The Shabbat Table: Delicious and healthy holiday desserts

Shabbat Shalom. If you’re gearing up for the High Holidays and you want to try something new, this week’s Shabbat Table features some dessert recipes that are a little less decadent than the usual holiday fare, including a low-fat fruit flan, pears poached in wine and a vegan Rosh Hashanah cake.

This week’s Millennial Spotlight is on Hannah Kaminsky, a food blogger and author who specializes in vegan recipes. We also note some food-related events you won’t want to miss.

Minca’s Fruit Flan

Fruit flan (Shirley Simha photo)

This flan is a low-calorie recipe that was given to me by my good friend, Shirley (Rand) Simha, a former Montrealer who now lives in Memphis. We met in graduate school at Yeshiva University in New York, where we were enrolled at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Simha often makes this cake, a recipe passed on to her by her late mother, Minca Rand, who was a fantastic cook. The recipe calls for apricot and kiwi slices, but 500 ml (2 cups) of any sliced fruit or berries can be substituted for the topping.



Cake batter

  • 1 egg
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) oil
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) orange juice or milk
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) sugar
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) lemon juice
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) flour
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) baking powder


  • 500 ml (2 cups) apricot and kiwi slices, or other fruit
  • 15-30 ml (1-2 tbsp) sugar, for sprinkling


  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) apricot jam
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) water
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) Grand Marnier (optional)

Preheat oven to 160 C (325 F). Prepare a 21.5- to 23-cm (8.5- to 9-inch) round pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer mixer, combine the egg, oil, orange juice or milk, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. While those ingredients are mixing, sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the batter in the mixer.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Arrange the fruit slices on top and sprinkle with 15-30 ml (1-2 tbsp) sugar. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Prepare the glaze a few minutes after removing cake from the oven by heating the jam in a saucepan over medium heat until it melts and becomes liquid.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour the jam through a strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Add the liqueur if you are using it. Let the glaze cool until it is slightly warm. Once the cake has cooled, about 15 minutes, brush the top with prepared glaze, coating it well.

Maple-Wine Poached Pears

Poached Pears (Linda Pugliese photo)

This recipe comes from Little Book of Jewish Sweets by Leah Koenig. In the summer, I tasted poached pears at an event. The pairs looked stunning and tasted great, so I was thrilled when I saw this recipe in Koenig’s book. This elegant dessert would be a terrific way to end a holiday meal. Koenig suggests serving the pears garnished with thick chocolate curls made by running a vegetable peeler along a bar of bittersweet baking chocolate. For a dairy meal, the fruit can be paired with ice-cream or topped with whipped cream.

  • 500 ml (2 cups) dry red wine
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) whole cloves
  • 6 ripe, firm Bosc pears, peeled, with stems intact

Use a vegetable peeler to peel two long, wide strips of zest from the orange and add the strips to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Halve and juice the orange and add the juice to the pan, along with the wine, water, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add the pears (they will not be fully submerged in the liquid), turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, turning the pears occasionally to ensure even colouring as they soak up the liquid, until they are tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, about 25-35 minutes. Remove the pears from the heat and let them cool completely in the liquid, turning occasionally, then remove and discard the orange peel, cinnamon sticks and cloves.

Cover and refrigerate the pears for at least 4 hours, or up to 3 days. (The longer they sit, the more the flavour of the poaching liquid will permeate the pears.)

Serve the pears chilled. If desired, just before serving, add 250 ml (1 cup) of the poaching liquid to a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens into a syrup, 5-10 minutes. Drizzle the syrup over the pears. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 1 week. Makes 6 servings.

Millennial spotlight

Hannah Kaminsky

This week’s spotlight is on Hannah Kaminsky, a food blogger and author based in Oakland. Kaminsky, 30, specializes in vegan recipes. Her new cookbook, Sweet Vegan Treats, will be released in October.

Rosh Hashanah Cake

  • 500 ml (2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) canola oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) amber agave nectar
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
  • 250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened applesauce
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) apple cider vinegar
  • 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) orange blossom water
Rosh Hashana Cake (Hannah Kaminsky photo)

Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F) and lightly grease a 23 x 12-cm (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan.

Sift together both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. In a separate dish, measure out the oil, agave, applesauce, vanilla, vinegar and orange blossom water, whisking thoroughly to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir the mixture together using as few strokes as possible to prevent over mixing.

Once the batter is smooth and no pockets of wet or dry ingredients remain, pour it into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. Since agave causes baked goods to brown much faster than sugar, cover your pan after it’s been in the oven for about 35 minutes to prevent it from becoming too dark.

When it’s done, a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Let it cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Upcoming community food events

Support sustainability (Sept. 17, 19, 24) with Shoresh

Shoresh, the Jewish environment organization, will be selling eco-friendly products for Rosh Hashanah, including Bela’s Bees Pure Honey, beeswax candles and Rosh Hashanah tribute cards, at various locations throughout Toronto.

Downtown: Miles Nadal JCC lobby, Sept. 17, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-7 p.m.

Uptown: Lipa Green Centre lobby (4600 Bathurst St.), Sept. 19, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Midtown: 132 Cedric Ave., Sept. 24, 4-8 p.m.

Cookbook launch

Daniella Silver launches Variations, her third cookbook, at the Warehouse (35 Carl Hall Rd. #2) at 7:30 p.m. on Sept 18.

Shabbat pot-luck dinner in Christie Pits Park

An evening of soulful prayer, delicious food and community spirit in Christie Pits on Sept. 20. Services at 6 p.m., potluck dinner at 7 p.m.

Bring a vegetarian dish to share, which you’ll place on one of three tables:

  1. food prepared in a strictly kosher kitchen;
  2. food prepared in a totally vegetarian kitchen; or
  3. food prepared in a kitchen that isn’t strictly kosher or totally vegetarian