On a cool September morning in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a line spills outside of Edith’s, stretching down Greenpoint Avenue toward the East River. It’s barely 10 a.m., but that’s no matter: Hungry Brooklynites have heard the rumblings of a novel Jewish delicatessen pop-up, helmed by pastry chef Caroline Schiff and food industry professional Elyssa Heller. Here, hand-twisted bagels resembling rippled braids are shepherded out of a wood-burning oven, jammed with eggs, cheese, and crispy latkes. There’s house-smoked salmon, heirloom tomatoes, and cultured cream cheese, and smoked trout salad, dotted with golden whitefish roe.
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Edith’s has only been open for a few weeks, but word has quickly spread of the elusive sourdough bagels, the salted caramel challah knots sticky with whey caramel and sea salt, the chocolate sesame twists fused by two kinds of chocolate and painted with tahini glaze. But even in a town run by bagels and Jewish delis, Edith’s stands out.
Jewish delis, after all, are synonymous with the New York culinary paradigm—a city that’s home to the old-fashioned, nearly extinct delis teeming with pastrami sandwiches on rye and cups of matzo ball soup speckled with dill—but these spaces have long been reserved for the familiar, the nostalgia often associated with traditional comfort food.
Yet Edith’s is inherently different. Prompted by the uncovering of her great-aunt’s Edith’s Brooklyn deli that she ran in the 1950s, Elyssa’s intent was to look beyond the confines of a standard Jewish deli, reaching instead for the vast Jewish diaspora for inspiration.
“People think Jewish food is just bagels and lox,” Elyssa says. “I thought it would be good to educate people on what Jewish food really is—and hopefully do that in an engaging and approachable way.”
The result is a menu rooted in subtle nods to the global diaspora. A shaking of powdered amba—an Iraqi condiment bound by pickled mango and fenugreek—crowns the top of the salted caramel challah knots. The wood-fired veggie sabich, a sourdough pita cracked open and filled with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, a soft-boiled egg, labneh, hot sauce, and tahini, pays homage to the beloved Iraqi breakfast that showed up in Israel decades ago, now a staple street food.
“Without spouting it in everyone’s faces, we incorporate all these different elements in this inclusive nod to everybody’s Jewish cooking from all over the world,” Elyssa says.
Although the first few weeks of Edith’s focused solely on one original menu, with the high holidays (the holiest days in the Jewish calendar, marked by the Jewish new year and day of atonement) fast approaching, Caroline and Elyssa wanted to provide the community with a Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur menu, too. This menu also flits with global influences. Hungarian paprika is stirred into sweet and sour meatballs; half moons of deviled eggs are daubed with German mustard; and charoset (a chunky fruit and nut paste) boasts Roman Jewish elements, like chicory and Italian olive oil.
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“We’re not just bagels,” Caroline says of Edith’s. “We’re doing all of this amazing food that pulls from all different parts of the Jewish diaspora.”
Although Edith’s Rosh Hashanah take-away menu is already sold out, Caroline has shared her recipe for a caramelized apple, honey, and olive oil upside-down cake. The cake stems from an olive oil cake recipe Caroline has long played around with, but one now infused with influences from a long-established Jewish community in Rome. Caroline explains that many Jewish bakeries in Rome can be found selling olive oil-based desserts—a workaround for kosher laws that prohibit the mixing of milk and meat. While this particular cake does have some dairy in it, it’s heavily inspired by Roman culinary history.
Honey cakes are commonly served for dessert during Rosh Hashanah—a symbolic nod toward a sweet new year—but Caroline was insistent on moving away from the classic Ashkenasi loaf-style cake many Jews are familiar with. Instead, she’s fused olive oil, honey, and apples into one dessert. Slices of apples, cooked down with honey, are splayed out like shingles in the bottom of a baking pan, then covered with the olive oil cake and baked in the oven until the apples are golden brown. Drizzle the final product with more honey, and serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream for a sweet new year.
Caramelized Apple, Honey and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake Recipe
Caramelized Apple, Honey and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake
Cook Time: 2 hoursServes: 8-10Makes: One 8-inch cake
- 3 large apples, a tart variety works best
- 3 tbs butter
- 4 tbs honey plus more to drizzle
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ tsp Baking soda
- ½ tsp Baking powder
- ¾ tsp Kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup plus 1 tbs whole milk
- Creme fraiche or unsweetened whipped cream for serving
- Spray an 8-inch round cake pan well with non-stick pan coating and line with a parchment paper circle, then spray the parchment as well. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the middle.
- Dice one apple into ½” cubes, transfer to a small bowl and toss with half the lemon juice. Set aside. Slice the remaining apples into ⅛” slices.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it starts bubbling, add the apple slices, 4 tbs honey and remaining lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until the apples are soft and they just start to caramelize slightly. Be careful not to let them get too dark or burn. About 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another mixing bowl combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until opaque. Add the oil in 4 additions, whisking to fully incorporate each time.
- Add half the dry ingredients and gently whisk to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients and fully incorporate. Then add the milk slowly, whisking gently to incorporate. Scrape any batter off the whisk, switch to a spatula, and fold in the diced apples.
- Arrange the cooked apple slices in a circle on the bottom of the prepared cake pan, covering the surface fully and going into a second layer if you have remaining slices. Pour the batter on top of the slices and smooth out into an even layer.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until set and golden brown on top, about 35 to 40 minutes. To test, poke the center with a toothpick and if it comes out clean it’s done.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place on a resting rack. Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan to release the sides of the cake. Handling with a dry towel or pot holders, invert the cake onto a serving plate. You want to do this while it’s still hot so it doesn’t stick. Peel away the parchment, fixing any apple slices that may have fallen out of place while inverting. Cool at room temp before slicing. Drizzle with a little extra honey and serve with creme fraiche or unsweetened whipped cream.
Header image courtesy of Edith’s.