Recipe of the Month: Honey Cake

Welcome to an adventure of global cake culture. Explore a fascinating culinary journey of recipes throughout history, and around the planet. Excerpts from my book A World of Cake land right in the middle of your kitchen to make and enjoy. Happy travels!

Krystina Castella

Krystina Castella is also author of Crazy About Cookies, Crazy About Cupcakes, Booze Cakes, Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone, and with her husband Brian Boyl Discovering Nature’s Alphabet.

Mit lechig is a Yiddish term that translates as “with honey.” According to Jewish tradition, honey symbolizes hope and new beginnings, and so honey is a favored food for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Many Jews begin their Rosh Hashanah dinner with an apple dipped in honey and finish with a honey cake.  This year Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown on September 28th.

Brit Milah

Honey cake is also commonly prepared for a bris (Brit Milah), the Jewish rite of circumcision for a newborn baby boy. The whole extended family attends to witness. A big party follows, and guests indulge in the mit lechig cake.

 

Honey Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1{1/2} teaspoons baking powder
{1/2} teaspoon ground cinnamon
{1/2} teaspoon salt
1 cup honey
3 eggs, separated
{1/4} cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
{1/4} cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
{1/4} cup raisins
{1/4} cup candied orange peel
{1/4} cup chopped dried apricots
{1/2} cup slivered almonds

Honey Icing

2 tablespoons water
1{1/2} tablespoons honey
1{1/2} teaspoons vanilla extract
{1/8} teaspoon salt
2{1/2} cups confectioners’ sugar

Topping

{1/4} cup slivered almonds

 

Makes 1 cake (serves 6 to 8)

 

To prepare

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter and flour an 8-inch Bundt pan.

To make the cake

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a separate large bowl, blend the honey, egg yolks, oil, lemon juice, orange juice, vanilla and brown sugar with a mixer until creamy. Add the lemon zest, raisins, candied orange peel, apricots, and almonds, and stir well. Stir the flour mixture into the batter until blended; set aside. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy, then fold them into the batter.

To bake

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, invert onto a rack, and let cool.

To make the icing

Combine the water, honey, vanilla, and salt. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar gradually, until the icing reaches the desired consistency.

To serve

Top with honey icing and slivered almonds.

 

Variations

 

Apricot Honey Cake

Omit the raisins and orange peel and add an additional {1/2} cup chopped dried apricots. Top with thinned apricot jam instead of honey icing.



Chocolate Honey Cake

Omit the lemon juice and orange juice. Reduce the flour to 1{3/4} cups and add {1/2} cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the batter.



Coffee Honey Cake

Omit the lemon juice and orange juice. Add {1/2} cup flour and {1/2} cup double-strength espresso to the batter.