In the Jewish tradition, honey cake is served at special occasions, whether formal holidays or not, and is especially beloved in the Ashkenazi Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) repetoire. As we know, strict vegans don’t use honey (though some who do use carefully sourced honey are called “bee-gans”). To make this vegan honey cake just as sweet as the original, agave nectar and/or maple syrup combine to create an authentic flavor.
As with almost every sacred celebration, food plays a central role to the Jewish New Year and is filled with symbolism. When making the challah bread for the holiday, for example, the baker might pinch off a bit of dough and burn it in the oven as a metaphoric sacrifice. Carrot dishes served at Rosh Hashanah symbolize a wish for prosperity in the coming year — the Yiddish word for carrots means “to increase.”
But Rosh Hashana is more than a New Year celebration — in a sense, it can be compared to the true meaning of Thanksgiving. The holiday has ancient roots as a harvest festival, and enjoyment of the abundant produce of early autumn remains central.
The foods served emphasize the holiday’s optimistic spirit. The choice of produce used for a Jewish New Year meal will differ somewhat depending on whether one is of Ashkenazi or Sephardic descent. Ashkenazi dishes feature apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets and other foods native to Eastern Europe; Sephardic dishes feature all those plus apricots, dates, pumpkins, and turnips. In both cases, the food used to create holiday fare symbolize abundance, prosperity, and sweetness.
Sliced apples with honey to dip them into is another holiday tradition, so if you’re a honey-free vegan, you can serve the apples with maple syrup, agave, or a combination of the two. And to extend the theme of sweetness, serve this traditional treat with this delicious vegan honey cake.
Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 177 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 180mg Carbohydrates: 28g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 11g Protein: 4g
Photos: Susan Voisin, FatFreeVegan.com