Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and celebrating the holiday is all about finding ways to invite sweetness and good things into the coming year. It’s a wonderful part of fall, and it always reminds me that new beginnings don’t happen only once a year. In my family it’s always been a fairly low-maintenance holiday. It never had the hype of Hanukkah or the weird traditions of Passover or the importance of the High Holy Days, but it was a wonderful little moment that brought everyone together. We used to celebrate it pretty sporadically (it’s the holiday that always snuck up on us), but since we’ve been together, my fiancé and I make it a point to remember and celebrate it.
Typically we buy an apple, slice it, and dip it in honey (this is the tradition–we didn’t make this up)–and that’s the end of it. But this year I forgot to buy an apple. And we were spending the evening with our friends watching a movie. The celebratory snack needed to be more portable (less likely to brown) than apples and honey.
The traditional dessert of this holiday is honey cake, usually served in loaf form (I know this from other people–I’ve actually never made it or eaten it). After consulting myriad recipes, I couldn’t figure out a way to guarantee the results on the first try. A lot of people on blogs talked about needing to perfect their recipe over years, and I just didn’t have that kind of time this weekend. Since cupcakes almost always go over better than loaf-shaped cakes (they just look so much cuter and you can taste one beforehand to make sure it came out okay), I decided to make cupcakes instead. In honor of the holiday I added both apples and honey and made the recipe fairly simple and straightforward by using cake mix and working from there. You could absolutely adjust your favorite spice cake recipe instead, but I don’t have a favorite recipe. So if you want to share your best spice cake recipe (or honey cake recipe), please do!
Apple Spiced Cupcakes
-1 box spice cake mix
-2 tbs brandy/bourbon
~ 1 cup milk
-2 tbs butter melted
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup apple butter
Preheat oven to 350F and put liners in cupcake pans. Measure out brandy into a measuring cup, then fill the rest of the way to the 1 cup mark with milk. Add vanilla and stir. Combine the rest of the ingredients (including the milk) into a large bowl. Beat on medium speed (or by hand) for two minutes. Scoop batter into liners and bake 15-20 minutes or until the cake bounces back and/or a skewer comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
Honey Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream*
-4 egg whites
-2/3 cup sugar
-1/4 cup honey
-3 1/2 sticks butter, softened, cut in pieces
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Place egg whites and sugar in a clean heat-proof bowl (no traces of oil) over a pan of simmering water (double boiler). Whisk mixture until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 160F. Beat on high speed until meringue reaches stiff peaks, then add butter one piece at a time, waiting until the last piece is incorporated before adding more. Add vanilla and cinnamon and beat to combine.
*Any frosting would be good on these–a thick honey glaze would be great too.
How do you celebrate the beginning of fall? Let me know in the comments!