By Cheryl Giraud
Special to the Observer
Break-the-Fast Sweet Treat
The setting sun this Friday evening has special meaning to those of the Jewish faith.
Considered the most important holiday on the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur begins at sundown Friday, September 13, and ends after nightfall on Saturday.
Yom Kippur marks the last of the Jewish High Holy days that began with the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah 10 days earlier.
Yom Kippur falls on the 10th day of Tishrei, the seventh month on the Jewish calendar.
Viewed as an intense and solemn day, but happy having made peace with others, the name Yom Kippur means ‘Day of Atonement’ that atones for the sins of the past year with the universal message to make amends.
With a central theme of teshuvah, commonly translated as ‘repentance,’ that offers second chances for previous mistakes, Yom Kippur is the most sacred and widely observed holiday in the Jewish religion.
During this time of focus on personal reflection and soul-searching outlined in the ancient book of Leviticus, on this “Most Awesome Day,” Yom Kippur, with strict restrictions in place, is a time of pause, fasting and prayer that requires refraining from work, food and drink, placing spiritual life above physical needs.
With most of the holiday spent in synagogue beginning on the eve of Yom Kippur with the Kol Nidre, which means ‘all vows,’ and continuing through part of the next day ending after nightfall, before the celebratory ‘break-the-fast,’ the observance means a complete 25-hour fast.
While maintaining the focus on prayer, keeping hunger pangs at bay, in the Jewish tradition, the all-day fast is taken seriously.
Well before on the eve of Yom Kippur when fasting begins after sundown, a traditional Meal of Cessation, called Seudat Mafseket is enjoyed with family and friends.
As the holiday ends on a joyous note the next day after the final early evening Yom Kippur service, the fast is broken with a festive meal, which usually consists of a variety of traditional Jewish fare.
With many culinary traditions in place, after the long period of fasting, it’s best to try to eat on the lighter side, rather than gorging oneself.
Typically reserved for a celebratory brunch, there are many variations of coffee cake that are commonly served at the Yom Kippur table that are often served alongside other breads such as bagels, and main course dishes of eggs, blintzes, kugels and smoked fish.
So, if you are craving something not too sweet that’s not particularly in the realm of traditional Jewish fare, but want to make bubbe happy after the day of repentance, what better way to celebrate break-the-fast than with this easy recipe for this dense-free Sour Cream Coffee Cake that can be prepared the day before the Yom Kippur observance begins.
As always, may the lessons of Yom Kippur observance continue to inspire, cleanse the soul and offer compassion and forgiveness throughout the year.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first three ingredients and set aside. Beat the granulated sugar and butter at medium speed until well blended and light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time and mixing well. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground nutmeg and salt, mixing well with a wisk. Gradually add the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients. Beat until well blended. Grease and flour a 9” square baking pan and add half the mixture into pan. Sprinkle half of the walnut mixture over batter. Spread remaining batter over walnut mixture. Top with remaining walnut mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack.