In Season: Fruit 'n' nuts

Celebrate Tu Bishvat with a new batch of chewy, crunchy desserts.

Cheese and fig pie (photo credit: Shay Efgin)
Cheese and fig pie
(photo credit: Shay Efgin)
It is traditional to mark Tu Bishvat by eating fruit, particularly the kinds that are mentioned in the Torah, such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. In Israel, despite the abundance of fresh fruit available year round, the tradition of eating dried fruit and nuts is kept much as was custom in the Diaspora.
For Tu Bishvat, bakeries around the country take the opportunity to come up with fruit cakes and breads. Here are a few recipes we collected for the holiday.STOLLEN CAKE Makes 2 small loaves
Stollen is a traditional German cake that contains dried fruit and nuts and is covered with powdered sugar. The cake is usually made with chopped candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices.
Although in Germany the cake is traditionally eaten during Christmas and New Year, celebrity chef Micky Shemo decided it is perfect for Tu Bishvat. He offers it in his bakeries as part of a rich collection for the holiday, which includes thin fruit toasts and Florentine cookies, as well as fruit breads and pies.
( The stollen cake can be kept unrefrigeratedfor up to two weeks.
✔ 150 gr. butter, cut into cubes and softened ✔ 1 cup sugar ✔ 2 eggs ✔ 1 Tbsp. orange or apricot jam ✔ 3 cups flour ✔ 1 bag baking powder (10 gr.) ✔ 1⁄2 cup walnuts, crushed ✔ 1⁄2 cup almonds, crushed ✔ 11⁄2 cups mixed dried fruit cut into 2x2 cubes: apricots, raisins, papaya, pineapple or figs ✔ 50 gr. marzipan, cut into cubes ✔ Zest of 1 orange ✔ 1⁄2 cup milk ✔ Powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 170º. Whip butter and sugar together in the mixer bowl until mixture is light and fluffy. Keep mixer on and add eggs one at a time, then add milk, jam and orange zest.
Add the flour and baking powder and mix until the batter is smooth and a little sticky. Set speed to “low” and add nuts and almonds. Mix and add the dried fruit and then the marzipan and mix only until the fruit is spread evenly in the batter. Remove from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
Shape the batter into a loaf and bake on a lined baking sheet for 30 minutes or until golden.
Cool and dust with powdered sugar.
Optional: Soak fruit in 1⁄2 cup of brandy for 1 hour and strain before mixing into the batter.
Try this recipe for quick cookies, using frozen shortcrust pastry by Ma’adanot. You may, of course, prepare your own shortcrust pastry.
✔ 1 package frozen shortcrust pastry, defrosted ✔ 1 cup walnuts, chopped ✔ 2 Tbsp. flour ✔ 1⁄2 cup brown sugar ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. salt ✔ 3⁄4 cup real maple syrup ✔ 2 eggs, whisked ✔ Sour cream
Heat the oven to 175º. Grease a square 20x20-cm. baking pan. Roll out the defrosted pastry on a lightly floured working surface and cut to the size of the baking pan. Carefully place the pastry in the pan and press. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
To prepare filling: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Spread over the baked pastry and return to the oven for 30 more minutes. Cool on a rack and cut into squares.
Recipe courtesy of The White Chef.STUFFED BAKED APPLES Makes 6
For a lighter holiday delicacy, try this recipe which is low in sugar and fat.
✔ 6 Pink Lady apples ✔ Sugar ✔ Cinnamon ✔ 100 gr. dried apricots ✔ 50 gr. walnuts ✔ Butter-flavored Pam spray ✔ Cupcake pan or disposable aluminum cupcake forms
Heat the oven to 180º. Spray a baking dish with butter-flavored Pam. Pare the apples. Slice each apple horizontally, leaving the slices connected (see photo). Spray Pam between the slices and sprinkle with sugar. Place the apples in the baking dish.
Chop the dried fruit, spray with Pam and sprinkle 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and a little cinnamon. Fill the apples with the fruit mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Recipe courtesy of Pam.CHEESE AND FIG QUICHE Enough for a 16 cm-baking dish
This is another easy recipe that utilizes frozen pastry and low-fat cheese, combined with dried figs.
✔ Frozen puff pastry, cut to fit a baking dish, including the sides.✔ 1 package Tuv Ta’am low-fat white cheese ✔ 11⁄2 cups white flour ✔ 1 sachet baking powder ✔ 2 eggs ✔ 1⁄2 cup 3% milk ✔ 7 figs (dried or fresh) ✔ Salt, pepper and nutmeg ✔ Maple syrup (optional)
Heat the oven to 170º. Using a hand whisk or an electric mixer, whip together the eggs and milk. Add the flour, baking powder and cheese, and mix until smooth.
Add seasoning and mix. Line the baking dish and place the pastry in the dish and attach to the sides of the dish. Pour the cheese and egg mixture into the pastry.
Spread the figs evenly in the batter. Drizzle maple syrup over the quiche and bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is solid and browned. Serve warm.
Recipe courtesy of chef Barak Hai and Tara Dairy Farms.