Nana's Honey Cake /

Belated New Year’s wishes—and Nana’s honey cake

I’m such a poor excuse for a Jew that I’m a week late with this post about Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year.

Truth is, I don’t do a very good job acknowledging any of the Jewish holidays. I grew up celebrating only the basic few and after my grandparents died, even that pretty much faded away.

Writing last week’s post about my grandmother’s pickled green tomatoes, though, combined with Rosh Hashanah items in the news and on some of my favorite blogs (like this one by my friend Jennie Schacht, author of “Farmers’ Market Desserts”) got me to thinking about holidays at Nana’s table.

Traditionally, the Rosh Hashanah menu is laden with sweets, in the hopes that eating them will bring a sweet year—recipes often include honey, fresh or dried fruits, and even sweet vegetables like carrots and yams. Dinner at Nana’s might’ve featured brisket braised with apricots or prunes, a sweet noodle casserole, or kugel, some kind of carrot and sweet potato gratin, and honey cake for dessert.

Most of those recipes, we never saw except for Rosh Hashanah. But honey cake—that was something Nana made year-round.

Perhaps she wanted to spread the sweetness throughout the year. Just as likely, she enjoyed having a homemade treat on hand, one that was easy to make and easy to get us to say yes to. Nana was a Jewish mother after all, and at her happiest when she successfully coaxed someone into eating something.

And so, better late than never, my Rosh Hashanah gift to you, this recipe for Nana’s Honey Cake.

A very sweet year to you and yours.

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