(adapted from Joan Nathan, Marian Burros, and Marcy Goldman)
fills one 10” x 4” tube pan OR one 9½”x1½” deep dish ceramic pie plate and one 9”x5” loaf pan
(Note: Honey Cake tends to elicit raised eyebrows, a cake most of us associate with grandmothers, great aunts, and old school bakeries. Before you return to your regularly programmed Rosh Hashanah apple cake, give this one a try. It relies on honey for sweetness with a generous dose of warm spices, strong coffee, and Cognac. The cake freezes beautifully (double wrap it in plastic wrap) and both the pie plate version and the tube pan lend themselves to Rosh Hashanah when we gravitate towards circular shapes, symbolizing the continuation of life.)
2 generous cups of dried fruit, diced (apricots, dates, figs, prunes)
3-4 tablespoons Cognac
Place the fruit in a medium bowl, toss with the Cognac and transfer the mixture to a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Let the fruit macerate overnight in the refrigerator.
Coffee Whipped Cream- (unless you are serving a dairy-free meal)
1 cup cold whipping cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I use Medaglia D’Oro)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large chilled bowl, combine cream, brown sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Beat until cream thickens, forming soft peaks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
Halvah- for garnish
2 ounces coffee flavored halvah, diced (Halvah is available at most grocery stores and also from Russ & Daughters or Seed + Mill in NYC.)
For the cake-
Line the bottom of the tube pan (or the loaf pan) with parchment paper, cut to fit, then lightly grease the pan (and the parchment) with vegetable oil and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. If you are using a deep-dish pie plate, lightly grease it with vegetable oil, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. Put on a pot of coffee; some for the baker and some for the cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange your oven racks to accommodate either the tube pan or the pie plate and the loaf pan; you will want to bake these on the middle rack of your oven.
3½ cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
Sift together the dry ingredients onto a large sheet of parchment paper. If you are using walnuts, add ½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts to the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together:
3 large eggs, room temperature
1¼ cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
grated zest of 1 thick-skinned orange
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup warm black coffee
¼ cup Cognac
You can mix the cake by hand or use a standing mixer. I get the best results by placing all of the sifted dry ingredients into the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, give the dry ingredients a whirl to combine and aerate them. Gradually add the Eggs/Sweets/Liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed, making sure to periodically turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and the very bottom of the bowl. Make sure the batter is thoroughly combined.
Place the tube pan OR the pie plate and loaf pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and bake on the middle rack of the pre-heated 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake(s) comes out clean. The tube pan should take between 55-60 minutes and the loaf pan about the same. The pie plate generally takes a little less, about 45 minutes. Transfer the cake(s) to a wire rack to cool completely. The cakes are best baked the day before serving and wrapped in plastic wrap. You can turn the tube cake out of the pan and wrap it, same for the loaf cake; leave the “pie” plate as is, covered in plastic wrap.
Serve honey cake with Tipsy Fruit, diced halvah, and Coffee Whipped Cream. (Refrigerate any fruit or whipped cream leftovers.)