September always feels like the real beginning of the year for me. Oliver heads back to school, work gets busier after the lull of the summer and Martin jumps into action at Pangaea with the Toronto International Film Festival. In fact, the kinetic pace that doesn’t really stop until the last New Year’s Eve revelers leave Martin’s restaurant, catch a cab and head home.
That’s why I love the idea of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish celebration of their calendar’s new year. Although I’m not Jewish, I have many very close friends who do practice that faith and who will be observing Rosh Hashanah at the end of the week. So in their honour, I’m featuring a recipe from Marcy Goldman’s wonderful new book A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. In her header notes, Marcy notes that this cake can be made several days ahead and just gets moister and more delicious as it sits, so why not make it tonight for the weekend?
Marcy Goldman’s Majestic & Moist New Year’s Honey Cake
(excerpted with permission)
3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
11⁄2 cups white sugar
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1⁄2 cup fresh orange juice
1⁄4 cup rye or whisky (see note below)
1⁄2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)
I like this cake best baked in a 9-inch angel food cake pan, but you can also make it in a 10-inch tube or Bundt cake pan, a 9- by 13-inch sheet pan, or three 8-by 41⁄2-inch loaf pans.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the pan(s). For tube and angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper. For gift honey cakes, I use “cake collars” (available from Sweet Celebrations) designed to fit a specific loaf pan. These give the cakes an appealing, professional, look.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.
Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the top of the
cake(s) evenly with the almonds. Place the cake pan(s) on 2 baking sheets stacked together and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. For angel and tube cake pans, bake for 60 to 70 minutes; loaf cakes, 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquidy batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time. Cake should spring back when gently pressed. Let the cake stand for 15 minutes
before removing it from the pan. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
NOTE: If you prefer not to use the whisky, replace it with orange juice or coffee.