Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to make your honey cake not suck

Happy Jew Year, everybody. This one snuck up on us, didn't it?
It's recently come to my attention that a lot of people absolutely hate honey cake. (see Serious Eats this week, recent twitter conversations, etc.)  I find this very, very sad as I love the stuff - but then, as the bad Jew that I am, I didn't grow up with the manischewitzs boxed crap. I only seriously started eating honey cake a few years ago when I became a regular at the piroshky and russian bakery place in Seattle, and then put my own recipe together when I moved away and couldn't get the good stuff. But APPARENTLY, honey cake is usually too dry, too crumbly, too sweet or too honey-ey. Really people, honey-ey? You seem to like honey in pretty much everything else, jeez.

How to make honey cake not suck:

1 - Think the technique for muffins. Muhhhhhhfinnnnns. What do we do with muffins, boys and girls? Thats right, we don't over-mix them. Because it makes them tough. Like bad honeycake.

2 - Maximize the moistness. Again, muffins are a good reference point. (Lay off, okay? I like muffins. They're like the only thing I can bake well) AKA, Fat. Oil works but so does plain whole milk yogurt, and I use half and half of each.

I made a plum cake for last Rosh Hashanah while guest posting over at Cook Local, which uses the honey cake recipe. This year, my Jew Year's resolution is to try and lose some of this weight that I gained since moving to San Francisco, so no gooey caramelly plum topping for me. Damn you, San Fran, and your tasty eats!

This honey cake is moist, and yes, it IS sweet but that's kind of the point of honey cake. There's good spice, but not too much. It would be great with whipped cream, and yes, if you want to make the caramel from the plum cake recipe, that works too. On the side for me, please.

Honey Cake
Adapted from several russian-style recipes and Smitten Kitchen for basic dry-wet ratio
This cake uses strongly brewed tea instead of coffee - I use Sadaf cardamom tea, cos that's what we drink in my house. Good earth or tiger tea would do beautifully too.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp tea masala
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup amber honey
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strongly brewed  sweet-spicy tea
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, tea, and orange juice. PRO TIP - measure your oil before your honey, so the honey doesn't stick to the measuring cup.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet. Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
  5. Grease two loaf pans, or cake pans, or muffin pans, or whatever. Bake until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean (about 40 minutes by my oven for loaf pans) - let cool. This is actually better the next day if you can wait that long...


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme said...

Your honey cake looks delicious! I've never made one but think I must try it now :-)

Judimae said...

Happy New Year, Jennifer. Your honey cake recipe looks amazing and interesting with an interesting twist using tea. I grew up with Jewish honey cake for Rosh Hashana for many years. My mom's recipe went with her to heaven -- it was the best most luscious cake that I ever had. This recipe looks terrific and I will bookmark it along with your blog. Thanks for sharing.


marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Love the addition of yogurt and tea to this honey bread. I am sure it does not suck!

Mary said...

Your recipe sounds delicious. I found my way here via the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog competition. I've really enjoyed my visit and hope to track your progress through the various legs of the competition. Have a fabulous day. Good luck! Blessings...Mary