This honey cake represents not only tradition and renewal in the New Year, but the endurance of survivors. Holocaust survivor Ruth Webber crafts this dessert with rich ingredients like brandy, almonds and brewed coffee. This decadent honey cake will be your new Rosh Hashanah standard.
This recipe is reprinted with permission from “Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors.”
- ½ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pans
- 1½ cups honey
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- ½ cup dried cherries, cut into small pieces (If you don’t have cherries, you use something else and improvise. What can I tell you!)
- 3 Tbsp brandy
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 3½ cups plus 1-2 teaspoons
- all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cups packed brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans and line them with wax paper, then grease the paper.
- In a saucepan, bring the honey and coffee to a boil; set aside to cool.
- Soak the dried cherries in the brandy for about 30 minutes, then drain. In a small bowl, mix the almonds and cherries with 1 to 2 tsp flour to coat (this prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cake).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend ½ cup oil, sugar, and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 3½ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the mixer alternately with the coffee mixture until smooth. Fold in the almond-cherry mixture and orange zest.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a rich golden brown. Do not remove. Turn off the oven and leave the cakes in the oven to gradually cool for at least 10 minutes, to prevent them from caving.
- Continue the cooling for another 15 minutes out of the oven. Run a knife around the inside of the pan, then put a plate over the pan and flip it over. Slice and serve.