The Best Honey Cake Yet

Submitted by Judy on Sat, 09/22/2007 - 8:17am.

from "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking" by Phyllis Glazer and Miriyam Glazer"

Makes one 12-inch loaf or two 9-inch loaves

If there is one food on everyone’s Rosh Hashanah menu, it’s honey cake. One of the Seven Species of the Bible, honey symbolizes the wish for a sweet New Year. “Inspired by the Romanian-Jewish honey cake – which is light rather than dark – this version is light as a feather and really delicious. It’s certainly the best honey cake we’ve ever tasted,” write Phyllis and Miriyam Glazer.

1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups honey
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cardamom
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-inch loaf pan or two 9-inch loaf pans. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper to facilitate removal after baking. Set aside.

Place chopped nuts in a baking pan and roast in oven for 10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from oven and let cool.

Lower heat to 300°F.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat oil, honey, egg yolks, and spices. Sift flour and baking powder and blend into honey mixture until smooth.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, continuing to beat until egg whites are stiff. Fold a small amount of egg whites into honey mixture, then fold in the rest gradually, mixing gently each time until incorporated Stir in nuts.

Carefully pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake on middle shelf of preheated oven for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center pulls out almost dry. (It will have fine crumbs stuck to it.) Place baking pan(s) on a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes before turning out on a rack to finish cooling.

Variations: Add 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger to batter instead of nuts or add 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron to batter instead of or in addition to nuts.