Honey Cake for the New Year

Hi, Gather the Jews readers! I’m Dani from yellebellyboo, my blog where I review recipes while cooking in my tiny galley kitchen here in DC. I love encouraging others to step into the kitchen and try something new, even if they’re not usually comfortable cooking. I’m excited to be collaborating with Gather the Jews to bring you a fantastic, parve dessert this Rosh Hashanah. I hope it gives you the extra push to try to make your own dessert this New Year.

Like many DC-ers, DC has been one of several stops on my journey. I was born just north of Boston and graduated from the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!). Being away from home on Rosh Hashanah has always been difficult, as I love enjoying a nice meal with my family and celebrating the new year. My freshman year at Michigan, I was invited home with a friend to spend the holiday with her family. Soon, many of our other out-of-state friends wanted a family Rosh Hashana and her family pulled out an extra leaf for the table. By senior year, there was a whole group of us, her “Rosh Hashanah family”, enjoying the apples, honey, and chopped liver.

After moving to DC, I knew I immediately needed to find a nice Jewish family to take me in for Rosh Hashanah. Lucky for me, one of my close friends is from Baltimore and invited me home with her family this year. And what’s the best way to get a family to love you like one of their own? Feed them. Better yet, feed them dessert. Which is exactly what I plan to do with this honey cake. It’s moist, with just the right amount of spice (plus a little liquor), and baked with loads of love.

This Rosh Hashanah, I hope you are able to gather with family, or your friend’s family, or even just a nice group of DC friends, and enjoy a sweet welcome to the New Year. If you are bringing a housewarming gift, I definitely recommend you step into the kitchen – even if it isn’t your comfort zone – and try to bring a homemade treat. Even if it doesn’t come out perfect, the love and care you put into it will make your host and hostess know just how much you appreciate them letting you be part of their Rosh Hashanah family. If you’re fresh out of ideas, you can try this honey cake or other Rosh Hashanah recipes I’ll be featuring this week at yellebellyboo. L’shana tova!

Majestic and Moist Honey Cake

from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher 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 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rye or whiskey (optional)
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 2 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. (For extra protection, you can put a piece of lightly greased parchment at the bottom, too.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

3. Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

4. Spoon batter into the prepared cake pans. Sprinkle top of cakes evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

5. Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center, about 45 minutes.

6. Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.