Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Nisan 23, 5774

Move Over Latkes!

December 5, 2012 By:
Ethel Hofman, JE Feature
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For my mother, Chanu­kah went way beyond latkes. It was her cakes and cookies — rich, buttery, studded with nuts — that upheld her reputation as a generous hostess and superb baker.
 
At our island home, back in a time when doors were never locked, friends and neighbors would drop in unannounced throughout the eight-day Festival of Lights. They were welcomed with a pot of tea, along with a tempting variety of sweets, arranged on white lace doilies on a three-tiered silver cake stand.
 
My mother, Jean Greenwald, spent more than 60 years living in the remote Shetland isles. And she adhered to the Scottish Jewish custom of baking special dairy cakes and cookies for Chanukah. I can still smell the spicy sweet aromas wafting from the warm kitchen when I came home from school on cold winter days.
 
When completely cool, the cakes were wrapped in wax paper, sealed with adhesive tape and, for good measure, tied with string. Cakes and cookies were packed in airtight containers, then stacked on a high shelf in the chilly porch. These were “keepin’ cakes and cookies,” not to be touched before the first Chanukah candle was lit. 
 
This “keepin’-cake-and-cookie” custom fits in admirably well with our busy schedules. On a cold winter’s weekend, organize a family baking session. Young and older will love it.
 
These items are best made ahead. To ensure that the cakes stay moist and airtight, I recommend using plastic wrap rather than wax paper and string, or wrap in wax paper, then double seal tightly with aluminum foil. Store in a cool place, not a warm kitchen.
 
All of these cakes and cookie recipes may be frozen. Remove from freezer about three hours before serving. Slice cakes with a serrated knife. 
 
Glace Cherry Loaf
(Dairy)
Quick tips: Cut cherries into quarters with kitchen scissors and toss with 2 teaspoons flour. Nonstick cooking spray with flour, perfect for baked goods, is now available in supermarkets.
 
1⁄2 cup glace cherries, quartered
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 3⁄4 sticks (7 oz.) butter, softened
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
3 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. allspice or nutmeg
 
Preheat oven to 325˚.
 
Line the bottom of a medium-sized loaf pan (81⁄2 x 41⁄2 x 21⁄2-inch) with wax paper. Spray bottom and sides of pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour. Toss the cherries with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Set aside.
 
In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, along with about 1⁄4 cup of the flour. Mix well. Add the baking powder, allspice or nutmeg and the remaining flour, gradually, mixing well to blend. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the cherries.
 
Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with a spoon. Bake for 1 hour or until risen, golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.
 
Serves 10 to 12.
 
Nutty Chocolate Nuggets
(Dairy)
 
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. orange extract
1⁄4 cup chopped semisweet chocolate or 1⁄3 cup chocolate chips, melted
1⁄4 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts
36 walnut halves
 
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar till blended (mixture will be crumbly). Add the egg, orange extract, melted chocolate, milk and 1⁄4 cup of the flour. Beat well.
 
Add the baking powder and gradually add the remaining flour, beating well between each addition. Stir in the chopped nuts.
 
Cover with plastic wrap and chill 3 hours or overnight.
 
To bake: Preheat oven to 375˚. Spray 2 large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
 
Pinch off pieces of dough, about 1-inch in size. Place on prepared cookie sheets about 1-inch apart. Press a walnut half onto each piece.
 
Bake for oven 18 to 20 minutes. Cookies should be pale brown and still soft in center. They firm up as they cool. Cool on a wire tray. Store in a tight lidded container with wax paper between layers. 
 
Makes about 36 nuggets.
 
Chanukah Bundt Cake
(Dairy)
I bake two of these cakes to last through Chanukah. They’re rich with butter and cream cheese so slice thinly. Perfect with morning coffee or toasted and topped with fruit.
 
1 stick (4 oz.) butter at room temperature
9 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 and 1⁄2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups cake flour
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 tsps. baking powder
1 and 1⁄2 Tbsps. grated lime rind
powdered sugar
 
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
 
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time with 2 tablespoons of the flour to prevent curdling. Beat well after each addition.
 
Add the vanilla, baking powder and remaining flour, 1⁄2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lime rind.
 
Spoon batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 to 7 minutes in pan before placing on wire rack to cool. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
 
Serves 15 to 18.
 
Coconut Cake
(Dairy)
 
1 and 1⁄2 sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsps. sugar
3 large eggs
1 and 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1⁄4 tsps. baking powder
pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded coconut
 
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray an 8-inch cake pan or an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
 
Cut the butter into pieces. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, along with one tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
Fold in the remaining flour, baking powder, nutmeg and coconut. Transfer to prepared cake tin or baking dish.
 
Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely. Cut in thin wedges or squares to serve.
 
Serves 10 to 12.
 
Caraway Seed Cake
(Dairy)
In Scotland, pungent caraway seeds are a popular flavoring for cakes and cookies.
 
3⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 and 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 and 1⁄2 tsps. baking powder
2 Tbsps. caraway seeds
 
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a round 11⁄2-quart ovenproof souffle dish or 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
 
In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, with a little flour to prevent curdling. Add the orange juice and mix well. Add remaining flour and baking powder, about 1⁄4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the caraway seeds.
 
Turn into prepared cake pan, smoothing top with a spoon. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Loosen edges with a round bladed knife before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
 
Serves 10 to 12.

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