Pascale’s Kitchen: Ti Bishvat dried fruit treats

This year, I’ve chosen three fantastic recipes for desserts made with fruit that are perfect for serving on Tu Bishvat.

(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Tu Bishvat, which begins on Sunday night, is the time of year when we celebrate the New Year of the Trees. If you look around as you drive or walk around Israel this week, you will notice that the almond trees have begun to blossom as they do every year when Tu Bishvat rolls around. 

On this holiday, it is traditional to eat fruits, especially those that belong to the Seven Species mentioned in the Torah, which are native to the Land of Israel.

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I love baking a different cake with dried fruits each year for Tu Bishvat. At first, I wasn’t a big lover of dried fruit cakes, but over the years I’ve really come under their spell, and now I absolutely adore them. I love how the texture and colors of the dried fruit contrast with the crispy and soft parts of the cakes. 

I keep my pantry stocked with dried fruits pretty much all year round, since every once in a while I’m gripped with a desire to bake a cake with dried fruits. As long as you store them in a dry container, they won’t get moldy and will last for a long time. If you want to be able to leave bowls of dried fruits on your table but don’t want insects to have access to them (and who does?!), you can purchase see-through mesh food covers that sit over the bowls like a tent. 

When you go to the store to purchase dried fruits, you should be aware that there are two types.


The first type is fruit that has been dried with added sugar. Most of these dried fruits are also smoked with sulfur, which prevents the fruits from spoiling, enhances their natural color, and makes them shiny. For this reason, it is extremely important to wash these dried fruits before eating them or baking with them, even though this sounds a bit outrageous. 

The second type is organic. For the most part, these fruits are dried without any added sugar or preservatives. As a result, they might not look as pretty or enticing, but they taste much better, are lower in calories, and have much higher nutritional value. 

This year, I’ve chosen three fantastic recipes for desserts made with fruit that are perfect for serving on Tu Bishvat.

The first recipe is for cranberry, raisin and pecan cupcakes. This recipe is so simple to follow. And I love being able to grab one of the cupcakes without having to worry about slicing a cake every time I want a taste. 

The second recipe is for lemon cake with fresh blueberries and streusel topping. This cake is extremely tasty, and it is exciting to slice into it and see the beautiful blueberries embedded inside. 

The third recipe is for fruitcake, which I like to make using a unique assortment of dried fruits and nuts each time. This way, each time I make it, the texture, color and flavor all come out a little bit different.  


Use a 27 cm. x 10 cm. x 7 cm. pan.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. lemon (or orange) zest
  • ½ cup canola (soy, sunflower or corn oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small container (150 gr.) yogurt 3% fat (or Eshel or sour cream)
  • 1 packet of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1.5 cups flour, sifted
  • 200 gr. fresh or frozen blueberries (or other berries)

Streusel topping:

  • ½ cup flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup demerara sugar
  • 50 gr. cold butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the batter: Add the sugar and lemon zest to a large bowl and mix with a whisk. While mixing vigorously, add the oil, vanilla, eggs (one at a time). Keep mixing for another 2 to 3 minutes. 

While mixing, add the lemon juice and yogurt to the batter. Add the baking powder, salt and flour. Keep mixing until smooth. 

Add half of the blueberries and mix well. Line your pan with baking paper and pour the batter into the pan. Flatten the batter. Sprinkle the rest of the blueberries on top of the batter and gently press them into the batter with a spoon. 

To prepare the streusel: Add all the streusel ingredients to a bowl, and combine using your fingers. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the batter. 

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° or 180° for 30 minutes. Then cover with aluminum foil and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few wet crumbs on it. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 75 minutesStatus: Dairy


Makes 12-16 cupcakes.


  • 200 gr. softened butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
  • 1 container of yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • Oil spray
  • ½ cup light raisins
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. pecans, chopped


  • ¼ cup flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup almonds, ground coarsely
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • ½ cup demerara or regular sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 50 gr. cold butter, cut into small pieces

To make the batter: Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and whip on high speed. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla sugar, then continue mixing for another 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the eggs and mix until light and fluffy.

Lower the speed and gradually add the flour, yogurt and milk a little at time. Mix until smooth. Fold in the raisins, cranberries and pecans. If the batter is too thick, add up to 1-2 more tablespoons of milk.

Arrange the paper cupcake holders in a muffin pan. Spray them lightly with oil spray. Spoon the batter into the cupcake holders or transfer the batter to a pastry bag and squeeze the batter into the cupcake holders so that the batter fills only ¾ of them, since the cupcakes will expand during the baking process. If you will be using individual cake pans, arrange them on a baking tray. 

Mix the streusel ingredients together in a medium bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle streusel on top of all of the cupcakes. 

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. Remove the cakes and let them cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or cold. 

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 1 hourStatus: Dairy



Use a springform pan with a 26-cm. diameter, or two 30-cm. loaf pans. 

  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup flour, sifted
  • ½ cup almonds, ground finely
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda, sifted
  • 150 gr. bittersweet chocolate, grated
  • 200 gr. walnuts and pecans, slightly roasted
  • 500 gr. dried fruits, such as figs, apricots, cranberries and prunes
  • 2 Tbsp. brandy
  • 4 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 1 level tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger


  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer. Once the eggs are whipped, gradually add the sugar while mixing. Mix for another 8 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, almonds, baking powder and baking soda together. Gently fold one-third of the dry mixture into the eggs, then another third, then the last third, until the batter is smooth. 

Pour the batter into a pan that is lined with baking paper and greased. Flatten the batter. 

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 50-60 minutes until it has turned golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. 

Let the cake cool down, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 80 minutesStatus: Parve

Translated by Hannah Hochner.