New Honey Cake Recipe!
Rosh Hashanah meals include sweetly symbolic foods for the new year. I always bake honey cakes to enjoy during the Days of Awe from Joan Nathan’s book, The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, published in 1979. The first few times I baked honey cakes, I got creative and added cardamom to her long list of spices. Mr. Tess noted that it was not like his grandmother’s; he also said he liked it. After that, I followed Ms. Nathan’s recipe to the letter. It’s a good cake, if a bit heavy.This year I tried a new recipe from Melissa Clark from The New York Times: lovely, light, not cloyingly sweet, and the spices shine, especially the cardamom which is reminiscent of my grandmother’s Finnish pulla bread. So that brings us full circle, one grandmother to another, most appropriate for the cycle of generations, seasons, and years celebrated during this holiday.

Red Wine Honey Cake With Plums
adapted from Melissa Clark, The New York Times

  • 2½ cups flour
    (yikes!! all I had was bread flour!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • note: I missed the golden raisins from my old honey cake recipe
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups olive oil
  • ¾ cup good quality honey
  • 1 cup dry red wine
    note: I knew I was supposed to have 1¾ cups of liquid but mis-read the amounts for wine and honey so I had more wine than honey—this is a very forgiving recipe!
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1½ pounds ripe purple (yellow) plums
  • 1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme leaves, or regular thyme leaves, plus branches for garnish
    note: I didn’t use the thyme.

Grease 2 bread pans with olive oil and dust with flour
Place a rack in the middle of the oven; pre-heat to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
In another large bowl, whisk eggs well. Whisk in sugar, oil, 1 cup honey, the wine and the fresh
ginger until well combined. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth.
Pour batter into pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then unmold the cake and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pit and quarter plums. In a medium bowl, toss plums with remaining 2 tablespoons honey and the thyme. Add more honey to taste and let macerate for at least 30 minutes.
Serve cake sliced and garnished with plums and thyme branches.

…It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the lychee, longan, and mamoncillo. It is native to the Indonesian Archipelago, from where it spread westwards to Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka and India; northwards to Vietnam, and the Philippines.…
The name rambutan is derived from the Malay/Indonesian word rambutan, meaning “hairy rambut the word for “hair” in both languages…

from wikipedia


rambutan fruitrambutan in a clam shell
how to eat rambutanpeeled rambutan


5 thoughts on “New Honey Cake Recipe!

  1. What an interesting find! I’m certainly going to give this or a variation of this a try during this holiday month. Thanks for sharing it, Tess.

    • Don’t be scared when the batter turns a really ugly color when you add the wine. Once baked, it’s beautiful. BTW Ms. Clark used a bundt pan rather than bread pans—mine is lost somewhere, but the bread pans worked fine.

        • I had a really nice heavy-weight 6-cup version, with a black teflon coating, and a later 12-cup version which was very light-weight. I made cakes, if I remember correctly from The Vegetarian Epicure and from Pillsbury Bake-off Contest booklets before they turned into contests to use only their “consumer” products. It was a fashion for “poke and pour” fillings and “monkey bread” back in the late ’70’s and early 80’s. Gosh, there were even rice and Jello molds that were popular a bit earlier.

          The real Nordicware has an interesting history, which I looked into a few times. Maybe a good idea for a post? not very Japanese, though… My baking old pans were very scratched, and when we moved I was in a mode of “toss it” if you don’t use it.

          • Sounds lovely and I actually remember those bakeoffs! I still have some flyers from the Minnesota State Fair.

            Nordicware’s offices/outlet was right around the corner from where I lived in Mpls. It was such a temptation! I’d certainly be interested in hearing what you discovered, but you’re right, not very Japanese. :)

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