Melbourne-based Sydney playwright Jessica Bellamy made this cake for Broadsheet writer Jane Albert when she visited to discuss her play Shabbat Dinner. It’s one of the dishes she makes for her participatory hour-long play, which is more dinner party than theatre.
The production is named for the traditional Jewish Friday-night gathering, usually with family. Bellamy invites audience members to join her at the table for elements of a three-course meal, wine, songs, poetry and stories.
Her sweet, moist and comforting cake is an adapted version of the one Jewish actor Mayim Bialik makes. Bialik uses agave, making it honey-free (so 100 per cent vegan), but Bellamy says for the show she uses her grandma’s recipe as a base (which contains honey). Instead of eggs, she uses chia seeds.
“Most Jewish people will eat it at least once a year for Rosh Hashanah, Jewish new year,” says Bellamy. (In 2020, the holiday runs from the evening of Friday September 18 to the evening of Sunday September 20.) “It is round, to symbolise the cyclical nature of the year, and sweet, to bring in a sweet new year. The coffee gives it a bit of va-va-voom, to remind us to stay awake, alert and aware.”
2 tbsp chia seeds
5 tbsp water
¾ cup honey/agave
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup oil of your choice
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sifted plain flour
1 cup strong coffee
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a round baking dish or tin.
Mix chia seeds with water and leave to engorge for five minutes. (You’ll know they’re ready when each chia seed has developed a little gooey coat on it.)
Mix the chia goo with the honey/agave, brown sugar and oil, and mix well.
Add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and cocoa and mix through.
Sift in flour, alternating with coffee, until all is mixed in. (You can also add walnuts to this recipe if you wish. If you do, add at this point.)
Pour in to the dish and bake for 35–40 minutes.