October 11, 2011

A Sweet New Year

It's traditional to eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashana, to celebrate a sweet new year. I can't let RH pass by without honey cake, and each year I like to try a new recipe. This one is from Smitten Kitchen, and I really loved all the spices! It's got a great honey flavor, accented by just a wee bit of whiskey...so definitely NOT kid friendly. But, we gobbled it right up.

Deb (SK herself) played around with the leavening for this recipe, and I think it made for a bit of a dense and chewy cake. However, the flavor was so fantastic that it overshadowed any small textural concerns. Also, I've learned that I've become a bit of a baked goods snob and must critique anything I make. Other people don't notice the small details I obsess over, so...yeah. I wonder if they have a support group for this. Oh, and I wonder if I should bring cupcakes to the first meeting?

Honey Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder [see Deb's update I C&P'd below]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup rye or whiskey
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

*leavening note from Deb (her original attempt resulted in delicious, but sunken cakes):
Update 9/29/11: It only took me three years guys, but I finally got back to this cake today. My hunch was that the sinking was caused by too much leavener. I made this cake in a tube pan today with 1 teaspoon not tablespoon of baking powder (keep the baking soda level the same) and voila, no sinking! The cake has a beautiful, tall dome and my apartment smells like the heavens above. I now cautiously recommend you use this adjusted amount of baking powder instead; cautiously because I’ve only retested the cake in a tube pan and not the other sizes yet, but if you do with this adjustment, please let us know in the comments. Happy honey cake-ing!

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.