I’m not a big fan of honey cakes, but once a year, for Rosh Hashanah, I bake one. Symbolically it conveys the wish for a sweet new year. And because I am always looking to improve on the ones I baked before, I collect honey cake recipes.
This year, I decided to make one in my collection titled Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake. You can see the recipe here: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/majestic-and-moist-new-years-honey-cake-350153
Looking at the recipe, right off I decided to make some changes.
First, it looked like this cake would be much too sweet. In addition to 1 cup honey, it called for 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup brown sugar. So, I reduced the sugars to 1 cup white + 1/4 cup brown.
Then, to make it a bit healthier, I planned on subbing 1 cup white whole wheat flour for one cup white flour.
Finally, I thought brandy would taste better than rye or whiskey.
To make the batter, I added the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a bowl. Next, it said to add spices. Unbeknownst to me, at that point, the recipe in my notebook stuck to a preceding honey cake recipe and I ended up adding the wrong spices - instead of 4 tsp. cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, I added 2 tsp. cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. I immediately realized my error and added more cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to the cake batter.
Next, I transferred the batter to a 10” tube pan and sprinkled sliced almonds on top. I set the timer for 1 hour, put the pan in the oven, and left the kitchen. When I returned, 30 minutes later to check on it, I found, to my horror, that half the batter had leaked out of the pan. Luckily, the spillage was captured by a sheet pan that was placed beneath the tube pan. So, I took both pans out of the oven, lined the bottom of the tube pan with aluminum foil and consolidated both portions of the batter into it. There was some batter lost because it had begun to harden and stuck on the sheet pan. Also, the sliced almonds were no longer decorating the top - they were now mixed into the batter. I thought the cake was now too low, so, to increase the volume, I added 3/4 cup raisins.
When it came out of the oven, it looked okay, but I was worried about how it would taste.
Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. It was by far the best tasting honey cake I’d ever made. In fact, I liked it so much that I might make it even when it’s not a holiday.
Here’s the recipe I would now use:
My Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strong Earl Grey tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a non-leaking 10”-tube pan. Line bottom with lightly greased parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, tea, orange juice, and brandy.
Using an electric mixer, on low speed, combine the ingredients to make a thick batter. Stir in the raisins and 1/4 cup of the almonds.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the rest of the sliced almonds over the top. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 60-70 minutes until the cake springs back when touched gently in the center.
Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Invert on a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.