On the day before Yom Kippur it is customary to ask for and receive lekach (honey cake – signifying a sweet year) from someone, usually one’s mentor or parent. One of the reasons given for this custom is if it had been decreed, G‑d forbid, that during the year we should need to resort to a handout from others, the decree should be satisfied with this asking for food.
This recipe for moist honey cake by Marcy Goldman, from her cookbook, “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking,” takes everything you thought you knew about honey cake (dry, dense, crumbly) and turns it on its head. It is moist, fluffy and flavorful.
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup whiskey (I have successfully substituted this with either coffee, tea, orange juice or applesauce)
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the rest of the ingredients. Using a strong wire whisk or an electric beater on low speed, mix until you get a thick, smooth batter.
Pour batter into well-greased pans. I used a large bundt pan. This recipe makes quite a lot of batter, so depending on the size pans you use, you may have some left over. You can pour the leftover batter into another pan, or into a cupcake tin and make some honey cupcakes.
Bake at 350° F until a skewer comes out clean, approximately 50 to 60 minutes for a bundt pan. Oven temperatures vary tremendously, and the type of pan you use also influences baking time, so do the toothpick test rather than relying on the clock.