Tuesday, September 19, 2006

busy bees & honey cakes

First off, a little joke:

Buzz Off

One day, two bees are flying around what's left of a rose bush.

"How's your summer going?" asks the first bee.

"Not too well," says the second bee. "Lotsa rain, lotsa cold. Not enough flowers ... not enough pollen."

The first bee gets an idea. "Hey, why don't you go down to the corner and hang a left? There's a bar mitzvah going on. Plenty of flowers and fruit."

Bee two buzzes back, "Great, thanks!" and takes off. An hour later, the bees bump into each other again.

"How was the party?" asks the first bee excitedly.

"Great!" replies the second.

The first bee, however, notices a small circle on top of his friend's head, and asks, "What's that on your head?"

"A yarmulke," he answers. "I didn't want them to think I was a WASP."

and now from bees to honey cakes ....

important notes [if you don't already know]:

if you measure the oil for these recipes first & then use the same measuring cup to measure the honey, it will slip right out.

some people do not eat nuts during Rosh Hashanah because the hebrew numerical value for "nut" is the same as that for "sin" {and not to mention more and more people with allergies to nuts}. The cakes below provide for the optional inclusion of them and are equally delicious without the almonds.

a great baking tip:

Use a strand of uncooked spaghetti to test a cake for doneness when a toothpick isn’t long enough, or if you don’t have any toothpicks in the house.

Honey cake
photo: taken from www.abc.net.au
a contest was run in The Jerusalem Post newspaper to find the best honey cake recipe. this was the winning submission.

simple israeli honey cake {suzanne quintner's}
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup double strength black coffee
350 g [12 oz]* self-raising flour
[or make it yourself with this basic formula: 1 cup all-purpose flour and add 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt]
1 teaspoon allspice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon

*i highly suggest using 3 c (USA - type) of flour


Beat eggs, oil and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Add honey and coffee and then beat in the flour mixed with the spices gently.

Bake in a large round fluted tin [bundt/tube pan] at 170 [338 F] degrees for 1 hour or til tested it is cooked in the center. (it took mine longer to bake by up to 30 min extra).

—> after trying this recipe, i suggest using either 2 (large) loaf pans lined with parchment paper; when trying the cake with the exact measurements stated in the recipe, it resulted in a very sticky batter (which is why i say to increase the flour to 3 full cups). the cake is definitely excellent tasting and worth making.
This one is from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman and is one of the better recipes I have come across. Marcy is also from Montreal and has a great website which you can visit @ www.betterbaking.com [while it used to be free, you can still get the very basic features at no cost. it really is, however, worth the subscription — an excellent site.]

Majestic & Moist New Year's Honey Cake
Serves 8 to 10
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rye or whisky
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 F & lightly grease the pan you are using [see below].

This cake is best baked in a nine- or ten-inch angel food cake pan, but can also be made in a 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, a 9 x13-inch sheetpan, or if you wish, in three 8 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Make a well in the center, and then add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and rye or whisky. With an electric mixer on slow speed or whisk, combine the ingredients to make a thick batter. Spooning the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with the almonds. Bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center.

For tube or bundt (or angel) cake pans, bake for 60 to 70 minutes. They can be made into loaf cakes also and baked for 45 to 60 minutes. If making a sheet-style cake the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

The batter is a liquidy depending upon your oven, extra time may be needed. Let the cake stand for 15 mintues before removing it from the pan. Afterwards let cool on a wire rack completely.note: If you do not like or want whiskey, replace it with orange juice or coffee.

another very, very good cake is from levana kirschenbaum, from her book Levana's Table. her version is a little different in that it uses cardamom. i often bake this by halving the ingredients and adding 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 1/8 tsp black pepper & omit the cardamom [sometimes i also include it]. here is a picture of my version, the recipe cut in half for a loaf pan. you may leave the spices out too if you don't like them.

Levana Kirschenbaum’s Honey Cake
Makes 1 10-inch tube/bundt cake
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup very strong warm tea [2 tea bags steeped in 1 cup boiled water]
1/2 cup ground almonds, optional
3 tablespoons sliced almonds [add if using the ground almonds]

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon and ground almonds, if using. set this aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients except the sliced almonds. add the flour mixture to this in increments til well blended. do not over mix.

Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Top with the sliced almonds, if used.

Bake for 1 hour or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Invert cake onto a rack to cool.

and finally, one last cake for you to try:

Runi Hyman's [Oregon’s Kosher Maven's] Honey Cake
Makes a 10-inch tube cake

this one is from a jewish lady who used to provide meals for transient & kosher meal-seeking portlanders from the late 1920's until almost 1970. apparently Runi was a phenomenal kosher cook.

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup warm black coffee
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Place eggs, lemon juice & rind, oil, honey and coffee in a bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed until well blended. In another separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar , sugar and cinnamon with a fork until mixed. Gradually add the flour mixture to the eggs mixture, mixing for about 5 minutes or until well blended. Fold in the slivered almonds. Pour the batter into the tube pan. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.


Nafeesah said...

Heya again BB! :) ( I say again because I posted a comment to your semolina cookies earlier but my comp went dead just when I clicked submit so i have no idea if they went thru haha)

Well back on topic! First of all that idea of using a raw strand of spaghetti as a cake tester is awesome! how many times has it been that i somehow lose a WHOLE pack of those wooden skewers/toothpicks...i'll keep this in mind for next time! :)

The ingredients of first recipe of honey cake sounds similar to the recipe of a malaysian cake which is called 'Kek sarang lebah' or in other words, Bee hive cake :p it's called that because after it's steamed it has little holes like a bee hive. Oh yea, and instead of honey they make a syrup of burnt sugar.

All of these sound delicious though, must try one day God willing!

burekaboy — said...

hey nafeesah! - nice to "see" you :D unfortunately, i never received anything about the cookies :(( you may want to try posting again. love hearing from you; you always have interesting comments :D blogger is whacko and tempermental so that may also explain things.

yep, using the spaghetti strand is good as you can go deeper into the cake and you don't burn yourself. it's a fun tip :)

that's a great name for a cake, 'beehive' cake... different too, especially the steaming part. reminds me of my (asian) friend's parents' cakes. most of them are steamed, too. i guess the burnt sugar part is sort of like a caramel. sounds like a good cake.

these cakes i posted are traditional for the jewish new year in sept/oct. lots of honey gets used at that time of year. hope you enjoy if you ever get around to trying one of them.

GW said...


I was surfing the Internet last week in search of a honey cake recipe for Rosh Hashanah (5769) as I was in charge of preparing same for the dinner at my in-laws the first night.

I chose Majestic & Moist New Year's Honey Cake which I had planned to make on Sunday evening at my in-laws. However, I ended up stuck at my mother's house due to heavy rain till very late and was worried I wouldn't be able to make the cake on Monday. I decided to make the cake at Mom's. The problem was, she didn't have everything on the list "as is". Nevertheless, the cake came out just wonderful and I'd like to share the recipe as I had to do it.

3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons cinnamon (No cloves nor allspice so I turned it into an additional teaspoon of cinnamon.)
1 cup canola oil (No vegetable oil - I was worried this would somehow affect the flavor.)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used a light brown sugar, looks "blonde" really, I think it's very similar to turbinated sugar, it's not the packed kind, it's loose like regular sugar).
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee (used instant coffee, 2 tsps./cup)
1/2 cup fruit cocktail syrup (No OJ nor any other kind of juice so I opened a 15 oz. can, it had a little under 1/2 cup of syrup so I added a tiny bit of water to have the right amount)
1/4 cup dark rum (no rye nor whiskey)

Unfortunately, didn't have almonds nor any kind of nuts so we had to do without.

Mixed as per your instructions.

Mom didn't have angel food cake nor tube pan so I made it in a greased (PAM cooking spray) 10 x 13 inch pyrex. Boy, did I learn why I needed the special pan. The dough rises! It rose above the edges and poured down to the bottom of the oven but even though it spilled over, the cake still managed to come out absolutely perfect, ultra moist, and delicious. (A bit on the dense/compact side but great anyhow).

I cooked it for about 75 minutes at 350ºF.

Thanks for having posted the recipe. It was by far the easiest I've ever made regardless the amount of ingredients and the minor trouble I had with not having them all handy.

burekaboy — said...

hi gw - thank you for taking the time to come back and write up that comment - i can see it took effort on your part. i always appreciate feedback.

i'm glad the recipe, with the substitutions, worked out for you. i felt SO badly though when i read about the cake overflowing in the oven. that has happened to me before and it is quite the disaster (especially the clean up of it all). i've learned to ALWAYS bake a new recipe on a cookie sheet, preferably rimmed, so that if things do overflow, it can be caught on the sheet. honey cakes tend to do this - they rise quite a bit.

even though you didn't have all the ingredients, it sounds like it turned out GREAT. marcy goldman's recipes are usually always terrific. i see you made the best of the shortcomings in the ingredients department! :))

if you ever want a very easy and LIGHT honey cake, try the chiffon type one i just posted. it's super easy and super good - no spices needed at all :))

again, thanks for coming back and telling me how it went. wishing you a Shana Tovah & G'mar Hatima Tovah!