A Sweet New Year

Honey is one of the main ingredients in traditional Rosh Hashanah food, in order to ensure that the coming year will be sweet.  Carrots in honey (Tzimmes),  honey cake and apples dipped in honey usually grace our table.  I left out the carrots this year as well as the apples and honey.  But I did make the honey cake.

Now, the problem with honey cake is that it is usually dry and somewhat tasteless.  I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes over the years.  Usually it just sits on the table, somewhat neglected as people consume the other desserts.  The Hippo doesn’t even bother with traditional honey cake and instead makes these honey cakes which always look so good.  This year I found a pretty good recipe, complete with a bittersweet chocolate glaze.  It was good enough that I only have a little bit left over today.  Along with the pan of apple crisp which was forgotten in the oven. I’ll give you both recipes with a caveat:  I made up the apple crisp one based on an Ina Garten recipe and the honey cake takes a bunt pan which is, apparently, my nemesis.  I had to make this cake twice as the first time, half of it stayed in the pan when I turned it out.  Sigh.

Honey Cake (from epicurious.com)


For cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pure honey
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm coffee (brewed, or instant dissolved in water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons packed grated orange zest

For chocolate glaze:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease your bunt pan to within an inch of its life.  I used cooking spray.  Lots of it.
Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and clove into a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, honey and coffee.  I didn’t use the orange zest but if you do, add it to this mixture.  If you measure the oil before you measure the honey, don’t rinse the cup, and re-use it to measure the honey,  it will come out much easier.  Once this is combined, add it to the four mixture and whisk again until the whole thing is combined and smooth.
Pour into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until it’s springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when placed in the center.  Let it cool on a rack for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk and corn syrup in a small heavy pan.  Bring it to a simmer and stir until it is combined.  Chop your chocolate (use either a food processor or a serrated knife)  and add it to the warm mixture.  Let it stand for a minute and then stir it until smooth. Let it stand so it will get slightly thicker but still be pourable.
Say a prayer to the bunt cake gods and turn your cake out onto a rack. Perhaps loosen the sides with a rubber spatula first.  Good luck to you on this.
Pour the glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides.  You can let it sit a room temperature as the glaze sets.
Forgotten Apple Crisp
For the apples:
Several pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped into similar sized pieces
3/4-1 cup white sugar (depends on how sweet you want your apples)
1-2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, cloves, ginger (to taste)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Crisp:
12 tablespoons butter, cool and chopped
1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix your apples, spices, sugar and cornstarch.  I use my hands- it helps for more even coverage. Place the apple mixture into a baking dish.  In an electric mixer, combine all the crisp ingredients except the butter.  Once everything is combined, add the butter and mix until you have a sort of sandy mixture.  Sprinkle this over the top of the apple mixture, covering all of the apples.  Bake for about an hour or until it’s nicely browned and the apples are bubbling.  Do not forget about it in the oven or else you will have some very dark apple crisp that you will have to eat all by yourself.

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