Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah, otherwise known as the Jewish New Year. It is one of three New Years I celebrate each year, along with the Western January 1st and Tibetan Losar, in February. The more cultures you belong to, the more fresh starts you get, I suppose. It’s kind of nice having multiple opportunities to reflect on the state of my life and eat corresponding celebratory food.
The state of life right now seems to be settling in. I live in France. Okay then. Today I woke up with thunder shaking the woods. It felt grounding. The rains come; the seasons change. I eat granola and drink rooibos tea, bake bread, and write e-mails. I meditate, joke with Lama, reflect on the year to come for and in and with this community.
We answer questionnaires, plan budgets, clarify responsibilities. We get ready for the “réunions d’automne.” Three days of presentations and five days of meetings about what it is we do here and how we plan to do it for the next twelve months. We muse over public relations and gluten-free ingredients. We talk finances and management and teamwork, and then we go out for dinner because it’s been four hours and it’s just that time.
I discover more about this fascinating phenomenon called “being an adult,” where people trust you with organization and autonomy and directing others. I take phone calls about last minute lunch guests and plan menus on the fly. I walk quora around the stupa to make wishes to be more patient and less impulsive, a better listener and less headstrong, to trust change and bring goodness. I make apple honey pudding to nourish all these near-and-oh-so-dear and make manifest the wish that the year to come will be sweet. Go team. Happy (this particular) New Year!
If you’re wondering, apples and honey are a traditional Rosh Hashanah combo, for the healing/nourishing/wish-making properties stated above. Usually, a direct apple slice, honey dunk method is applied, but sometimes you just have to reinvent tradition. In this case, super worth it. This is like the Jewish cousin of sticky toffee pudding. Soft and sticky and melt-in-your mouth. Sweet and earthy with the tiniest bit of tang from the apples. New Year’s food worth celebrating.
Apple Honey Pudding
For the apple layer:
6 teeny tiny or three normal sized apples
1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the pan
2 tablespoons sugar
For the pudding:
1 1/2 cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
8 tablespoons (115 grams) butter, softened
1 cup (240 mL) honey
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup (160 mL) plain yogurt
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F (160˚ C)
In a medium bowl, combine the water and the juice from the lemon half. Slice the apples thin, about a sixteenth of an inch, and stir them into the water. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the apples, with their liquid, and the sugar. Cook on medium-low, stirring, until the water has evaporated out and the apples are soft. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter. Once the butter is fluffy and soft, add in the honey and beat until fully combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add one third of the flour blend. Mix on low until combined. Stir in half the yogurt. Continue mixing alternately, finishing with the final third of flour mix.
Grease a standard loaf pan with butter. Layer the apple slices in the bottom of the pan and partly up the sides until you have used all the slices. Press gently to compact the layers for a more even finish after baking when you turn the pudding out of the mold. Pour in the batter.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out wet but batter free. Let the pudding cool at least 45 minutes to set completely. It will puff up during baking and still be jiggly when it is baked through, but will sink and become more solid after cooling. Also, because honey is more fragile than white sugar, this pudding will brown faster than a typical baked good. Depending on your oven, you may have to cover it in foil partway through baking to avoid over-browning the outside. Don’t worry; it’s worth the trouble. When it is baked and cool, place a long plate or pan on top of the loaf pan. Holding both together, flip the pudding onto the plate or pan. You may have to tap the loaf pan to help the pudding slide free. Eat any apple slices still stuck inside the pan. Share the rest with friends.