A Sweet Honey Cake for a Sweet New Year

It is that time of year again.  Rosh Hashana Yom Kippur and Sukkot – the fall holiday trilogy.  We start with two days (except for this year when it was three) of honey cakes, pomegranates and apples in honey, spend one day fasting to make up for the intense food consumption (it totally does not make up for it – ask my scale) and then spend a week eating more honey related things, squashes and other fall favorites outside in our decorated mini-houses.  Can you see the imbalance here?  Too much food, hmm?  Maybe we should throw in another fast day at the end or something.  But then, we wouldn’t be real Jews if we didn’t eat our own weight in food during a holiday.

So in the spirit of the honey-drenched holiday, here is a honey cake recipe.  I try new recipes every year looking for a moist, but not overly sweet version of the holiday favorite.  Unfortunately Rocker Dude is not a fan of the honey cake and therefore will not help in taste testing.  So no pre-gaming.  We bake the cake for the actual holiday and hope for the best.

Honey Cake

Last year I made a honey cake that was loaded with liquid – juice and booze.  It was delicious but a bit too sweet.  So I searched the interweb and found another recipe that was purported to be lighter (due to whipped egg whites) and not too sweet.  It was game time.

This cake is really easy to make – whip the egg whites first and then mix all the ingredients in a separate bowl.  Fold egg whites into the other ingredients and bake. Even my mom would consider making this cake (my mom is a long-time champion of the one-bowl baking experience).

And the verdict: delicioso! (I have been watching waaaay too much Dora the Explorer.)  Three days after baking, the cake was moist and light and not sticky.  Two days after that it was just as good.  There is still another week an a half before honey cake season ends for the year (it’s a very short season) – make this cake!

Honey Cake (from Allrecipes.com):

Ingredients

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3 teaspoons instant coffee granules

1 cup hot water

Directions

Mix coffee in hot water, and then cool.

Whip egg whites until stiff.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar until creamy. Add the oil and then the honey, beating after each addition. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Sift and then measure 3 cups of flour. Combine with salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Add these dry ingredients alternately with the coffee to the honey mixture, stirring only until blended. Do not overmix.

Fold egg whites into the batter in three additions. Pour into 2 greased 8 inch square pans, or one bundt pan.

Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of cake comes out clean.

Advertisements

Presents Presents Presents!

I love my birthday!  It’s the one day that is just for me (and all those other people that I share the day with) besides mother’s day.  I know this sounds a little self-centered, but everyone needs one day of self-centeredness.  This year I did not have a lot of time to celebrate as my birthday was on a Friday and we were going to be at my in-laws for the weekend.  But we made the most of it.

Hubby, the darling Rocker Dude that he is, got me my presents early.  Instead of trying to be super creative and risking disappointment, he looked at my wishlist on Amazon.com and got me some of the books on the list (isn’t that what wishlists are for?)

The first present that Rocker Dude got me was The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet.  It is kind of a textbook with a large introduction section that discusses ingredients and tools – quality and purposes.  It is really educational and then after that part, it goes into basic recipes as well as unique variations on them with clear pictures.

The next present was The Simple Art of Perfect Baking by Flo Braker.  It has a lot of clear instructions and tips on how to bake and how to fix what goes wrong, or why something goes wrong.  It is written more for the home baker.

These were both books that I had looked at before and read all the reviews.  Rocker Dude knew that and so he got me my presents.  I was so excited when I got them.  I can’t wait to make something from them.  In the meantime I am reading all the introductions about equipment and tools so that I can get ready.  Also, Passover is coming and I am trying to clean the house of all flour products (let me tell you, it is not easy).

The Sur La Table book is quite a textbook.  It’s one of those books that if a thief ever came into the house, it would be an ideal weapon to smash on his head.

Then on Friday when we went into Jerusalem for the weekend, there were more presents waiting – yay!  My in-laws had gotten me Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft by the Culinary Institute of America (my secret dream was to study there after high school – oh well).

This, is really a textbook, there is even a student workbook that goes with it, though I think I will start with this before I go onto the workbook.   But coolest of all is that along with the cookbook, there was a chef’s uniform waiting for me with my name on it – literally!  There was a chef’s jacket and apron, both embroidered with my name and a hat.  How cool is that?  Now I’m not sure when I will wear it, but maybe on a day when I have a ton of cooking to do I will get all dressed up, or maybe at night….?

Not everyone thinks that such things are presents, when I mentioned them to some of my friends, they kind of had this awkward look, like, is he trying to say something with these presents?  But the truth is, even if it means that I spend more time in the kitchen, I enjoy baking and these are presents for me.  I don’t know how much I will get to bake before Passover because we are trying to finish what is in the  cabinets and the fridge, not add more.  So I warn you all in advance – there will probably be some flops and some things that would be better if I made them a second time, but I hope that there wil also be some awesomely cool stuff coming out of my kitchen and out of this blog.  Keep your eyes peeled.

My First Post

Hi Everyone,

I know that while I am writing this there aren’t a lot of people out there who will read it, but I hope that eventually I can join the great community that is pastry blogging.  But before I get carried away, I want to explain why I am doing this.  I love to bake.  My secret dream is to become a pastry chef.  Now that I finally graduated college with a degree in Political Science and Middle Eastern History (whose bright idea was that?) I can get on my way.  I want to start culinary school soon, but as my husband (the one who came up with the name for this blog) is finishing up his masters and teaching degree, I have to wait a bit.  In the meanwhile I am trying to teach myself through example and baking as much as I can.  Unfortunately this has not helped my diet at all, but this is what I love to do – who loves to diet??

My husband, M, is being super-supportive and is encouraging me in everything, the only problem is that all he wants is a chocolate chip cookie – forget pies, cakes, bundts, brownies,  tarts, etc. just give him a cookie and he is happy.  When I proudly show off my latest creation, he looks at it and says, “Good job, now do we have anything to snack on in the house?”  So I am writing this blog so that maybe other people can appreciate what I am doing.  It will also push me to make sure that I actually make something every week and not flake out.  Good luck to me!