Sweet for Succot

For the sweet side of the Succot menu, sometimes the best choice is a simple homemade fruit dessert.

Rosh Hashana cake (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rosh Hashana cake
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For the sweet side of the Succot menu, sometimes the best choice is a simple homemade fruit dessert.
A longtime favorite of ours is apple flan, made of sauteed apples baked in an easy-to-make custard. In France, chefs enhance the apple taste by flavoring the custard with Calvados, a Norman apple brandy. (See recipe.)
Another easy but delicious treat is a fruit parfait with yogurt and granola. Betty Rosbottom, author of Sunday Brunch, makes lightly spiced plum parfaits by cooking diced plums in a hot frying pan with a little sugar and sweet spices – ground ginger and cinnamon. After a few minutes of cooking, the sugar turns syrupy and the plums become tender. At serving time, she layers the plums in wine glasses with lightly sweetened Greek yogurt (which is similar to labaneh) flavored with a bit of vanilla, and tops each layer with a sprinkling of granola.
Rosbottom uses apples and dates to make another fruit dessert with a creamy topping. For her apple and date compote with maple cream, she sautees apple wedges in butter with a sprinkling of brown sugar. After removing the apple pieces, she simmers apple juice in the pan with honey, lemon juice and sweet spices, and then adds quartered dates and heats the apples in the light sauce. She serves the fruit with a topping of whipped cream combined with sour cream and maple syrup, and a garnish of toasted walnuts.
If you’re in the mood for a more substantial sweet, consider baking a pudding. Stephen and Ethel Longstreet, authors of The Joys of Jewish Cooking, make Succot date and walnut pudding with very little sugar, as the dates naturally contribute sweetness. The ingredients for their pudding are similar to those for a cake – flour, sugar and eggs – and the batter can be stirred together in a few minutes. (See recipe.)
The Longstreets’ apple bread pudding is another simple combination, made of beaten eggs, sugar and milk flavored with vanilla, nutmeg and a little salt. To this batter they add thin apple slices and bread cubes, and bake the pudding in a buttered dish set in a pan of hot water. They serve the pudding with heavy cream.
Homey fruit cakes are perfect Succot desserts. To make a fruit-topped country cake, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, authors of Home Baking, bake pears or apples in a yeast dough. The cake is enriched with a bit of butter, and for its sweetness depends mainly on the fruit. (See recipe.) Making such a cake, wrote the authors, is “easy as pie...easier than pie!”
Faye Levy is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes.
This dessert is from Fresh from France: Dessert Sensations by Faye Levy.
To make the dessert parve, substitute vegetable oil or margarine for the butter, and use 11⁄2 cups soy milk or other nondairy milk instead of the combination of milk and cream.
350 gr. (3⁄4 lb.) apples – sweet, semi-tart or tart1 Tbsp. butter5 to 7 Tbsp. sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples1⁄2 cup creme fraiche, sour cream or whipping cream (optional)1 to 11⁄2 cups milk2 large eggs2 large egg yolks2 Tbsp. Calvados (apple brandy), other brandy or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 175ºC (350ºF). Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Heat butter in a large skillet, add apples and stir until coated with butter. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until apples are very tender, about 15 minutes. Add 2 or 3 Tbsp. sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples, and cook uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the liquid that comes out of the apples evaporates.
Generously butter four 2⁄3-cup ramekins. Spoon apple mixture into ramekins. If you will be adding creme fraiche or other cream, measure 1 cup milk; if not adding cream, measure 11⁄2 cups milk. Bring milk to a boil. Remove from heat and cool a few minutes.
Whisk eggs and yolks lightly in large bowl. Add 4 Tbsp. sugar and whisk just to blend. Stir in creme fraiche, if using, and whisk it in lightly. Gradually pour in about 1⁄2 cup milk, stirring with whisk. Using wooden spoon, gradually stir in remaining 1⁄2 cup milk, or 1 cup milk if you are not adding cream. Stir in Calvados. Pour into measuring cup. Skim foam from surface of mixture.
Set ramekins in a roasting pan or large shallow baking dish. Divide custard mixture evenly among ramekins. Place pan with ramekins in oven. Add enough very hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Set a sheet of foil on top to cover ramekins. Bake until the point of a small thin-bladed knife inserted gently in center of each ramekin comes out clean, about 28 minutes.
Serve dessert hot or cold, in the ramekins.
Makes 4 servings
This parve, old-fashioned Russian baked pudding is from The Joys of Jewish Cooking. For dairy meals, authors Stephen and Ethel Longstreet recommend whipping 2 cups heavy cream to serve on top of the pudding.
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour1 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder1⁄2 tsp. salt2 cups chopped pitted dates1 cup walnut halves 3 eggs1 Tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Grease a deep 23-cm. (9-in.) square pan. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Lightly mix in the dates and nuts.
Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and add the sugar. Stir in the date, nut and flour mixture.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake until pudding is firm, about 40 minutes. Cut pudding in wedges while it is still warm.
Makes 8 servings
This recipe is from Home Baking. Authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid write that the cake probably has its origins in the country habit of baking a cake from extra yeast dough left after making bread.
The cake’s simple bread dough needs only a few minutes of kneading, and has a quick topping of sliced fruit, sugar, cinnamon and small pieces of butter.
Dough:1 Tbsp. sugar1⁄4 cup warm water2 tsp. active dry yeast1 large egg1⁄4 tsp. salt1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened1 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
Topping:1 large or 2 small pears or applesabout 1⁄4 cup sugar1 to 1 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamonabout 2 tsp. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
To make the dough, stir the sugar into the warm water, then stir in the yeast. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. Stir in the salt and butter, then 1⁄2 cup of the flour. Stir briefly, then add the yeast mixture and stir it in. Add 3⁄4 cup more flour and stir in. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until firm and smooth, about 4 minutes.
Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover well with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in volume, about 11⁄2 hours.
When ready to bake, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
Butter a 23-cm. (9-in.) square or 25-cm. (10-in.) round, shallow cake pan or 25-cm. (10-in.) tart pan. Peel, core and thinly slice the fruit.
Flatten the dough out in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half the sugar and half the cinnamon, then arrange the fruit slices decoratively on top, to cover the whole surface. Sprinkle on the remaining sugar and cinnamon and then dot with the small pieces of butter. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes 8 servings