Sweets for a holiday brunch

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I have fond (pre-COVID) memories of a dear friend who hosted an open house brunch every year on Rosh Hashanah for friends and fellow members of his synagogue.

The idea was that he loved to celebrate the holiday with friends, but most people were booked for dinner with family, parents, in-laws, etc., as was he. The brunch gave him a chance to wish his community a happy new year, share fellowship and a nosh, and still keep dinner open for families.


He always put out a wonderful spread of bagels, lox and whitefish salad, along with delicious breakfast pastries. Although we have not had the gathering for the last two years, I will make these treats to symbolize a sweet year to come, and raise a glass to friends and family far and near in hopes that we can all safely gather soon.

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Makes about 12 scones

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Since the holiday falls in early September this year, blueberries are still fresh and local. This is a great way to use them, and the lemon complements them beautifully. If you prefer the scones plain, you can skip the lemon glaze. They are delicious on their own.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones


Heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl; add the butter and beat it with an electric mixer until it resembles coarse crumbs. Then mix in the cream. Gently fold the blueberries and grated lemon rind into the batter. Go easy so as not to break the blueberries.

Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown. Let the scones cool before you apply the glaze.

Lemon Glaze

This glaze is wonderful on the scones, but it is a great recipe for cooks to keep in our back pockets. It can dress up a Bundt cake, a pound cake, or even a store-bought angel food or sponge cake.

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon lemon zest

Mix the lemon juice and sugar until completely blended and the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the butter and lemon zest. If the butter is not blending well, microwave the glaze for 20 seconds, and whisk again until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let the glaze set a few minutes before serving.

 

Date Nut Bread

Makes 1 loaf

This bread is slightly retro; it was everywhere in the 1970s, usually spread with cream cheese. When I taste it now, I wonder why it ever faded in popularity; it’s delicious!

8 ounces dates, chopped
1½ cups boiling water
2 sticks butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
2½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl, mix the dates, boiling water and butter. Let it sit 15 minutes until the butter is melted. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, and add the flour, salt and baking soda.

Add the date mixture to the large bowl, and add the vanilla and nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

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