Every year I make honey cakes. Every year I always think it can be improved upon. BUT NOT THIS YEAR! Maybe that’s a sign that this year, will be a good year. However, it could have started with better news. I just heard from a dear friend of mine (who is really family) that she had a stroke. She doesn’t live in this country, so I am feeling totally helpless about what to do. It is painful just sitting here, wishing I could be there to help. She sounds good on the phone, but I know she will have a lot of recovery to do.
I could become all philosophical, but I will spare you. Let’s all appreciate what we have and be grateful. Life can change at the drop of a hat. For better or for worse though, life does have a way of moving on. Sometimes it may seem that it is standing still, but that’s when the joke is on us. I’m grateful that I’ve reached this season and I hope you are too. And I said I’d spare you!
As a child, honey cake was never my favorite. In fact, the only way I remember honey cake was from a Manischewitz boxed mix and baked in a foil pan. I didn’t like it. My mom always made taiglach. Now that was my favorite. I used to make it when the kids were young, but they didn’t like that. So what is taiglach you may ask? Taiglach are baked cookie dough pieces that after baking, are then cooked in a mixture of honey and ginger. My mom always made hers like strudel. She’d roll the dough out thin and then sprinkle raisin and nuts on top. Then it would be rolled up jelly roll style, sliced, pinched together and then baked. After that it would be cooked in the honey syrup. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. I really must make these again, but the problem is that I know I will be the one eating them all. And lest you forget, I am on the Costa Rican beach diet!
But back to honey cake. Honey cake is really a spice cake made with honey. It isn’t a rich cake. I bake mine in a loaf pan, but it could also be baked in a rectangular pan. It is not meant to be frosted. Honey cake is made with oil instead of butter. If one does keep kosher, it means you can eat this with either a dairy or a meat meal. It is made to be served with coffee or tea and coffee or tea can be used interchangeably in the recipe. You could add raisins or chocolate chips. This year I added apples. After all, apples and honey, that may sound funny, but they will make the new year, sweet and sunny. OK. That was a kid’s song we used to sing, and I guess I still do. Every frickin’ year!
This really is the best honey cake I’ve made. I used bourbon in it and strong Earl Grey tea. I added a grated apple which though you can’t taste it, it did make this very moist. Oh. I also upped the honey. Love the extra honey in this! I also love drizzling more honey on top. And I added toasted walnuts. I could have added chocolate chips but I stuck with tradition. One slice is perfect with afternoon tea and one slice is perfect for breakfast. And yes, you can rearrange the spices in this. I’m sure pumpkin spice would taste great and if you aren’t a huge fan of cinnamon, then just decrease it.
Honey cake is moist and homey. Perfect for Fall. Great toasted and slathered with butter; just be careful it doesn’t fall apart. It is full of flavor and improves with age. (Just like me!) It makes a great snack and makes 2-3 cakes so one can always be waiting in the freezer. This is so much better than the honey cake of my youth. But it sure doesn’t beat teiglach!
L’Shana Tova to all my friends and family. Happy New Year and may this year be a blessing.
Honey Cake with Apples and Toasted Walnuts
Time to Make: About 30 minutes to make and 40 minutes to bake
Yield: 2 – 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and 1 4 x 6
3 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
4 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground allspice
1/2 c canola or sunflower oil
1 1/2 c honey (your favorite flavor)
1 c sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla
3/4 c strongly brewed Earl Grey tea, cooled or cooled coffee
1/4 c bourbon, orange or apple juice
1 Granny Smith apple grated
1 c toasted walnuts, chopped (I place nuts in a pie tin and then bake them for about 10-15 minutes at 350, until you smell them. That means they are getting close to toasted, so watch carefully!)
Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, tea and bourbon together. Slowly stir into dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in grated apple and nuts. Let batter sit about 1 hour before filling pans. Preheat oven to 350. Grease your loaf pans well. Fill greased loaf pans about 1/2 way. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. A toothpick inserted into center of cake should come out fairly clean and cake should be pulling away from sides. Let cool on rack. Run knife around edges and turn out onto serving plate. Drizzle with more honey and serve with apple wedges. Have a sweet year!