Traditional Honey Cake like this one is baked in Autumn to celebrate the Jewish New Year. This year’s holiday starts in two weeks (sundown on Sunday, September 13), so NOW’s the time to gather foods that usher in the harvest and the New Year, like apples and honey.
I’ve been baking all month in anticipation of fall and the Jewish New Year! For more cake ideas, check out this apple pie cake, cranberry almond spice cake, and these bursting with blueberries blueberry muffins. Also, this make in advance savory bread pudding that tastes like pizza bread is a great alternative to blintzes for this year’s Break Fast.
According to food writer Claudia Roden, honey cake was the festive Eastern European dessert made to celebrate not only the New Year but all joyful celebrations, such as weddings and parties. Dating back to the twelfth century, Jewish school boys would bring a piece of honey cake to the first day of school. (Girls had to wait until the late 1800s, early 1900s to go to school with the boys, but we have been making up for lost time with a vengeance!) This Honey Cake recipe comes from Claudia’s book, The Book of Jewish Food, An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York.
You don’t have to be a schoolboy or Jewish to enjoy this old world style German Honey Cake. It’s rich flavors like coffee, cinnamon and orange zest are so fragrant and add incredible taste and aroma to the cake.
Who needs candles when you can bake honey cake? Your whole house will smell delicious!
Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients! It’s dairy free, simple to make and adapt:
Gluten free: replace all purpose flour and baking powder with gluten free versions.
Vegan: use agave instead of honey and an egg replacement or ground flax seed mixed with water.
Liquid flavor agents give Honey Cake a kick! You can replace liquor with a tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Use an electric mixer or whisk to beat eggs or egg replacement with sugar until light and creamy.
For best flavor, toast the almonds at 350 F for about 10 minutes, then let cool before mixing them into the batter. Don’t like almonds or raisins? Use another nut like pecans or walnuts or leave them out. A nut free or raisin free honey cake is just as delicious!
Chocolate lovers: Break with tradition and replace raisins with chocolate chips!!!
Add a tablespoon of flour to mix-ins like almonds and raisins to keep them from falling to the bottom of the cake. This works for other baked goods too, like blueberry muffins or zucchini bread.
Fold nuts and raisins into the coffee colored batter and mix just until blended.
Pour batter into two parchment lined loaf pans. Reserve about 1/4 cup untoasted nuts to sprinkle on top.
Honey cake flavor deepens over time and is even better on day two.
Serve with a side of honey and an extra sprinkling of toasted almonds.
Celebrate autumn, the Jewish New Year or any festive occasion with Honey Cake. Baking is caring! Leave a comment or post and tag your honey cake with #diginwithdana and show us what you’re baking this season.
Serves: 24 slices
- ¾ cup chopped pecans or almonds, divided (75 gm)
- 2 eggs or egg replacement
- 1 cup sugar (200 gm)
- ½ cup light olive or safflower oil (125 ml)
- 1 cup honey or dark agave (250 ml)
- ½ cup strong black coffee (125 ml)
- 2 tablespoons brandy, rum or bourbon (30 ml) (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (10 gm)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (2 gm)
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (5 gm)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves or allspice (1 gm)
- grated zest of one orange
- 2 cups all purpose or gluten free flour (300 gm) + extra to dust nuts and fruit
- ⅓ cup golden raisins (40 gm)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place racks in center of oven.
- Gather and measure out all ingredients before you begin.
- On a baking sheet lined with foil, toast ½ cup almonds at 350 F for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- Use an electric mixer or whisk to beat eggs or egg replacement and sugar together until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes.(Tip: Pour oil into a glass measuring cup first and then add the honey. The honey will be easier to pour into the batter.) Pour in oil, honey, coffee, liquor or vanilla and blend well.
- Combine dry ingredients: baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves or allspice, orange zest and flour.
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients about a third at a time. Beat on low and stop to scrape down sides a few times.
- In a separate bowl, mix a tablespoon of flour into toasted nuts and raisins. Stir them into the batter just until blended.
- Size options: Use a 9 inch (24 cm) pan or two 9 x 5 inch ( 24x 13 cm) loaf pans lined with parchment or foil. Pour in the batter and sprinkle with ¼ cup untoasted almonds.
- Bake larger cake 55 min-1 hour and 2 smaller ones 40 -45 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cake flavors are even better on the second day.
- Fresh cake lasts about 5 days. Well wrapped frozen cake lasts up to 3 months.
- Serve with extra toasted almonds, a dish of honey and coffee, tea or something stronger!
by Claudia Roden, The Book Of Jewish Food