I don’t like honey cake, which seems heresy to state right before Rosh Hashanah. After apples and round challah, honey cake is probably the most ubiquitous symbol of the New Year. Unfortunately it’s right up there with the green- and red-speckled fruit cake as a food more about tradition than about flavor.
You’ve probably figured out where this is going. I challenged myself to make a honey cake that I could be proud of. I spent every evening last week making honey cakes. You can read all about my trials (and finally success!) in my most recent column in the Jerusalem Post. If you’re in a rush, scroll down just a bit for the recipe and you’ll bake yourself a cake that’s really all about the honey. No nuts or fruits or coffee or alcohol. No fancy honey – plain old clover honey works great. You don’t even need a stand mixer.
If you’re still looking for a few good Rosh Hashana recipes, scroll down even further to a few dishes that I’ve made in years past. (And if your menu is set, please let me know what you’re making. I’m going down to Atlanta again, and somehow I always volunteer, er get roped into, cooking something.)
And finally, a quick housekeeping note: I’ve added a new page entitled Published. Check it out to catch up on some of the articles I’ve written.
Caramelized honey cake
I developed this cake to celebrate honey for a sweet Rosh Hashanah. It’s based on a Martha Stewart recipe that I made parve and adapted to better showcase the honey. I used soy milk, but almond milk should work well: use plain (not vanilla-flavored), full-fat milk alternative. Don’t go for the non-fat versions. Before you bake the cake, drizzle the batter with extra honey which caramelizes in the oven, helping the cake develop a crispy edge. I’ve tested the recipe with and without a stand mixer and both work well – so go ahead and make this one by hand if you’d like.
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 C granulated sugar
– 1/2 C packed dark-brown sugar
– 1/2 C plain unsweetened soy milk (don’t use vanilla flavor or non-fat; plain almond milk should work well too)
– 1/2 C vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan
– 1 C honey, divided
– 1 lemon for zest and juice (1 t zest, 1 T juice)
– 2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
– 3/4 t baking powder
– 1/2 t baking soda
– 1 t kosher salt
– 1 t ground cinnamon
Prep. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 10-inch springform or two 8X4-inch loaf pans.
Mix. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix eggs and sugars on high speed with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. No mixer? Use a whisk and a little muscle – this will probably take 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you are! Add the soy milk, oil, 3/4 cup honey (reserve the remaining 1/4 cup for later), lemon zest, and lemon juice and keep mixing until everything is combined.
Fold. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl (I use a fine mesh strainer to get out any lumps), and whisk together to mix. With a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet in two batches until well mixed. Don’t overwork the batter.
Fill. Fill the greased and floured pan(s) with the batter. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of honey over the batter, getting most of it around the edges.
Bake. Bake the cake – about 50 minutes for a round cake, 40 for two loaf pan until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Try not to open the oven until almost the end of baking because this cake does have a tendency to fall a bit in the middle if you move it too much. You should be able to see through the door when the center is no longer jiggly – give it another few minutes and poke it with a toothpick. I tend to start looking (through the door!) about 10 minutes before time is up. When it comes out, the top should be slightly sticky because of the honey.
Cool. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully remove it from the pan.
Still planning your Rosh Hashanah menu? Here are a few things that I’ve made in the past that tie right into the New Year symbols and seasonal produce. Simanim, Hebrew for signs or omens, are the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah. A few years ago, my friend Sarah wrote up a great explanation of the simanim, many of which are based on word play – a great read!
Already know what you’re going to make? Please share!
– Round challah– If you have a tried and true challah recipe, I’ve figured out how to weave it into a round loaf.
– Darna challah – If you need a challah recipe. This one is from Ayelet, a chef in Panama City.
– Bread machine challah – If you need a challah recipe and have a bread machine (though, I’m sure you figured out that one on your own).
– Arugula and pistachio salad with orange blossom dressing – A very simple salad, though some people don’t eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah (they’re believed to represent sins).
– Squash mash with balsamic onions – Yup, squash again.
– Pomegranate roasted carrots – Two simanim in one here – pomegranate and carrots. Pomegranate molasses (pomegranate syrup) is one of my favorite ingredients these days. It’s sticky, tart, and slightly sweet and perfect for the New Year.
– Roast a chicken, using either the classic flavors of lemon and thyme or something more creative – maybe apple and cinnamon or roast atop a pile of leeks (siman).
– Honey cake (see above)
– Easy apple cake – A one bowl, one pan apple cake. No stand mixer necessary. Oh, and truly fabulous.
– Apfelstrudel with cinnamon caramel – Apple strudel, using store bought puff pastry. A German classic. Leave out the pecans if you don’t eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah.
– Tarte Tatin aux Poires et Vin – Upside-down pear tart with red wine caramel. If you’re feeling fancy.
I wish you all שנה טובה ומתוקה, shana tova u’metukah, a wonderfully sweet year filled with fun, adventure, and good food! See you in 5773.