Break-the-Fast

Banana Spice Cake

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Break-the-Fast desserts aren't typically gooey or loaded with sugar or dripping with icing. This is the time for lighter treats. Babka and Zimsterne cookies rather than chocolate cake with caramel sauce. 

So I made banana cake for the upcoming holiday.

To go with the rugelach, mandel bread and butter cookies

This version is moist and gently spicy to give it a hint of autumn. It's also rich and sweet without being heavy and cloying.

Freezable too. 

Banana Yogurt Spice Cake

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a (10-inch) 8-cup bundt pan. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract and beat for one minute or until thoroughly blended. Add the bananas and yogurt and mix for 1-2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix until the batter is thoroughly blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes 12-16 servings

 

Our Favorite Cookies

Aunt Fanny's Cookies

Aunt Fanny's Cookies

It wouldn't be my house if there weren't some of these in the freezer for the holidays. During Rosh Hashanah and of course, for my Break-the-Fast. These are my Mom's famous butter cookies. They are probably the most-loved, most-baked cookies in my (and once, my Mom's) repertoire.

When I was growing up I didn't know they were butter cookies because my Mom made them with shortening. After I got interested in cooking I asked her why she called them butter cookies and she explained that during WWII she couldn't get butter, but everyone wanted the cookies, and so -- 

We tried them with real butter and never looked back. Except for when I need something dairy-free, and then, of course, I go back to the shortening. These cookies are fabulous, either way, though, to confess, I like the butter ones much better.

Here they are, fresh from the oven.

In our family we never actually called them butter cookies, not because of the shortening but because the recipe came from my father's Aunt Fanny. So everyone in the family called them Fanny's (recipe), which is scrawled out as "Fannies" in all the old family recipe collections.

I don't know if anyone in my family is named for Aunt Fanny, but these cookies give her kind of the same immortality.

Fannies

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, cut into chunks (or one cup cold shortening)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • lekvar, jam, nut butter, etc.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat them in an electric mixer set at medium speed for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix another 1-2 minutes, or until the ingredients are almost blended. Add the egg yolks, salt and vanilla extract. Mix the ingredients 1-2 minutes, or until a uniform dough forms. Scoop pieces of dough and shape them into balls about 1" in diameter. Flatten the balls between your palms. Press each circle with your thumb to make an indentation in the center. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet, leaving an inch of space between them. Fill the thumb print spaces with a small amount of lekvar, jam, etc. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. You can freeze these cookies for 6 months.

Makes about 60

 

 

Spinach Feta Cheese Pie

Several couples I know, fellow food-bloggers, have recently had babies, one just a day or so before Mother’s Day. I’m sure their families and the friends who live close by to them will lend a hand. Life is always so hectic and emotional after a baby is born and new moms and dads can always use extra help.  In our family we have tried to anticipate a birth by a few weeks and get together to cook foods that can be packed into containers and stored in the freezer, so that cooking dinner won’t be another something to do during the first week or so after the baby is born when everyone is tired.  We’ve made  carrot soup  and something we call  "green soup"  because most of the time — but not all — we use dried green split peas and the liquid part looks sort of green. We’ve cooked  baked ziti  and our famous, family, tried-and-true  butter cookies . And more.  But the favorite is always Spinach Pie. We make a dairy version with feta cheese and a non-dairy version using sauteed mushrooms. This dish freezes well, it’s easy to defrost and pop into the oven (we freeze the pies before baking them). Spinach pie is suitable for lunch or dinner or even as a side dish.  If someone in your life has had a baby recently, why not give them a break and cook some food for them?  Here’s the family Spinach Pie recipe, dairy version:        SPINACH FETA CHEESE PIE      2 10-ounce packages frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed  2 tablespoons olive oil  1 medium onion, chopped  3 large eggs  8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled  6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese  1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill  freshly ground black pepper to taste  4 sheets phyllo dough  2 tablespoons butter, melted  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the eggs, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, dill and pepper. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Top with 4 layers of phyllo dough each brushed with melted butter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes 4-8 servings (as main course or side dish)

Several couples I know, fellow food-bloggers, have recently had babies, one just a day or so before Mother’s Day. I’m sure their families and the friends who live close by to them will lend a hand. Life is always so hectic and emotional after a baby is born and new moms and dads can always use extra help.

In our family we have tried to anticipate a birth by a few weeks and get together to cook foods that can be packed into containers and stored in the freezer, so that cooking dinner won’t be another something to do during the first week or so after the baby is born when everyone is tired.

We’ve made carrot soup and something we call "green soup" because most of the time — but not all — we use dried green split peas and the liquid part looks sort of green. We’ve cooked baked ziti and our famous, family, tried-and-true butter cookies. And more.

But the favorite is always Spinach Pie. We make a dairy version with feta cheese and a non-dairy version using sauteed mushrooms. This dish freezes well, it’s easy to defrost and pop into the oven (we freeze the pies before baking them). Spinach pie is suitable for lunch or dinner or even as a side dish.

If someone in your life has had a baby recently, why not give them a break and cook some food for them?

Here’s the family Spinach Pie recipe, dairy version:  

 

SPINACH FETA CHEESE PIE

 

2 10-ounce packages frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large eggs

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 sheets phyllo dough

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the eggs, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, dill and pepper. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Top with 4 layers of phyllo dough each brushed with melted butter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4-8 servings (as main course or side dish)

Another Plum Torte

Another recipe for Plum Torte?  Yeah. Why not?!   Because it’s one of the best of the best cakes to eat. No, don’t say you like chocolate cake or coconut cake better. Plum Torte serves an entirely different purpose. You can’t compare it to any other cake. It’s its own thing.  I have no idea why Plum Torte is a typical Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast dessert. Maybe it’s because those lovely little Italian prune plums needed for the recipe are in season at about the same time as the Jewish High Holidays. All I know is that this was one of THE desserts for the holidays even when I was a little girl.  There are dozens of recipes for it. Plum Torte is one of those recipes like apple pie. Everyone who bakes one does a little something different. The New York Times used to print their tried-and-true recipe every September. I’ve made that one and it is quite good. This one is even better. I just made two to freeze and reheat for my annual Break-the-Fast Saturday night:   Plum Torte   1/2 cup unsalted butter  3/4 cup plus one tablespoon sugar  1 cup all-purpose flour  1 teaspoon baking powder  1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel  1/4 teaspoon salt  2 large eggs  15 prune plums, pit removed, quartered  lemon juice (about one tablespoon)  cinnamon (about 1/4 teaspoon)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until creamy and well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, lemon peel and salt and mix briefly to blend ingredients slightly. Add the eggs and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange the plum quarters on top, pressing them slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining tablespoon sugar. Squeeze some lemon juice over the cake and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until browned, set and crispy. Let cool. Makes 8 servings

Another recipe for Plum Torte?

Yeah. Why not?! 

Because it’s one of the best of the best cakes to eat. No, don’t say you like chocolate cake or coconut cake better. Plum Torte serves an entirely different purpose. You can’t compare it to any other cake. It’s its own thing.

I have no idea why Plum Torte is a typical Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast dessert. Maybe it’s because those lovely little Italian prune plums needed for the recipe are in season at about the same time as the Jewish High Holidays. All I know is that this was one of THE desserts for the holidays even when I was a little girl.

There are dozens of recipes for it. Plum Torte is one of those recipes like apple pie. Everyone who bakes one does a little something different. The New York Times used to print their tried-and-true recipe every September. I’ve made that one and it is quite good. This one is even better. I just made two to freeze and reheat for my annual Break-the-Fast Saturday night:

Plum Torte

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup plus one tablespoon sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

15 prune plums, pit removed, quartered

lemon juice (about one tablespoon)

cinnamon (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until creamy and well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, lemon peel and salt and mix briefly to blend ingredients slightly. Add the eggs and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange the plum quarters on top, pressing them slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining tablespoon sugar. Squeeze some lemon juice over the cake and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until browned, set and crispy. Let cool. Makes 8 servings

Lily Vail’s Famous and Wonderful Apple Crisp

Soup’s done, turkey’s ready to roast, challah is baking (and the house smells too wonderful to leave, so I’m not going to). Vegetables washed and trimmed, prepared for cooking. Sweet potato casserole finished. It’s holiday time. Festive dinner, candles, apple slices and honey. 
 Dessert of course. 
 What? 
 My mother’s famous Apple Crisp. She used to make it every autumn. It was one of my Dad’s favorites and I like to make it for the Jewish holidays because it brings back such wonderful memories of my parents. I miss them both. 
 My Mom made her Apple Crisp with Raisin Bran but yesterday, when I shopped for the dinner, I bought Oat Bran flakes and used them instead. Guess what? 
 It was as delicious as ever. 
 Here’s the recipe. Make it anytime you want something especially delicious for dessert. Maybe too late for Rosh Hashanah, but definitely perfect for a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast or, even better, for Sukkot. 
 Lily Vail’s Famous and Wonderful Apple Crisp 
 5-6 tart apples, peeled and sliced 
 1/4 cup sugar or honey 
 2 tablespoons melted butter 
 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
 1/4 teaspoon salt 
 3 tablespoons butter 
 1/3 cup sugar 
 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
 2 cups raisin bran or oat bran flakes 
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the apple slices in a baking dish. Add the 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, cinnamon and salt and toss the ingredients to mix them completely and coat the apples with the seasonings. In a mixer bowl beat the butter, 1/3 cup sugar and flour together until well blended. Add the cereal and stir until the mixture looks like crumbles. Scatter the crumbles over the apples. Cover the pan with foil or a lid. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for about 15 minutes or until the apples are tender and the top is golden brown and crispy. Best when still warm. Makes 6 servings

Soup’s done, turkey’s ready to roast, challah is baking (and the house smells too wonderful to leave, so I’m not going to). Vegetables washed and trimmed, prepared for cooking. Sweet potato casserole finished. It’s holiday time. Festive dinner, candles, apple slices and honey.

Dessert of course.

What?

My mother’s famous Apple Crisp. She used to make it every autumn. It was one of my Dad’s favorites and I like to make it for the Jewish holidays because it brings back such wonderful memories of my parents. I miss them both.

My Mom made her Apple Crisp with Raisin Bran but yesterday, when I shopped for the dinner, I bought Oat Bran flakes and used them instead. Guess what?

It was as delicious as ever.

Here’s the recipe. Make it anytime you want something especially delicious for dessert. Maybe too late for Rosh Hashanah, but definitely perfect for a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast or, even better, for Sukkot.

Lily Vail’s Famous and Wonderful Apple Crisp

5-6 tart apples, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup sugar or honey

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups raisin bran or oat bran flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the apple slices in a baking dish. Add the 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, cinnamon and salt and toss the ingredients to mix them completely and coat the apples with the seasonings. In a mixer bowl beat the butter, 1/3 cup sugar and flour together until well blended. Add the cereal and stir until the mixture looks like crumbles. Scatter the crumbles over the apples. Cover the pan with foil or a lid. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for about 15 minutes or until the apples are tender and the top is golden brown and crispy. Best when still warm. Makes 6 servings