Brandied Honey Cake

Tonight begins Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, and the beginning of the Days of Awe, when the Book of Life is opened and your fate for the new year is written down. Between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, about ten days hence, one thinks about the past year, vows made and broken, and how one has lived one’s life. These days allow a person to contemplate how they can live a better life in the coming year.

During this season, it is traditional to serve food containing honey, with the hope that the new year will be sweet. Honey cake, served after the evening services, is traditional, and goes well with tea or coffee at any time.

Brandied Honey Cake

1 3/4 cups of honey
1 cup of strong coffee
3 Tablespoons of brandy, divided
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 chopped raisins
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
4 large eggs
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ounce chopped almonds (optional)

Bring honey and coffee to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Remove from heat and cool completely. Stir in 2 tablespoons of brandy.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Spray a 10 inch tube pan with cooking spray. HINT: I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of my tube pan. I sprayed the pan, and then sprayed the parchment paper after I used it to line the pan. This makes it a lot easier to get the cake out of the pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves ginger, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Add raisins and lemon zest. Whisk together. Beat eggs lightly in the large bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed. Add honey mixture, sugar, and oil. Beat until smooth and well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until center springs back when lightly pressed with a finger and top of cake is golden. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. While the cake is still warm, poke the top all over with a thin skewer, and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of brandy over it. Loosen the cake around the edges with a sharp knife and remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove parchment paper from bottom of cake. If you are using the almonds, brush the top of the cake lightly with honey and sprinkle the almonds over it. With almonds, this makes 18 servings, at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: The recipe I got this from called for chopping the almonds and adding them to the cake at the point where you add the raisins. I found that the bits of almond gave the cake a distressing texture, rather like sand in the cake – but maybe you will like that technique better than I did.

TRUE CONFESSION: You may wonder why there is no picture of a glorious tall and beautiful tube cake, strewn with almonds. Instead, there are some fetching slices. That is because about an hour after I took the cake from the oven, it looked like this:

The entire center had collapsed, because IT WASN’T COOKED. I was working from home, baking between wrestling spreadsheets. Somehow, the timer got turned off, which I realized when I went into the kitchen to check on things. I looked at the cake and it needed more cooking, so I gave it 20 minutes more. By then, it was tall and beautiful, and it sprang back when I poked it. So I took it out of the oven. But it lied. It was not cooked. It sprang back falsely. So, in desperation, once it cooled, I cut out the raw middle, and made narrow slices of the cooked outer rim.

May you be written down for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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