Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. What’s your point?
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, is coming up in a couple of weeks, beginning at sunset on Friday, September 18th. In case you’re unfamiliar, Rosh Hashana begins a ten-day period of introspection, atonement for misdeeds during the previous year, and of giving charity and doing good deeds, to hopefully have your name sealed in God’s “Book of Life” for the next year.
We wish each other a Sweet Year and mark the occasion by eating special foods, such as apples dipped in honey and other foods touched with sweetness, like honey cake. For Rosh Hashana, the challah bread you might be familiar with, is not braided, but coiled into a smooth round shape, signifying the Circle of Life and God’s Nature – there is no beginning and no end.
MJ and I will be spending the first evening at my mother’s and the second evening at my brother’s, so I won’t be doing any of the actual cooking, this year, but I am baking the challahs and honey cakes for both dinners, by special request. I’m even baking challahs and honey cakes to order for my co-workers at $10 apiece, and donating the money to the Komen Foundation to find a cure for Breast Cancer!
Some people equate the New Year honey cake with the Christmas fruitcake – traditional, but more useful as a doorstop. I proudly admit that I like fruitcake – properly aged in a fine Irish whiskey – and I love a good honey cake. This is one of them.
I posted a recipe for my favorite Honey Cake last year, but as with all things, evolution happens. I’ve tweaked this a bit further, adjusted a couple of measurements, and added a little ground cardamom for even more dimension.
This is my new favorite. 🙂
New Year Honey Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup hot strong coffee
- Handful of sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 325º F.
Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat together the wet ingredients in a large bowl until blended, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with coffee, until batter is smooth.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. If using sliced almonds, sprinkle them on top of the batter in 2 columns, on either side of the center. Bake until cake is brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour (test with a wooden skewer).
Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Turn out onto a rack; cool completely.
Wrap cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature or if preparing ahead, seal in freezer storage bag and freeze.
Makes about 8 servings.
Of course, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this honey-sweetened spice cake! It’s the perfect first taste of Fall – try it topped with a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream and cup of coffee or tea on the side. Mmmm… This freezes really well, too, so make it now, wrap it well, put it in a plastic freezer storage bag, and you’ll have one less thing to think about, when preparing your holiday meal!
If you’re good, I’ll give you the challah recipe next week!