It was Rosh Hashanah a few days ago, and while I’m quite ignorant about the food traditions of the Jews, I am very fond of their baked goods. There’s pillowy challah, infinite swirls of babka, hat-like Hamantaschen with a jam centre, Jews even have their own jam-filled doughnuts! Now I stumbled upon this Marcy Goldman recipe for the classic New year Honey Cake or Lekach on Epicurious many years ago, and the original comes from A Treasury Of Jewish Holiday Baking, a classic cookbook that several bakers still go back to, almost 15 years since first print (Marcy’s recipe for classic challah and all of its festive riffs like apple and chocolate are super easy to follow). I was so taken by this cake recipe though, that I’ve made it three times in the last two years, and if you scroll down my Instagram feed, you’ll even spot my previous attempts.
When you’re a seasoned cook, some recipes you glance through and instantly know that it’s going to work, and you won’t have to change a thing. A simple one-bowl job, this Lekach is a no-brainer to make, but yields a moist and springy cake that I would gladly perch atop a stand at a tea party. It is fragrant from the citrus and honey, and loves a bit of spice, both factors that totally win me over. Much of the recipe remains the same, and I think it’s best enjoyed with some coffee, or smeared with apple and cinnamon jam, if you can manage to get your hands on some. If not, drizzle over some more honey and you’re good.
Makes one bundt cake OR one large loaf cake
Maida or all-purpose flour 2 cups
Baking powder 1/2 tbsp
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon 2 tsp, ground
Garam Masala 3/4 tsp
Vegetable Oil 1/2 cup
Honey 1/2 cup (If your honey is organic, that’s even better)
Caster sugar 3/4 cup
Brown sugar 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence 1/2 tsp
Warm and strong coffee 1/2 cup
Orange Juice 1/4 cup (please use fresh)
Whiskey 3 tbsp
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius and grease and flour a bundt pan. If you’re using one of those big 11-inch Angel Food pans with a tube in the centre in place of a bundt, double the recipe. If you’re making this in a regular sponge tin, this will yield two cakes.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, garam masala together.
Make a hole in the centre and add all the wet ingredients- the oil, the honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla essence, coffee, orange juice and whiskey.
Use a hand mixer on a low speed to combine everything together into a thick batter. Make sure the bottom go the bowl is clean and no ingredients are stuck at the bottom. Transfer the batter into the pre-prepared pan and bake for an hour. Mine takes exactly 60 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back to touch. Test if it’s done by inserting a knife into the cake- if it’s clean, it’s done. Let the cake cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning it out. Let it cool completely before cutting it.