Monday, September 17, 2012

New Year Honey Cake

We are sharing this family recipe to celebrate the arrival of the Jewish New Year, thanks to my mother-in-law. She bakes this honey cake not only for the party, but also to renew thoughts and sentiments. Preparing and baking the cake is such a unique time for her, that she once wrote a poem about it called Honey Cake. 

The recipe was published in the late '70s in Aonde Vamos, a magazine edited by her mother-in-law, Mrs. Esther, in Brazil. Since then, Myrna has been improving it, and it has always been a success in the family and a treasured gift to be given to her friends.

Myrna fondly recalls the memories form her grandma, Mme. Schaak, who used to love the cake: "She would keep it in a tin and would eat it even one month after! Grandma used to say that the cake just got better with time," she tells.

Yesterday afternoon I prepared this cake with some help from the kids, and we brought the recipe to life with all its meanings. As I was putting together ingredients and measuring cups and spoons, I thought about the poem. I didn't have enough regular flour, so I ended up using part of whole wheat flour. But I was sure that it was going to work. As part of her poem said, it was time for a cake "flexible, balanced, made in a sensitive way with lots of taste and warm colors."As the poem ends: "I shall fill it with love." And there it was.

What a wonderful way of bringing generations of families together when baking and celebrating. Shanah Tovah!

Honey Cake (Lekach)

I used 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, which gave the cake a bread-like texture. Also kids worked with a nuts chopper and helped to pour the honey. We mixed all wet ingredients separately, integrating them into the dry ingredients with a spatula. Baking time was reduced to 60 minutes, when the crust was already very browned, maybe because of the flour difference.  What a fantastic recipe!

3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
3/4 cups sugar (preferably brown turbinado sugar)
4 tablespoons oil (canola)
2 cups honey (preferably dark, but it can be any available)
1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raisins

To prepare the walnuts, break them inside a plastic bag, pounding them with a meat mallet. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix in a stand mixer up until it's all well mixed. Bake in a two metal or ceramic loaf molds for around 70 minutes. 

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