Thursday, September 17, 2009

Honey Cake and a New Year

This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah - which means the new year - and one of the traditional foods eaten is Honey Cake. Honey is used as an ingredient to ensure a "sweet new year."
Now, I confess, I don't really like honey cake. It just isn't my thing. But my brother loves it, and when I saw smitten kitchen's recipe for "Majestic and Moist Honey Cake," I figured I would give it a shot. With some substitutions.
Here's the thing though. The original recipe makes 3 loaf pans, or a 9x13" pan, or 2 8 inch get my drift. I really wanted to make a loaf for some inexplicable reason, and not only do I only have one loaf pan, but I am also bringing this on public transportation, and one loaf seemed like the right size for somebody who doesn't like honey cake.

So I did something bad. I cut the recipe by 2/3. It probably wasn't the best idea. It resulted in some 1/3 of a teaspoon of that and 6 tablespoons of this. And of course some fudging. But I was hoping it would be forgiving.
Another thing - the cake sank in the middle. It sank for Ms. smitten kitchen (OK, her name is Deb), and for many of her readers, and it sank for me too. After reading this I meant to decrease the leavening I used, but somewhere in the third-ing it never happened. But I don't really mind.
Anyway back to those substitutions. The recipe called for a few things I didn't have on hand. Like orange juice. However I did find some peach flavored grape juice in the back of my fridge. And in it went. And somehow, among the spices I've accumulated over the years - which include five containers of cinnamon, four onion powders and two paprikas - I have no allspice or ground cloves. I looked, I promise. So I upped the cinnamon a little and threw some nutmeg in instead. The recipe also called for some rye or whiskey, which I definitely don't have, so I just added more of the tea.

You'd think after all the questionable math and the eyebrow-raising substitutions this would be awful. I kind of thought it would be. But it really wasn't. Even me, professed honey cake hater, was impressed by the moistness and flavor of the cake. If you really hate honey cake, you're not going to love this, but it's certainly an improvement over any others I have. That's not to say that if faced with a piece of honey cake and a chocolate chip cookie, I wouldn't pick the cookie.

Tip of the Day: Small amounts of liquid in recipes can often be substituted with little problem (be a little more cautious with milk) - so try switching things out for new flavor combinations - orange and lemon juice, whiskey, brandy, tea - you never know what you can create.

Recipe: (from smitten kitchen)
Note: I am providing the original recipe, which fits in 3 loaf pans, 2 9-inch round pans, 2 8-inch square pans or 1 9x13" pan. In brackets are the quantities I used, for one loaf pan.

3 1/2 cups [1 cup plus 3 tbsp] flour
1 tbsp [1 tsp] baking powder
1 tsp [1/3 tsp] baking soda
1/2 tsp [dash] kosher salt
4 teaspoons [1 1/2 tsp] ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon [sprinkle] ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon [sprinkle] ground allspice
1 cup [1/3 cup] vegetable oil
1 cup [1/3 cup] honey
1 1/2 cups [1/2 cup] granulated sugar
1/2 cup [ 3 tbsp] brown sugar
3 [1] eggs
1 tsp [1/3 tsp] vanilla extract
1 cup [1/3 cup] warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup [3 tbsp] orange juice
1/4 cup [1 1/2 tbsp] rye or whiskey

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice (or nutmeg).
Make a well in the center and add in sugars, oil, honey, eggs, vanilla and liquids.
Whisk together until all ingredients are moistened.
Pour into well-greased pan(s) and bake on 350F following these directions:
Loaf pan: 50-55 minutes
9x13, 8 or 9-inch: 40 to 45 minutes
Tube or bundt pan: 60 to 75 minutes.

1 comment: