We all know I’m an Italian girl through and through, but today and tomorrow I’m featuring a couple of traditional Jewish recipes in honor of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, which began last night at sundown, and concludes tomorrow at sundown. I’ve become increasingly interested in Jewish cuisine over the last year or so, and actually purchased the cookbook Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited a few months ago. I read it cover to cover and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the background behind so many of the recipes. So I was totally excited when my Chief Culinary Consultant suggested putting together a traditional Jewish meal for Rosh Hashana since we are here in Florida and his grandfather (who happens to live down here) is indeed Jewish. This honey cake was our dessert (and might be breakfast for a couple of days too!).
Our menu for the Rosh Hashana dinner was:
Apple slices with honey for dipping (traditional and symbolic of a “sweet” new year) Challah bread (I have a great homemade recipe here) Matzo ball soup (my Chief Culinary Consultant’s mom made that with a recipe from a friend of her’s) Apricot Chicken (recipe from Simply Recipes) Noodle Kugel (recipe coming tomorrow!) Honey Cake
This honey cake is the epitome of moist, and absolutely bursting with flavor. It is perfectly spiced, and the honey flavor is balanced with the combination of coffee, orange juice, and… whiskey! (Woo for boozy baking! If, for whatever reason, you prefer not to bake with alcohol, you can add an extra two tablespoons each of coffee and orange juice.) Basically, this is an amazing honey spice cake and would be perfect to serve to guests any day of the week. Or, treat yourself to a special Sunday dinner dessert – no guests required!
Everyone enjoyed the meal, and it was awesome to experience new and traditional foods. I definitely plan on making a number of these again!
Quick note: Since I made a bundt-style cake, I sprinkled the slivered almonds onto the bottom of the pan and then poured the batter on top. When I unmolded the cake, the almonds were baked nicely into the top and sides of the cake. I decided to sprinkle on a few more for decoration so you could see them. When the cake comes out of the pan it’s still warm and super-moist, so the extra almonds stuck right to it!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. Even if your pan is non-stick, still spray!
In a large bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), 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 sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and whiskey, if using.
Using a strong wire whisk or with an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together until all ingredients are well-blended, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. (If you are using a bundt pan, sprinkle the almonds into the bottom of the pan before pouring the batter in). 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).
Bake until the cake springs back when you gently touch the cake center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, almost clean. For tube and bundt pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature, covered tightly.
This recipe can be made in three standard loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9- or 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9x13-inch sheet cake. I made mine in a 9-cup bundt pan (a bit smaller than standard) and baked the leftover in an 8-inch loaf pan.