It’s Rosh Hashanah and you need something to take to a little new year celebration that your friends have invited you to. What should you make? My vote would be for a honey cake, as they are fairly traditional, easy to make and very tasty.
I first spotted the recipe for this Ukrainian Honey Cake at The Wednesday Chef, where I was inspired to give it a try after Luisa’s review. The original recipe comes from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World and while I liked the simplicity of the cake in loaf form, I decided to change it up a little to make the cake just a bit fancier.
I baked my honey cake in a 9-inch round pan and replaced the butter in the recipe with oil, to make the cake non-dairy (feel free to use melted butter if you are making the cake yourself, but the non-dairy version tends to work better if you actually are making this to serve for Rosh Hashanah). I spread a little bit of lemon icing on top of the cake to give it a finished look and an extra pop of flavor. The icing is also non-dairy, but you can leave the cake plain or serve it with just a dusting of powdered sugar, if you prefer. You can clearly taste the honey in the cake, with the slightest hint of coffee in the background, but all the flavors are brought together well by the icing. It is a light, but fairly filling, cake that is best served with tea or coffee.
My final note about this cake is that it will stay moist for several days if kept well-wrapped, and even seems to improve in flavor over time, as some of the honey notes become more pronounced. So don’t let the fact that I presented this as a holiday dessert put you off of trying it; it’s just as good on any random day as it is for a holiday.
Honey Cake with Lemon Glaze
2 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coffee, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, honey and vegetable oil until smooth.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of this mixture to the honey mixture, followed by the coffee and the remaining dry ingredients. Stir until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold them into the honey batter. Make sure the egg whites are completely incorporated and the batter is uniform in color when finished.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Turn cake out of pan, remove parchment paper and reinvert on a wire to cool completely. If you will not be serving the cake right away, store it in an airtight container when cool.
Top cake with lemon glaze (recipe below) and let it set before serving.
1 cup powdered/confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
lemon juice (fresh, if possible)
In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Add enough lemon juice to make the icing spreadable, but not too runny (start with 1-2 tbsp and add more if necessary. You can always add a bit of extra sugar to thicken it if you add too much) and stir until very smooth. Spread on top of cake. Allow to set for at least 20-30 minutes before slicing.