Mmm! Warm Honey Cake. Doesn’t that smell good! Mine just arrived Monday afternoon, by FedEx, quite a few days after Rosh Hashannah last week, but honey cake keeps exceptionally well, as honey has a natural antibiotic qualities.
So, my Mother and I will enjoy the cake my husband and daughter baked with such love, and it will re-inforce the bonds which have kept Jewish families together through thousands of years of forced diaspora, in every nook and cranny around the world. We are, indeed, the first global tribe and first global cuisine.
This is our year 5768, acknowledging us as having the most ancient, organized calendar and community still in existence. Archeologists have recently found the remains of the oldest apiary and it was in Israel, being used by bee-keepers in about 900 B.C.E. That is why Israel has always been called the Land of Milk and Honey.
Erev Rosh Hashannah began in the evening of Wednesday, September 12, when 3 stars could be seen all in the same view of the sky — the Jewish “day” always begins in the evening, as it says in Genesis, ‘And there was evening, and there was morning, the First Day’. So, now a New Year had begun. And, our traditional greeting is “L’shana tova tiketevu”, which translates to ‘May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!’.
Jews actually have several “new year” celebrations. The next one will be in January / February to celebrate the New Year of Trees, as the fruit trees of our Northern Hemisphere stir from winter dormancy and return to life. Blessings for the most simple yet profound occasions and an appreciation, moment by moment, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year and lifetime by lifetime are always present in the thoughts of spiritual people, regardless of their “religious” pursuasion.
Another “new year” will be when we begin to read the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, the Old Testament) at it’s beginning chapters, in Genesis, again.
For Jews, Rosh Hashannah, and the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, which is celebrated 10 days later, are times of introspection and gratitude, rather than raucous celebration. So, only in subtle ways, are there the delights for the body, and Honey Cake is traditional, along with a sweet, round braided challah bread, sometimes with little ladders or birds on it, so our ‘prayers ascend to Heaven’. These are traditional foods only eaten at this time. Roundness is the preferred shape as it symbolizes continuity, completeness and the cyclicity of Life etc.
Just like the first bite of matzah at Passover, Honey Cake at Rosh Hashannah brings forth memories and hopes.
It’s hard to balance where to put Honey Cake on the Health Scale. There are so many ways to make it, and many are far too sweet for diabetics. Honey, although natural, is still high on the glycemic scale, but it is a yin, alkaline food, so helpful in the pH battle against body acidity.
I prefer to use Y. S. Raw Honey, but raw honey should not be given to any child under 3 years old, as all honey contains botulism spores, potentially. Cooking honey changes its structure and our body’s relationship to it, so I prefer to cook with it as little as possible, but if I have to, I prefer to start with a raw honey, so it is cooked once, not multiple times. http://www.ysorganic.com/organic.html
Honey bees are our world’s hardest workers, and we will be in dire straits if the honey bees continue to killed off as they have been for the last 2 years, in huge numbers, several places in the world. This is an ecological disaster in the making. So far, entymologists are looking at a viral cause. Keep up on this topic!
So far, on the internet, I have not found any Honey Cake recipes where people have experimented with the low glycemic sweeteners such as stevia or agave nectar. If I have time, I will adapt the best recipe I find to use an equivalent partial or whole substitution using agave — which is basically a form of cactus “honey” or syrup.
I’ll ammend my post here when I get around to that recipe, but for now, here are a couple of the more interesting honey-cake type recipes I found.
And, Jews will make Honey Cake one more time — for the harvest festival of Sukkot, a few days after Yom Kippur, so you can still enjoy these cakes in a timely fashion, especially in the little outdoor Tabernacles where orthodox Jews live during Sukkot or on your patio in the still, clear days and evenings of Autumn, under a harvest moon.
I think this first recipe below (based on one from Dr. Bruce Fife, ND) is a good one to experiment with. Originally, these were Honey Muffins and they are NOT a traditional Jewish Honey Cake, but I think I’ll not divide the recipe in muffin tins and make it as an 8″ cake instead — worth a try. I will use buckwheat honey, as that is what I always use and it is most traditional for Ashkanazi Jews from Europe.
So, here’s another no-gluten, coconut recipe for those with celiac, sprue, Chrohn’s or other gluten intolerance or just a taste for adventure!
NON-TRADITIONAL, LOW GLYCEMIC, HONEY MUFFINS or CAKE
This is a basic coconut flour muffin recipe you can use to make as a base for other-flavored muffins, too.
3 eggs – free-range and Omega-3 supplemented (do not reduce the number of eggs!)
2 T organic butter, melted
2 T coconut milk, (or almond or hemp or rice milk) or organic whole milk
3 T honey (buckwheat preferred, for Jewish-style honey cake)
¼ t Celtic sea salt
¼ t organic vanilla extract
¼ C sifted organic coconut flour (put coconut in food processor to very fine flour or purchase)
¼ t baking powder (non-aluminum type like Rumford’s)
Blend together eggs, butter, coconut milk, honey, salt, and vanilla. Combine coconut flour with baking powder and thoroughly mix into batter until there are no lumps.
Pour batter into greased muffin cups or (1) an 8″ round cake pan, also greased.
If making as muffins, bake at 400 degrees F (205 C) for 15 minutes. Makes 6 muffins.
BUT — You will need to reduce the heat to 325 and cook it longer for an 8″ cake — it will probably take about 30 – 35 minutes or so. Keep checking and do be prepared to cover the top with aluminum foil if it browns too fast.
To know if it is done, poke a wooden skewer into the center, and only dry crumbs or no crumbs should cling to it. If anything moist is on the skewer, bake the cake longer. It is also “done” when it begins to pull away from the sides. Let it cool in the pan, then turn it out to finish cooling completely on a wire cake rack.
If you try this, please write in to tell us how it worked out, if I don’t report first.
from Epicurious.com archive:
Ben Moskowitz’ and his Mother’s Honey Cake
1/2 C dried apricots, roughly chopped (Australian, unsulphured are best)
1/4 C dark rum (Marsala wine is more traditional, until 500 years ago, anyway)
2 large eggs – organic, free-range and Omega-3 supplemented
1 C clover honey (use buckwheat, if possible, or orange blossom)
1/3 C oil (use olive oil, as Italian Jews do, or safflower or grapeseed)
Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon – organic preferred
Grated peel and juice of 1 orange – organic preferred
1/3 C sugar (others have eliminated this ingredient; I won’t include it either)
1 t salt – use Celtic sea salt
1/3 C apricot jam – use a 100% fruit-only “jam”
1 3/4 C white rye or unbleached all-purpose flour – organic preferred
1/4 C cake or unbleached all-purpose flour – organic preferred
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C slivered almonds, or roughly chopped walnuts (nuts are usually not used at Rosh Hashannah)
In a small bowl, soak the apricots in the liqueur for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 10×5-inch loaf pan (make sure you measure your loaf pan, as they vary widely in size).
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Stir in the honey, oil, grated lemon and orange rind and juice, sugar, salt, and apricot jam.
Sift the 2 flours into another bowl. Remove 1/4C of the flour to use to toss the drained apricots, below. Add the baking soda to the rest of the flour. Mix it in well.
Strain the apricots, reserving the excess liquid. Toss the drained apricots into the reserved 1/4C of flour. This dries them a little and helps them “suspend” in the batter. Return the unused flour to the larger bowl of dry ingredients.
Add the flour alternately with the alcohol to the honey-egg-citrus cake mixture. Fold in the apricots. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the nuts (if using them).
Make sure the cake batter is level before putting it in the oven, as this mix does not level-out on its own.
Bake in the oven on the lower rack for 50-55 minutes, or until the center of the cake is firm when you press it (and use the instructions I gave about the wooden skewer technique).
Remove from the oven and cool in the pan, on a rack. When cool, remove the cake from its pan, and make sure it is completely cool before wrapping for freezing, mailing and can be kept out in an airtight container for several days, otherwise refrigerate.
Makes 1 Cake.
Notes and Suggestions:
— additionally, use parchment baking paper in the base of a metal cake pan. Some people have also suggested using tube pans, but this will need time adjustments, as the cakes will cook faster due to heat coming more quickly to the center. Some mention using silicon pans and that they cook more evenly, but I am not going to use them as I believe that it is likely that at least some silicon will be ingested.
— some said to add 1/2t more baking soda
— 5x5x3 mini loaf pans were done in about 35 minutes
— add 1/4t cinnamon
— spelt flour would be a traditional flour used in the ancient Mid-East; substitute it for the same amount of rye or unbleached wheat flour
From The Jerusalem Post:
Suzanne Quintner’s Basic Israeli Honey Cake – Ashkanazi-Style
1 C bland oil – use olive oil, or (tasteless) safflower or grapeseed oils
1 C brown sugar – use Succanat, a natural, brown sugar
1 C honey – use buckwheat or orange-blossom
1 C double strength black coffee – cooled, close to room temperature
350g self-raising flour* 1oz. = 28gms that would be approx. 12 ½ oz of flour; measure on scale
1 t allspice
1 t cinnamon
Beat the eggs, oil and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Add honey and cooled coffee and then beat in the flour gently, a little at a time. Bake in a large round fluted tin (bundt pan) at 170 degrees for 1 hour (this seems low to me; may take more time).
* self-rising flour is available in America. You must look for it, and it has the leavening ingredients (baking soda, baking powder etc ) already included in it.
Daniel Rogov’s Sefardi Honey Confection – Muhallabia
Sefardi Jews are those who remained in the Middle East and all around the Mediterranean countries, traditionally, with premier communities in Moorish Spain and in Italy and in Morrocco. Their cuisine always reflects the foods of these sunny climes.
100 gr. (6 oz.) very fine sugar (use a natural, brown sugar and whizz-it finer in a Cuisinart)
1 1/4 C sweet white wine (use a Marsala)
5 T honey (use orange-blossom)
1 t grated lemon rind
pinch of ground cinnamon
4 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
For this first cooking step, please watch the pan the whole time. Do not leave it for a moment; be careful pouring it, too. Keep children out of the kitchen completely while you do this first step.
___ In a heavy skillet slowly heat the sugar in 2 tsp. of water, stirring regularly, until the sugar has melted and turned into a caramel syrup. Immediately pour the syrup into a cake tin, tilting so that the entire bottom of the tin is coated. Let cool.
___ In a saucepan heat the wine and honey, stirring until the honey dissolves. Add the cinnamon and lemon rind, stirring well. Remove from the flame and let cool 5 – 6 minutes.
___ In a mixing bowl beat together the egg yolks and whole eggs. Add these to the honey-wine mixture, beating until well blended, and pour into the cake tin. Place the tin in a large pot of water (be sure that the water is not higher than 1 cm. (1/2 “) from the lip of the tin) and bake in a medium oven until the mixture is set (about 45 minutes).
Let cool for 15 – 20 minutes and then refrigerate.
Just before serving, run a thin knife blade around the edges to loosen the sides and invert onto a chilled serving dish.
Have fun. Enjoy these cakes and let me know if and how you adapt them. When I get a chance to make my changes, I’ll let you know, but I’m taking care of my Mother at the moment, and it’s taking most of my time.
Best to all — Em
(c)2007 Em https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com
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