Tonight begins the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are the traditional foods, symbolizing a sweet new year. Our family is not observant -- actually not religious in the slightest! --but I try to celebrate the traditions of my mother-in-law and her family with my young son. He is an easy mark on Rosh Hashanah -- what 3 year old wouldn't want to dip apples into honey as a snack? As a gardener, I also gravitate to a new year celebration tied to the autumn harvest....it seems more in keeping with nature's cycles than the usual January gloom of the secular celebration.
Round challah bread is traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah as well, symbolizing the cycle of the year. I am making this recipe from Martha Stewart tonight-- it will get a second rise in the refrigerator while we sleep and tomorrow will it bake up into a gorgeously round loaf. The recipe gives a delicious twist on the traditional challah by incorporating apples directly into the dough. The resulting bread is eggy and rich, but not cloying. It is a comforting way to start this new year...and may these coming months as good and sweet as the bread.