Before moving to New Orleans, I worked in a predominantly Jewish community where I was creating and learning about traditional desserts for many religious celebrations.
So when we were planning our Rosh Hashanah meal at Shaya, where I work as a pastry chef, we thought that the best way to end the meal would be a blessing for the new year. Although apples are the most-ubiquitous Rosh Hashanah food, we immediately turned to carrots, a symbol of the hope for plenty in the new year, and carrot cake. But we wanted to put our own unconventional spin on that nostalgic, classic dessert.
We used the traditional spices but tweaked the recipe by incorporating very high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and fresh pineapple to add moisture and flavor to the warm spices. The resulting cake is super tender, with the acidity of the pineapple shining through in each bite.
To finish off the cake, which is delicious to eat alone, we shied away from the iconic cream cheese frosting and decided to showcase a favorite ingredient for us: sesame. This sesame buttercream is a super simple recipe (and can easily be made pareve by simply substituting margarine and soy milk for the dairy products).
For the assembly of this cake, we like to keep it old-school and serve it as a sheet cake, but that's all up to your personal preference. The batter can be baked in round cake pans, a bundt or loaf pan, or even cupcakes. The cake can be stacked and filled or simply served in unfrosted slices with a dusting of confectioners' sugar or a drizzle of sesame glaze (to make this glaze, simply melt the frosting over a low heat, whisking until smooth).
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups grated carrots (from 3 to 5 carrots)
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, finely minced (crusted) and the juice (from 1/2 pineapple)
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
For the sesame buttercream:
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup tahini
What's your favorite dessert on the Rosh Hashanah table? Tell us in the comments below!