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Rosh Hashana Honey Chocolate Cake

On the crimson carpet of Rosh Hashana desserts, honey cake has a much smaller fan base than a few of its glittering apple counterparts. But honey desserts are iconic, tethered to the Excessive Holidays as an emblem of hope for a candy New Yr and a nod to Israel, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (E-book of Exodus 3:8) The Jewish New Yr is a time of introspection and celebration, and a possibility to mirror on the earlier yr and contemplate the one forthcoming. It’s why Jewish bakers additionally gravitate in direction of round baked items for this season, symbolizing life’s steady cycle.

Honey-laced desserts have lengthy been embraced by cultures around the globe. Way back to the twelfth century, Italian bakers had been identified for a dense and honey-sweetened semolina cake; within the thirteenth and 14th centuries, closely spiced and honeyed gingerbread, studded with nuts and dried and candied fruit, was prevalent all through Europe. Finally, the Ashkenazi Jews in Central Europe embraced their very own model, which they loved alongside robust espresso or tea. 

Honey cake—also called “lekach” a Yiddush phrase derived from the German lecken, which means “lick” and maybe the Aramaic lĕkhakh, which means to “combine in completely”—is commonly maligned. Very similar to fruitcake, an overwhelming spice profile and stodgy texture are on the coronary heart of the dish’s dangerous status. Even honey cake devotees admit that the dessert is extra usually about household custom than taste, tethering us to generations that when circled the vacation desk. In revisiting the custom, I turned to a cake culled from Bayswater, Queens circa 1950, when recipe swapping was common inside the Temple Sisterhood and the American Jewish volunteer girls’s group, Hadassah. My grandmother, Minnie, was a devoted member of each. 

Minnie’s Rosh Hashana cake is a contented marriage between golden honey cake and wealthy chocolate cake. It’s, as my grandmother would say, “a great keeper,” partly as a result of excessive focus of honey, which works as a preservative. Her recipe additionally features a beneficiant splash of Coca-Cola which, having been deemed kosher in 1936, has discovered its method into many subsequent Jewish recipes. As a result of we had been a household of Dr. Brown’s cream soda followers, I’ve swapped that in (it’s additionally kosher) for the unique cola. And although Minnie’s model was unglazed, I’ve additionally added a slick of darkish chocolate-honey icing, which I discover elevates this humble cake to famous person standing.

Yield: 16

Time: 2 hours half-hour


For the honey cake layer:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. floor cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. floor cardamom
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. floor allspice
  • ¼ tsp. floor ginger
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ cup clover honey
  • ½ cup darkish brown sugar
  • ½ cup impartial oil, plus extra for greasing
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 massive eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup strongly brewed espresso or tea, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup whiskey or orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the chocolate layer:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup medium rye flour
  • ⅓ cup darkish cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup darkish brown sugar
  • ½ cup impartial oil
  • 2 massive eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cream soda (ideally Dr. Brown’s model)

For the glaze:

  • 8 oz. darkish chocolate, finely chopped (ideally 60%)
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. clover honey


  1. Preheat the oven (with one of many racks positioned within the backside third) to 350°F. Frivolously grease an angel meals cake pan with impartial oil. Line the underside of the pan with a circle of parchment paper, flippantly grease the paper, then mud the pan very flippantly with all-purpose flour, knocking out any extra.
  2. Make the honey cake layer: Within the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir collectively the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, orange zest, baking soda, allspice, ginger, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk collectively the honey, darkish brown sugar, oil, sugar, eggs, espresso, whiskey, and vanilla. Flip the mixer on low and steadily pour within the moist combination, sometimes pausing to make use of a silicone spatula to scrape down the underside and sides of the bowl, till the batter is clean. Pour evenly into the ready cake pan and put aside.
  3. Make the chocolate cake layer: Clear and dry the stand mixer bowl and whisk and return to the mixer. To the bowl, add the flour, rye flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Within the medium bowl, whisk collectively the sugar, brown sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and cream soda. Flip the mixer on low and steadily pour within the moist combination, sometimes pausing to make use of a silicone spatula to scrape down the underside and sides of the bowl, till the batter is clean. Slowly and evenly pour the chocolate batter over the honey batter. Utilizing an offset spatula or the again of a spoon, clean the floor of the cake, however don’t swirl the 2 layers collectively. Place the cake pan on a big baking sheet, switch to the oven, and bake till a cake tester inserted within the heart of the cake comes out clear, 60–75 minutes. Switch the cake to a wire rack and put aside to chill in its pan for half-hour.
  4. In the meantime, make the glaze: To a heatproof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water, add the chocolate, coconut oil, and honey; cook dinner, stirring steadily, till the chocolate is sort of melted, about 5 minutes. Take away from the warmth and put aside, stirring sometimes, till the glaze is totally clean. Put aside.
  5. Utilizing an offset spatula or a skinny knife, loosen the cake from the perimeters of the pan. Invert onto a plate to take away from the pan, discard the parchment paper circle. Put aside to chill utterly earlier than inverting the cake as soon as once more onto a big serving plate. Pour the glaze evenly excessive of the cooled cake, permitting the surplus to drip down the perimeters. Reduce into slices and serve at room temperature. Lined loosely with plastic wrap, the cake will preserve effectively at room temperature for 4 days, or longer if refrigerated.


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