Here’s a little secret you’re unlikely to hear from your financial advisor. Just before Yom Kippur have a friend feed you a slice of honey cake. Two slices even. And not because the sweet carbs will help you fast better. A pre Yom Kippur gift of honey cake, also called Lekach is the secret to a debt free New Year.
Here’s why. We don’t know what G-d wrote into those big books that He opened up on Rosh Hashana, but let us imagine that He decreed that someone was to “eat the bread of others” That sounds pretty awful right? Yet for centuries, Jews have fulfilled this decree with sweetness by sharing honey cake with eachother. In many synagogues honey cake is given out at Yom Kippur eve morning services for this reason.
To be perfectly honest, I was never a great honey cake fan. That’s because the only honey cakes I ever ate were the store bought kind–sticky, sickly sweet, not really worth the calories. But home made honey cake is something else entirely. It’s complex, subtle, even slightly smoky in flavor and quite exquisite especially paired with a cup of coffee or tea.
This recipe comes from the ‘Art of Jewish Cooking” by Jennie Grossinger . Jennie was the founder and doyenne of Grossinger’s the legendary and now defunct Catskills resort that bore her name. More than lush grounds,golf courses, lakes and top line entertainment Grossinger’s was fabled for it’s cuisine. The hotel featured an all you can eat policy. Guests could sample everything on the menu for the price of one meal and they did . Jennie provided delicious, homestyle cuisine the memory of which is preserved in her best selling cookbook.
In the 60s, when I was a kid, Jennie’s cookbook was a staple. From 1959 when it was first released until the last edition in 1977 it went through 31 printings, quite an achievement when you consider that today the average shelf life for a new book is four months. You can still order a used copy on amazon.
So here’s Jennie’s honeycake. It’s quite easy and delicious and it freezes well too. Enjoy
Preheat oven to 325 F or 160 C
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t powdered cloves
1/2 t ginger
1/4 cup oil
2 cups honey
1/2 cup coffee
1 1/2 cups walnuts or almonds (optional)
Sift dry ingredients together
Beat the eggs until light gradually adding the sugar, oil, honey and coffee
Combine wet and dry ingredients
Spray two 9 inch loaf pans with Pam
Bake at 160 C or 325 F for 50 minutes.