Somewhere between Victorian Bakes and Cream Buns, I feel myself dozing off. In my feverish slumber, I swear Mary Berry is speaking directly to me. Sporting a smart cropped jacket in a floral print, Mary tells me my pie pastry is over baked but not burnt. “But what about the flake, Mary? Does it have a good flake?” I ask. Mary tastes the tiniest forkful of pie and says, “I don’t like it.”
Fortified by Advil Cold and Sinus and an herbal cough suppressant from a not-so-nearby Alpine village, I return to work. In my absence there have been rumblings about next week’s High Holiday. I pretend not to acknowledge a customer inquiry about a Rosh Hashanah order. Believe me, there’s no rush. Temperatures in the high 80s speak summer to me. Likewise, the basket of clean-shaven nectarines on my kitchen counter and the pint of raspberries in my fridge.
The date I’ve scribbled in black Sharpie marker on a clear Cambro container speaks volumes; we are barely a week shy of October. It is impossible not to acknowledge four wooden crates overflowing with apples. Stacked impatiently in the corner, they await their tube pan fate.
I am momentarily interrupted by a phone inquiry pertaining to the upcoming High Holidays, or what we refer to on the Hebrew calendar as the Year 5777. One of my people wants to know why I can’t make the Jewish apple cake gluten free.
I’ll tell you why; because I don’t want to. Because Jewish apple cake, I love you just the way you are. Perfectly agreeable with coffee or tea, chock full of apples, fragrant with cinnamon and a splash of orange juice, there’s no reason to change a thing.
Because it is the Jewish apple cake plucked from my grandmother Minnie’s familiar green recipe file. Despite a diet rich with gluten and daily cups of coffee enriched with cream, Mama Min lived to be 92 years old. Come to think of it, my grandfather Milton also enjoyed his fair share of gluten until his passing, also at the age of 92.
The woman on the phone assures me that she doesn’t ‘need’ a gluten free Rosh Hashanah dessert because “no one has celiac or anything like that…”
She orders the apple cake. If it’s well received maybe, just maybe, I’ll move on to the next round; Yom Kippur.