The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is fast approaching. The holiday, which lasts two days, starting at sundown on September 29, is a festive occasion, as most New Year celebrations tend to be. After all, for most of us, the start of a new year is the chance to go after our goals, dreams, and ambitions on the best note possible.

Rosh Hashanah is about doing that, with primarily sweet food served to announce a sweet year of blessings and abundance. Many Jews will mark the occasion with a holiday dinner for friends and family. The foods on the table are richly symbolic and meaningful. Whether you’re hosting or attending a supper, check out Zomick’s bakery guide to Rosh Hashanah foods.

One of the best times to be exploring Jewish cuisine is now when the food-centric Jewish holidays are just around the corner. The Rosh Hashanah meals are particularly fun. They feature sweet-flavored foods to symbolize the cycle of life and our hope for a “sweet” new beginning, and none of the traditional Jewish New Year foods are more beloved than the Challah bread.

For example, the traditional Jewish Sabbath bread, challah, is usually oval-shaped. But on Rosh Hashanah, we serve round challah to symbolize the never-ending cycle of years and seasons. This symbolizes the cyclical nature of one year drawing to a close and another beginning. Also, Rosh Hashanah challah is traditionally dotted with raisins and served alongside apples; both are dipped in honey to signify our hope for a sweet new year.

The round challahs have no end, symbolizing our wish for a year in which life and blessings continue without end. There are many ways to make a round challah. You can choose any braiding technique you like. There are several easy braiding methods, including a simple 3-strand or 4-strand braid, or a Linked Loops braid for a round Rosh Hashanah challah.

For an introduction to the basic braiding techniques, read Zomick’s Challah recipes. Apple Honey Challah is one of the most popular Zomick’s challah recipes. This beautiful braided challah is sweetened with honey and stuffed with tender apple pieces. You can sweeten it further by topping it with butter if you’re so inclined.

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