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Honey Cake-Off: Day 4


Majestic and Moist New Year's Honey Cake. (Bill Webster -- The Washington Post)

A recipe from Marcy Goldman simply had to be included in this challenge. The Montreal baker just released anniversary editions of "A Treasury of Jewish Baking" and "The New Best of BetterBaking.com." Last week, her "Treasury" was included in Epicurious.com's seven favorite Jewish cookbooks, mentioning her Majestic and Moist New Year's Honey Cake as a standout.

Recipe Included

To our tasters, this cake seemed the most traditional in flavor and texture. Rich with coffee, brown sugar and just short of the full treatment of holiday spices (cinnamon, allspice, cloves), Goldman's recipe also calls for 1/4 cup of whisky: It adds flavor, she says, akin to the old "bubbe trick" of adding schnapps for "High Holiday-ness." Those who knew from honey cake considered this a very good rendition of what they'd had in the past. Those who didn't particularly like honey cake, however, found it a bit heavy.

The recipe's unchanged in the updated cookbook, but when I contacted her, she did suggest a few worthwhile tweaks....

* After the cake's first 40 minutes in the oven, reduce the temperature from 350 to 325 degrees for the remainder of baking. Let it go till it's done (as directed; tell by a springy touch).

* A bundt pan is mentioned as a possible vessel for baking this cake, but Goldman now advises against it.

The recipe says to invert the cake for cooling, which would suggest that serving it bottom-side up was in order. I couldn't bring myself to do that. And you may notice my sprinkling of sliced almonds migrated to the center tube like paper clips clustered around an invisible magnet. (The almonds are beautifully, evenly seated across the top of her cake as pictured in the updated book.) If the tire-rim look is not what you're after, no worry. Goldman suggested an easy fix: Just scatter the almonds closer to the outer edges of the cake batter.

Majestic and Moist New Year's Honey Cake
8 to 10 servings

This cake also can be baked in a 9-by-13-inch sheet pan or in three 8-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans.


(Bill Webster -- The Washington Post)

Adapted from Goldman's "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking: 10th Anniversary Edition" (Whitecap, 2009).

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon 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 (white) sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup rye or whisky (may substitute more orange juice or coffee for a nonalcoholic version)
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan (with a removable bottom) with nonstick cooking oil spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper, cutting out a hole for the center tube of the pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, white and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whisky. Use a strong wire whisk to combine the ingredients to form a thick batter making sure no ingredients are stuck at the bottom of the bowl. (Alternatively, the flour mixture can be added to the oil mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer, beating on low speed.)

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan; sprinkle the top with almonds, if desired, close to the outer edges because the nuts may migrate toward the center during baking. Place the pan on a double layer of baking sheets (stacked together) with a piece of parchment paper lining the top baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched with a fingertip.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then gently dislodge it from the pan and place on the rack to cool completely before serving or storing.

-- Bonnie Benwick

Next up: If no one eats your honey cake, fine. Make apple honey cake bread pudding.

By The Food Section  |  September 14, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, Rosh Hashanah, honey cake, recipes  
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Next: Honey Cake-Off: Day 5

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