Dear Marcy Goldman, Thank you for the most Delicious Moist and Majestic Honey Cake! Thank you for sharing your recipe with us. I have always loved your cookbooks and any recipes I have tried. xoxo, Sherri
Have you ever had a honey cake that was anything but dry and heavy? They are usually like hockey pucks. Not this one, it’s exactly what the name says it is and more. You’ll have to take my word on this, because I never liked honey cake, hated it actually. Last week I found myself somewhat like Elaine in the Seinfeld episode where she ate the $29,000 piece of cake and was dancing around as she ate it. If there was surveillance video of me in my kitchen last week, it would have showed the same. Of course she was missing her sugar fix in the afternoon, I was tasting a little of it every day, to see how long it could actually stay moist. I figured at some point, it had to get dry and heavy, but it never did. Maybe I’ll have to video tape myself and share that with you. If I get enough people requesting it, I just might! To put a number on it, if 25 people subscribe to my blog and comment on this post, I’ll do it!
So let’s rewind… why did I even make a honey cake when I don’t like it? Short answer, It’s Rosh Hashanah, it’s tradition, you can’t buy them in Columbus, Ohio and my husband loves them!
Long Sherri answer… I love family traditions especially around the holidays. Since moving to Columbus one of my favorite family traditions has been at Rosh Hashanah. I always set the holiday table with my sons’ shofars which they made as young children, beautiful flowers, my mother’s candle sticks, apples and mini honey jars. Even my wine bottle gets a little outfit! The excitement of the holiday prompts me to set the table well in advance just so I could have a few extra days to marvel at the table setting. It always makes me so happy. It’s also the time of year when my in-laws would visit for the holiday and stay for a few days.
My in-laws always arrived the day of Erev Rosh Hashanah right after lunchtime. As my father-in-law walked into the house, he would give me a big bear hug and comment how he could smell my cooking in the street as they pulled up. Year after year it was the same scene in my kitchen. The chicken soup was simmering away on the stove, the counter was filled with challahs fresh out of the oven, apple cake and mandel bread (my mother’s delicious recipe). Everything lined up like little soldiers.
The initial excitement of their arrival is one I looked forward to every year. It was even more special because I was the only one home to receive them and had them all to myself for a couple of hours. They came with suitcases and bags of gifts, but more importantly, the honey cakes! I seem to remember one year when my mother-in-law Joan brought five or six of them! I wish I could remember why she said she brought so many, but assume it was because her son loved them so much. Our first holiday without her, I still expected to see her walk through the door arms filled with honey cakes saying “I brought you some honey cakes, it didn’t come out too dry this year!”
It was something I never made (probably because I don’t like them) but more importantly it was her specialty. I’m a good daughter-in-law and would never have stepped on her toes. Last year, I decided to make my husband a honey cake – he does love them afterall. I didn’t have her recipe so what is a girl to do? Look through every Jewish cookbook and Google until she finds one that looks good. When a recipe has the words moist and majestic in it, especially for a honey cake, you look no further.
So thank you Marcy Goldman for bringing us all this most delicious cake! Just for the record, I made it last year as is but this year tweaked it just a little to accommodate my taste. I can now say I’m a honey cake lover, hence my Elaine dance in the kitchen! Remember, if you want to see my honey cake happy dance, make a comment on this post!
The tradition and excitement of years past fills my heart. My mother’s mandel bread fills my soul, alongside it sits this majestic and moist honey cake which I think my mother-in-law would have just loved. Shana Tova… Enjoy!
Majestic and Moist Honey Cake adapted from Marcy Goldman’s Treasure of Jewish Holiday Baking. Here is what I changed… I omitted the cloves (I don’t like them), I used pineapple juice instead of orange juice because I always have cans of pineapple juice on hand, and never have orange juice! I cut down the sugar to see if I would miss it – I didn’t! Finally, I don’t care for the taste of whiskey and even in the cake it was a bit strong. My friend Susie and I baked honey cakes together last week and she suggested I try brandy. She uses it in a sweet potato dish she makes and said it adds a nice flavor. She was right; the brandy was a perfect choice, not as strong as the whiskey and when you eat the cake you wonder, what is that. FYI… I think my brandy is a little bit majestic as well. I started with ¼ of a bottle, have made 14 honey cakes this year and haven’t run out of brandy yet!
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup extra light olive oil
1 cup honey
1 granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)
I made mine in a variety of ways. My favorite, was the mini loaf pans (5 ¾ x 3 ¼) which yielded 8 and are great to give as gifts. I have also made this recipe in three 8 x 4 ½” loaf pans. The 9” or 10” angel food pan makes for a very pretty presentation and Marcy Goldman’s favorite choice. Finally you can use a 9×13” sheet pan. This is pretty versatile if you ask me.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. In a separate bowl, mix the warm coffee with the brown sugar. This helps the clumps you can sometimes get. Then add all of the wet ingredients plus the sugar and mix together. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)
Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
Spoon the batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top). Hmmm… I somehow missed this step, but they came out perfectly when I baked them on one cookie sheet, or directly on the oven rack.
Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. The minis only took 30 minutes. If you are using throw away aluminum tins, the bake time will be a little less for all of the above.