Being a convert, the thing that connected me to Judaism from the outset was food. Now as being a wife of a Rabbi, I want to bring that passion of food to a part of this beautiful holiday of reflection, family and tradition. Although I grew up in a non-Jewish home we had a very Jewish tradition of cooking specific family recipes during a given time of year. This was an idea that my grandmother instilled in me.
Once, I converted I was determined to honor my grandmother and my family as a whole by trying to incorporate as many of the old family recipes with a new Jewish twist. At this time of year as we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, I cannot help but think of grandma’s apple pie. Every fall, after school had started I could count on tasting her homemade pie and remember her making them fondly. It is this apple pie that is the inspiration for my honey apple pie recipe that a share with you today.
My Grandmother’s Honey Apple Pie
2 ½ cups flour of choice
2 tsp granulated sugar or sugar substitute (I use stevia)
1 cup butter (cut into pieces)
6 tbsp water
(if you are on a time crunch, purchase already made pie crust, most of them are still delicious)
Mix dry ingredients and put into food processor. Add butter and water a little at a time until dough forms. Divide evenly into 2 mounds. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour. Rollout out dough on a floured surface until approximately 12” or enough to cover your pie pan. Place first piece in bottom of pie pan. Fill with pie filling.
4 apples, sliced thin and skinned (I prefer granny smith apples)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, softened
¾ cup Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey
1/2 cup brown or coconut sugar
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together except for apples. Once well mixed (butter will be lumpy), fold in apples. Place mixture into pie crust. Add 2nd pie crust on top and make slits for venting. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 mins or until apples are nice and tender.
I love my family’s traditional recipes, but once my conversion was complete I wanted to create my own twists on Jewish food to pass down to my future generations. That is what led me to create this caramel honey apple cake. The idea of adding my own twist to the traditional honey cake layered with apples and caramel to highlight the hope that my family and I will have a year that is only filled with good and sweet things.
Adaptations of recipes make me really think about the idea behind the holidays that we are celebrating. It is about taking ourselves and thinking about ways in which we can adapt and change in the year to come. The same way that I have adapted traditional recipes into something new.
New, but still not forgetting the tradition and foundation that brought me here to this day. This is how I honor my grandmother this fall and holiday season. May all of our years be filled with sweetness just as this sweet holiday treats.
Caramel Honey Apple Cake
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ TB butter (melted) or vegetable oil
2/3 cup honey
½ cup milk (non-dairy replacement works just as well)
2 apples, sliced and skinned (I prefer granny smith apples)
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup brown or coconut sugar
1 cup extremely hot or boiling water
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, butter, honey and milk together. Place in greased 9 x 9 baking dish. Lay apples sideways on top of batter. Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top. Add hot water. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
April Miller is the wife of Temple of Aaron Rabbi Micah Miller.