September is the month when I notice that the sun is a bit lower in the sky and more golden in hue. It’s a transition month from the bright hot colors of summer to the warm, earth tones of fall. September is when I notice that the sun rises a little later and sets a little earlier. It’s the month when we start shifting our lives from outdoors to inside. September is the start of school and the end of our outdoor pool. It’s the month when we start eating apples and pears rather than peaches and plums. And it’s the month that filled with many of my life’s changes.
September is when I transitioned careers. It was the month I left my old work life and started my new. September is the month of birthdays. It is the month of my dad’s, mine and many of my friends’ birthdays. September is the month of holidays. It is the month the New Year, Rosh Hashanah. September is the month of change.
My dad was born in September and the 4th, today would have been his 84th birthday. Amazing to think that not only has he been gone for 15 years, but that he would have been 84.
And the 10th is my birthday and I am hitting a milestone birthday — a number that seems unreal to me as well, 55. Yup admitting it, 55 though in my head I’m still 35 lol! Dad hated birthdays. He hated to be told that he had to celebrate a specific date. He would always tell me “I’m not getting you a gift just because it’s your birthday you’ll get one when I want to give you one.” He meant that, gifts were not for birthdays, they were for when he felt like giving them to me or mom; and that was ok for me. He was generous to a fault — all mom and I had to do was say we liked something and at some point it was ours; but never because it was a birthday. He and I would celebrate at grandma’s over a Strawberry Shortcake from Gertels, the famed Lower Eastside Jewish bakery. I never had the heart to tell her that I hated their Strawberry Shortcake and so did dad, but we ate it, smiled and made her feel like she was getting us our favorite dessert in the universe. It was pareve, aka non-dairy, and overly sweet, but our eating it put a smile on her face more than ours.
Some birthdays stand out more than others and 2 of my milestone birthdays that stand out were my 16th and 50th. My 16th was not the traditional large scale sweet 16 as many of my classmates had; mine was more subdued, a family affair but at my favorite restaurant, The Four Seasons. We stopped by my grandparents first so they could see my dress which was a beautiful Bill Blass white organza cocktail dress that dad got me. I can still remember that day. It was the year that our apartment was destroyed in a fire — big change! My dad had put aside a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem 1967 for this special occasion but sadly it was destroyed in the fire. Luckily he had a friend who had one and gifted it to us unbeknownst to me. Yes I was 16 and yes I drank wine at dinner — times were different no judgements please! Remember I grew up in the wine industry! Flash forward a few years to 2015 and my 50th. Same restaurant, this time with my close circle of girlfriends, great wine and same cake. I look the same right!
September is the month of change. It’s the month of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and boy can we all use a new year! As with so many holidays no matter what the religion, we celebrate with food, wine, family and friends. The table will be filled with apples and honey, honey cake, challah with raisins all to celebrate the sweet year to come. I think we can all agree that thus far 2020 has been a challenging year.
Here’s the recipe for my honey cake — and of course I used what was in my pantry — traditional is with almonds, but I had walnuts.
- 1 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for the pan
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup honey
- ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest (2 oranges)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup hot coffee
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
- ¼ cup bourbon, Maker’s Mark is my fave
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup bourbon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-inch bundt pan with with oil, line the bottom with parchment paper, then oil and flour the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,(or a hand mixer) mix the oil, granulated sugar, honey, brown sugar, eggs, orange zest, and vanilla on medium speed for one minute. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, allspice, and ginger and blend. Combine the coffee, orange juice, and bourbon in a bowl. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and liquid mixtures to the oil-sugar mixture in thirds, beginning and ending with flour, until combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Don’t worry; the batter will be very liquid!
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan to get rid of any bubbles in the batter. Sprinkle the top with the walnuts. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely, then remove from the pan and place almond side up on a flat serving plate. Make the glaze, by melting the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; stir in sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in bourbon. Drizzle over the cake let soak in and serve!
As we start the month of reflection about the New Year to come, let’s embrace the change. Enjoy the golden hues and earth tones. Embrace the change to come. September is the month of change!