat gently until combined. Pour into a Bundt pan and bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack and cool completely.
For the glaze
1 1/2 c brown sugar, borrowed from same neighbor when mother can't find brown sugar she was sure was somewhere in that damn freezer
3/4 c water
1/2 t salt
1/4 c bourbon
2 round apples (I used honeycrisps), sliced into 1/4-in thick rounds (to prevent browning, place the slices in ice water until you are ready to use them)
1-2 t. lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar, bourbon, salt, and lemon juice to a boil. Stir until everything is dissolved. Lower the heat to simmer the liquid and gently add the apple slices. Simmer until the syrup is reduced and the apples are very soft, about 20 minutes.
Finishing the cake
When the cake has cooled, gently poke intermittent holes into it with a toothpick. Gradually drizzle the glaze over the cake so that the glaze soaks in. Drape the apple slices over the top of the cake and drizzle with glaze. Be very careful not to spill glaze all over your mother's nice clean floor as you carry the cake plate into the dining room, or else you will have to wash the floor in front of a house full of company.