A Sweet New Year

As I mentioned last Wednesday,  a week ago was Rosh Hashana – the Hebrew new year.  While I am generally not that religious, I really enjoy the culture that goes along with all the Jewish holidays.  Of course, that means mainly the gatherings, songs, and the food.

There are a few food traditions for the new year, some of which I love, and some that just do not appeal to me.  For example, it is a common practice to serve a fish head at the Rosh Hashanah meal, since it’s the ‘head’ of the year.  I’ve definitely never done that one, and never really care to.  Fish heads are not my thing.

The most common tradition, is to greet the new year with apples dipped in honey, as a sign of our wishes for a sweet new year.  I think even the least religious Jews I know always take part in this one.  It’s delicious, fun, and a great way to start thinking about a new year.

There are other traditions as well, but I’ll spare you the culture lesson for now.  [[click here if you want to read more!]] The one I chose to tackle was the traditional dessert – honey cake.  It is a sweet, moist loaf cake that has a distinct honey flavor, but is not overly sweet.  If done right, it is so simple and delicious.  My family does not have a honey cake recipe that has been passed down through the generations, so I though I would try to make my own.  I did a little research and recipe formulating.  I decided to go the authentic route, and make a simple, traditional honey cake – with my favorite whole food ingredients of course.

IMG 2400

Traditional Honey Cake

This thick, moist loaf cake has the rich taste of honey without being overly sweet.  It tastes fantastic on its own, with a cup of tea, or as a part of a tasty sweet breakfast. [[makes one 9×5 loaf]] prep time: 10-15 mins, cook time: 40-50 mins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 200g (about 2c) whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/4 c sucanat
  • 2-3 tsp spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

  • 6T melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1/3 c apple juice
  • 3 large eggs at room temp, beaten


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C), and grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well combined, making sure there are no clumps in the flour.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add all the wet ingredients.  Mix by hand, with a whisk or wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and clump-free.  The batter will be thin and liquid-y.
  4. Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes – turning the cake halfway through to make sure of even baking (if you have a not-so-great oven, like mine)
  5. When the cake is done, it will be caramel / golden brown in color, and a toothpick stuck in the center should come out clean.  Be careful not to over bake. It is better to be slightly moist and under-done than dried out.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack, then promptly wrap in aluminum foil.  Let the cake ‘mature’ wrapped in foil for at least a day – that way the honey really soaks in and all the flavors combine.

[[substitution notes: feel free to use any flour mix for cake, such as whole wheat pastry, etc.  I like the light texture and nutty flavor of spelt.  You can use brown or turbinado sugar if you do not have sucanat.  Feel free to use any neutral vegetable oil as well, but I’m a big fan of coconut oil.  For the spices, choose any mixture you like – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice.  I love adding freshly ground nutmeg, it adds a subtle richness to the cake.]]

IMG 2390

drippy honey cake batter - careful not to eat it as is, this one does have raw egg!

IMG 2399

straight out of the oven - caramel colored and perfectly collapsed a bit in the center (this is good!)

IMG 2410

sliced and served, day after, at a dinner with family, and a side of pumpkin butter. 🙂

Pumpkin butter is definitely not a Rosh Hashana tradition, but I was in the mood for a sweet autumn flavor to go with my honey cake.

IMG 2403

dark, spicy, rich, dreamy.

I made Angela’s Pumpkin Butter, but halved the recipe.  It filled one standard ball jar.  I’m still enjoying this with some of my breakfasts, coffee, and snacks.

I’m curious – anyone ever tried honey cake?

What are some of your favorite holiday foodie traditions?


4 thoughts on “A Sweet New Year

  1. Looks delish! I, too love honey cake (and all other traditional foods!) around this time of year. Love your idea of pairing it with pumpkin butter – I’ll definitely give that a try!

  2. wow that looks insanely delicious!!! I have been craving a moist cake lately, not sure why but I have been 🙂 favorite holiday tradition is the sugar cookies we make every year as a family!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s