Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

This year, we had a fairly low-key celebration of the Jewish New Year, but one thing I do every year, regardless of how many people are coming over for dinner, is make a honey cake.  If you're one of those people who cringe at the thought of a sweet and spicy cake, I'm with you: I'm no big fan of cinnamon (unless it's in the form of a Cinnabon), and I generally dislike cloves, allspice . . . you know, the "apple pie" spices.

But this honey cake is so majestic, so moist that each year I put aside my spice prejudices and make it.  Oh, in fact, it's called "Majestic and Moist New Year's Honey Cake," and it's from Marcy Goldman, who is also responsible for Caramel Chocolate Matzoh Crunch (a.k.a. matzoh crack).

I used Goldman's batter to make cupcake-sized cakes this year, as cupcakes are faster to bake and easier to give away as gifts.  The recipe yields a very liquidy batter, but the result is a cake that is as melt-in-your-mouth on day one as it is on day four.

I served the cupcakes with a little margarine and honey.  They are plenty sweet already, but if you want a sweet new year, you gotta go all out, right?!

Here's the recipe:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea (For a Chewish twist, I used a Vietnamese coffee that my mom brought back for me from Saigon.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rye or whisky 
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds 

Goldman recommends using a 9-inch angel food cake pan, but says that you can also make it in a 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, a 9 by 13-inch sheetpan, or three 8 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.  (I used a muffin pan that yields 12 cupcakes.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease the pan(s).  For tube and angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper.  For gift honey cakes, Goldman uses "cake collars" (available from Sweet Celebrations) designed to fit a specific loaf pan. These give the cakes an appealing, professional look.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.

Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with the almonds. Place the cake pan(s) on 2 baking sheets stacked together and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. For angel and tube cake pans, bake for 60 to 70 minutes; loaf cakes, 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquidy batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time. Cake should spring back when gently pressed.

Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: If you prefer not to use the whisky, replace it with orange juice or coffee.

Chewish or not, make this cake.  You'll love it. A belated l'shana tova to all!


lavenderpug September 14, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

i made a honey cake for a friend's family a few years ago, but this one looks so much more moist! yummy!

Sugar September 16, 2010 at 2:47 PM  

You are such a good Chewish Housewife. I'll have to mark this for next year. Happy New Year to all of you!!

BigAppleNosh September 16, 2010 at 4:42 PM  

Yuuum, I had honey cake years ago but never found a good recipe. Thanks for sharing yours!

Aileen September 25, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

I just thought I'd drop you a line because I also came across Marcy Goldman's recipe recently and attempted it, but ended up having to change the recipe quite a bit. It was still delicious though!


Mrs. Hot Cocoa September 27, 2010 at 12:38 AM  

@ Aileen: Yours turned out beautiful. The almonds and blueberries are a nice touch! I tried to leave you a comment on your site, but it wouldn't let me for some reason? ;-(

Aileen September 27, 2010 at 1:16 AM  

Oh no, thanks for the heads up... I changed my layout recently and must have somehow deleted the comments.

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