I tried to avoid this. Really, I did.
I wracked my brain, rustled through my ever expanding kosher cookbook collection and finally through up my hands and yielded to Melissa Roberts, my go-to recipe writer, for a traditional Rosh Hashanah recipe with a twist.
Like you, I was thinking, aren’t there enough honey cake recipes out there, already?
Maybe so, but I’m feeling sentimental about honey cake and here’s why.
I clearly remember the first time I fell for it. D. brought S. home from Boston to share Rosh Hashanah with us. I could see that their love was deep and for real.
After attending services and returning to our place on that warm fall day, our family and guests retreated to the screened porch with cool drinks and nibbles before diving into our late lunch. When the doorbell rang it was unexpected, since all of our guests had already arrived. HMMM.
The FedEx guy handed me a package, neatly wrapped in sharply creased and taped brown paper. It was from S’s Mom. Inside, was the first honey cake I ever fell for.
It was moist and bright with those forward facing Autumnal spices. Moist and flavorful, and not too too sweet.
Now, D. and S. have been married for exactly four weeks and 5 days. No reason to count. It’s just that I’m still basking in the memories of their glorious celebration and feeling joyful as we look forward.
I couldn’t bring myself to ask our bride for her family recipe this year. While she has a stack of thank you notes looming (proud to say that D. is sharing in the task) and a rigorous grad school schedule on her horizon, I am intent on giving the newlyweds some space to simply settle in without making any requests of them. I will wait another year before asking for that recipe. I am sure it will be one of many we will share.
So, without a moment’s hesitation, I turned to Melissa to whip up something equally moist and delicious, with a modern twist. Her updated classic is graced by a rich and perfectly dark chocolate drizzle. She shares her secret weapon of dusting chocolate with espresso powder to heighten the chocolatey-ness. Trust me, it’s not optional.
Now I have two honey cakes that I am crazy for. Lucky me and lucky you.
And cause you know I am a committed locavore, here’s a gentle reminder to support your local beekeeper and buy a mild varietal from your local apiary or farmers’ market. It will add to the goodness, all around. As always, I turn to Red Bee honey, in Weston, CT.
Oil based cakes are a special thing. When done right, they aren’t greasy but deliciously moist, and compared to a butter based cake, improve in texture and flavor with time. Coconut milk is this cake’s secret ingredient. Here it’s a stand in for cream in the glaze without a whisper of coconut flavor to overpower the chocolate. Parve chocolate can be difficult to find, as most chocolate contains milk solids, but cookbook author Paula Shoyer introduced me to Alprose, an excellent quality and dairy free Swiss chocolate which can be found in the supermarket’s kosher aisle.
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¾ tsp fine salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup mild honey
- 2/3 cup brewed coffee (at room temperature)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- Baking spray
- ¼ cup well stirred unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
- 3 ½ oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1 ½ tsp light corn syrup
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F with rack in the middle.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together oil, honey, coffee, eggs, and sugar until smooth. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
- Coat pan with baking spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake until cake is set and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes (baking time will be in the shorter range if using a dark pan).
- Cool pan on a rack 20 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
- Once cake is cooled, heat coconut milk in a small heavy saucepan until hot. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute then stir until smooth. Whisk in espresso powder (if using) and corn syrup.
Recipe by Melissa Roberts