A while ago a friend asked me for a honey cake recipe for Rosh Hashanah.
But not just any old honey cake recipe. She said she’d had enough mediocre and even unpleasant honey cakes to last a lifetime. Complaining that most cakes were too dry, too sweet, too heavily spiced, or not spiced heavily enough, she asked me for the perfect recipe. She even threatened to swear off honey cake altogether if I didn’t give her one.
Well, I couldn’t let that happen.
I’m sharing my version of honey cake just in time for Rosh Hashanah. It’s moist, perfectly sweet without being cloyingly so, and spiced just right. Something a bit unusual about honey cakes, which are traditionally served for Rosh Hashanah in hopes that they will bring a sweet New Year, is that many recipes call for either coffee, tea, or juice to add complexity to the cake’s flavor. I prefer coffee, which is what I used here, but you could play around with tea or juice if you prefer.
While testing, I also made this cake and topped itwith apple pie jam instead of mixed berry jam…it was fantastic! I think peach jam would be great too. Or if you prefer, a honey glaze is also nice; to make it, start with 1 cup of powdered sugar, use a fork to mix in 2 tablespoons of liquid honey, and then add water a little at a time until it reaches your desired glaze consistency (about 2 tablespoons).
Note that you can easily make this a two-layer cake by doubling the amount of everything (except the jam), and baking the batter in two 9-inch round cake pans. Or you can double the recipe and bake it in a 9 by 13-inch pan; just be sure to increase the bake time as necessary.
Before I left the States, I made this cake for my friend to sample. It won her complete seal of approval, and I was happy as a lark knowing I saved her from the tragedy of never again having honey cake grace her lips. :)
- 1¼ cups (150 g) whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
- ½ cup (120 ml) honey
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
- ½ cup (120 ml) strong coffee, cooled
- ¾ cup mixed berry jam (or any flavor of jam you want), for topping
- Preheat oven to 350F; butter and flour 1 (9-inch) round cake pan, then line the bottom with a 9-inch round piece of parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom in a medium bowl.
- Beat together the canola oil, honey, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and coffee in a large bowl.
- Stirring with a wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients to the wet ⅓ at a time; be careful not to over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping with jam.