This is the season of honey cake, one of my favorite things in the world! And so I am happy to find myself in the kitchen today, baking honey cake, while my kids are all at their various airports to make their way home for the holiday of Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), which we celebrate this Sunday.
Honey cake is traditionally eaten to symbolize our hopes for a sweet New Year. I simply love honey cake! It is such a divine treat, for dessert, and then later with butter spread on it and a cup of coffee to go along. It is also one of those cakes that gets better after sitting around for a few days, and it freezes well, too.
Following is my tried-and-true recipe, slightly adapted from Jewish Regional Cooking, the cookbook my husband and I bought on our very first trip to Israel in 1986.
Ominous, isn’t it, that we should have bought such a cookbook, back when we were “just dating,” and I was nowhere near converting? This particular cookbook is not in print anymore, but you might be able to find it used if you’re interested. Anyway, here goes:
250 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
225 ml (1 cup) honey
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
4 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp boiling water
50 g (1/4 cup) sliced almonds
oil and flour (or matzo meal) to coat loaf pan
Preheat oven to 325F/170C.
Coat a loaf pan (9x5x3″) with oil, dust with flour (I always use matzo meal).
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a small bowl.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, set aside.
Next, in a big bowl, beat egg yolks until they froth, then slowly add in oil, honey, vanilla, sugar, lemon rind and coffee mixture. Beat in flour mixture and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. Then carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle it with the almonds.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then pop the cake out of pan and let it cool on a wire rack.
This honey cake keeps well in the fridge and can also be frozen. You can easily double the recipe to make two loaves!
Enjoy and Shana tova! (Happy New Year!)