The Jewish New Year is one of my favorite holidays – and not just because the food is awesome. It has more to do with tradition and that autumn is my favorite season of the year. Rosh Hashanah food (here) is really more like a feast for the soul - a big harvest feast.
This month at the GF Canteen we are bringing you several Jewish New Year baked goodies, all gluten-free and dairy-free: challah, honey cake, apple honey upside down cake (out of a box series), pomegranate fig tart and kichel.
One of my favorite Jewish Holiday cookbooks is Jewish Holiday Cookbook written by Joan Nathan. Her books are a part of our treasured collection and I turn to them throughout the year, not only for the recipes but for the wonderful narratives. Over the years I’ve modified them to fit our gluten-free household, but I’ve also used them for inspiration to create some of my own recipes.
Honey cake is a traditional Rosh Hashanah dessert. Its rich honey flavor is a symbol of goodness for the coming year. My childhood version of honey cake came from Snowflake Bakery and a couple or years ago my baking hero, Milt Zeigler of Snowflake Bakery fame helped me convert that childhood favorite to a kitchen recipe. You can find that story and recipe here on Salon.com.
This particular gluten-free, dairy-free recipe is a modified adaptation of Ben Moskovitz’s Apricot Honey Cake recipe from Joan Nathan’s The Jewish Holiday Cookbook. The addition of both espresso powder and unsweetened cocoa add a depth of flavor that make the cake extra special. And don’t leave out the rum! After all, can it be a Jewish Holiday without a little sip of something spirited?
It is traditional to bake the honey cake in a round for Rosh Hashanah, but it does well in a large loaf pan, too. Or as a Madeleine Cookie as I discovered with some leftover batter.
Honey cake, like a quick bread with attitude, will undoubtedly make its annual debut on many a Rosh Hashanah dinner table this month. Just remember, honey cake is only as good as the honey you use. For this occasion, buy the best you can afford. You’ll be glad you did.
- 54 grams spectrum vegetable shortening (kosher) (1/3 cup)
- 100 grams sugar (about ½ cup)
- 3 large eggs (150 grams)
- 325 grams (1 cup) really great honey
- zest of one lemon
- zest of one orange
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 300 grams GF flour (150 grams superfine brown rice, 100 grams GF oat flour, 50 grams potato starch)
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- pinch cinnamon
- tiny pinch ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9.5×5 inch loaf pan or two mini bundt pans (3 cup) or one regular sized bundt pan with high heat baking spray.
- Weigh shortening and sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Bend together until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides as needed. Add the eggs and mix on medium high until well blended. In a small bowl weigh honey and mix in zests, vanilla and rum. Add to the stand mixer and blend thoroughly. Weigh flours in another small bowl and add espresso powder, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Whisk together. With the mixer on low, add in the flour mixture and blend thoroughly. Turn mixer on medium high and let it blend for two minutes.
- Scrape down sides with a spatula and fold all the rogue little bits into the batter. Pour batter (or scape batter is more like it) into the prepared pan(s).
- Bake about 20 minutes and rotate. Bake about 18 minutes more and keep an eye on the cake. Remove as soon as a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over-bake the cake because it will dry out. Cool for a minute or two and then invert on a rack and cool completely.
- Best served after 24 hours so the flavors can develop.
Other honey cake recipe resources: