As the mother of a young child, I have the privilege of sharing my days with someone who starts fresh at least once a day—twice if you count after nap as the new era that it often seems. The other thing about toddlers is their hopeful interest in sweetness. “Leo,” I’ll ask, “Do you want to help make honey cake?” “I want two cakes!” he’ll say opportunistically, “two big cakes!” So when I explain that Rosh Hashanah is a time to forgive and start anew with wishes for sweetness to come, I think he basically gets it.
This holiday I look forward to inducting Leo into the ancient rite of dipping apples in honey. But why stop there? Make honey cake—better yet, make two big honey cakes!—to eat with applesauce, then try these five other tasty ways to celebrate with apples and honey: Honey-Baked Chicken with Tangy Apple, Apples with Creamy Honey Dip, Green Apple Soda, Apple & Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, and Honey-Baked Apples.
(Note: check with your pediatrician, but honey is generally not recomended for babies under the age of one.)
Honey-Baked Chicken with Tangy Apple
A drizzle of honey creates a nice browned skin on this baked chicken. It makes a lovely autumn meal accompanied by challah, a green vegetable and a salad.
Tip: The tart apples, cooked with shallots and mustard, can also be served with other proteins, such as salmon, turkey, or duck.
One 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
2 shallots, sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
1/2 cup chicken broth
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F and arrange a rack in the top third of the oven. In a wide, ovenproof skillet or small (9-by-13-inch) roasting pan, toss the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season them well with salt and pepper. Arrange the pieces skin side up and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the honey over them.
Roast, basting occasionally during the second half of the cooking, until the juices run clear when the thigh or leg is pierced, about 50 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté until the shallots are translucent, 2 minutes. Add the apple slices and sauté until they begin to soften, 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, lemon juice, mustard and remaining tablespoon of honey. Simmer, stirring, until the sauce has thickened and the apples are tender, about 3 more minutes.
3. To serve, transfer the apple mixture to a deep platter and arrange the chicken on top.
This is a perfect recipe to make with the very youngest of cooks.
Tip: A sprinkle of ground cinnamon is a nice garnish if you like.
Makes ¼ cup dip
¼ cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
Tart sliced apples, for serving
In a bowl, blend the yogurt with the honey. Serve as a dip with apple slices.
If you have a juicer, simply juice the apple and add the remaining ingredients. Otherwise, you’ll need cheesecloth to strain the juice.
Tip: If you need to make this soda truly green for some reason—say, you’ve inadvertently given your toddler unrealistic expectations—a drop each of blue and yellow food coloring will do for the whole batch.
Makes 4 sodas
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored
3 tablespoons honey, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1 liter seltzer
Apple slices, for garnish (optional)
1. In a food processor, puree the apple, honey, lemon juice and water. To strain, squeeze through several layers of cheese cloth into a bowl (you should end up with about a cup of apple juice).
2. For each soda, fill a glass with seltzer and ice and stir in about ¼ cup of the apple mixture. Sweeten with additional honey if desired.
Apple & Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
This is a slightly sweet, tender sandwich bread with a crisp crust. It’s perfect with a sharp cheese or a schmear of cream cheese or nut butter.
Tip: Measure out the oil in a glass measuring cup, then measure the honey in the same cup—the residual oil ensures that all the honey pours out.
Makes 2 loaves
2 packages (2 scant tablespoons) active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup canola oil, plus additional for the bowl and pans
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped dried apple
1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast with ½ cup of the lukewarm water and let sit for a few minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour and the salt.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour along with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water and the honey and oil. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Stir in enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to create a rough dough
4. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes. Knead gently, adding more of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is soft and smooth, about 5 minutes.
5. Lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
6. Lightly oil two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut it in half. Set one piece aside and gently stretch the other half into a rectangle (about 8-by-12 inches). Scatter half the dried apples over the rectangle.
7. Roll the dough up from a short end like a jelly roll. Tuck the ends of the roll under and place the dough, seam-side down, in an oiled loaf pan. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining dried apples. Cover the pans and let rise until the dough has risen just past the top of the pan, about 30 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425˚. When the loaves are ready, bake them for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350˚. Bake until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35 to 45 minutes more. Tip the loaves out of the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze, double-wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 months.
4 baking apples, such as Cortland, Fuji, Golden Delicious or Rome
8 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups yogurt or ice cream, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375˚. Use a melon baller to scoop the cores and stems out of each apple, keeping the base of the apple intact. Peel a strip of skin from around the top of each cavity.
2. Place the apples in a buttered baking dish that is small enough to hold them snugly (a loaf pan holds 2 or 3 apples, a small pie plate holds 3 or 4) and fill each cavity with 2 teaspoons honey and 1 teaspoon each butter and lemon juice.
3. Bake for 25 minutes, then cover with foil and continue baking until tender, 10 to 20 minutes more.
4. Transfer the apples to shallow bowls for serving and drizzle with some of the juice from the baking dish. Alternatively, to make a caramel-like dessert sauce, pour the juices into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to a syrup; drizzle over the apples. Serve warm, with yogurt or ice cream if desired.