A Few Twists on a Holiday Favorite


Oh joy! It’s that time of year when we get to eat honey cake (yes, this is sarcasm).

Okay, before you get your yontif nose out of joint, I will freely admit that I’m among the minority of the tribe that really never cared for this quintessential holiday treat. It’s probably not my favorite because my mom didn’t care for it either and she only served it (notice I said served, not made; she always bought it) because my dad liked it.

However, judging by the amount of emails I get asking for honey cake recipes, I’m betting that most everybody else on the planet that’s heading out to shul doesn’t want to leave home without at least a slice or two under his or her belt.

With these parameters in place, the following recipes are not your bubbies’ recipe but rather new and unusual twists on a classic holiday recipe.

A quick tip: Honey cake becomes moister and its flavors deepen a day or two after it’s made.

Orange Lemon Honey Cake
(Dairy or Pareve)

1 cup flour
1 and 1⁄2 tsps. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. orange zest
3⁄4 cup butter or margarine
3⁄4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1⁄4 cup milk or nondairy alternative
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Honey Syrup Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup honey
3⁄4 cup water
1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set the mixture aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3⁄4 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until blended. Stir in the nuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, and then cut into diamond shapes.

To Prepare the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Pour honey syrup over the cake.

Serves 8.

Apricot Honey Cake

1 and 3⁄4 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
3⁄4 tsp. baking soda
3⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup honey
2⁄3 cup oil
1⁄2 cup freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
2 large eggs
1⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 Tbsps. whiskey or bourbon

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder and ginger. Set aside. In another bowl combine the honey, oil and coffee, and whisk to combine.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs and brown sugar. Beat to combine. Reduce the speed then add the honey mixture, chopped apricot and whiskey, and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan (the batter will be thin) and bake 30 minutes. Cover the top loosely with foil and bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.

Cool for about 1 hour before you run a knife around the outside of the cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack. Turn cake right side up and cool completely.

Chocolate Honey Cake
(Dairy or Pareve)

1⁄3 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for the pan
1 and 1⁄4 cups flour
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 cup honey
1 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs

Honey Glaze Ingredients:

3 Tbsps. water
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
1 and 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease a bunt pan, then dust completely with cocoa powder.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, 1⁄3 cup of cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set the mixture aside.

In a saucepan, combine the honey and butter. Heat until the mixture melts together. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for 2 to 3 minutes; with the mixer still beating slowly, add the flour mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine the water, instant coffee and vanilla until the coffee and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.

Serves 10 to 12.

Honey Almond Cake

1 and 1⁄2 cups whole almonds, toasted, ground
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1⁄2 cup honey
1⁄2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. salt
honey for topping
slivered almonds for topping

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the paper.

Process the toasted almonds until very finely ground (nearly a flour-like texture). In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg yolks, honey, almond extract, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until well combined. Add the ground almonds and combine thoroughly.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl, until very foamy, white, and doubled in volume, but not until they hold peaks. By hand, gently fold the whites into the nut mixture until just combined.

Using a spatula, gently spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick placed into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Use a knife around the edges of the pan and then let cool to room temperature. Gently transfer the cake to a serving platter.

To serve, drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds.


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