Jewish honey cake is traditionally served at Rosh Hashanah, but all Shirley Tedesco knows is that her new neighbor, Muriel Shapiro, loves the stuff. Besides, it’s only January, and Shirley is desperate. At least she takes the time to discover Muriel’s heritage as well as her preferences in desserts.
From the deep wells of kindness that abide in Shirley’s heart, she uses the delicious cake to make inroads with Muriel. And while her motives are pure—she really does want to become close with the shy Jewess from New Jersey—if pressed to admit, Shirley also needs a babysitter who has never experienced her brood of eight unholy terrors.
The following recipe is the one I had in mind for Shirley to present as a peace-offering prior to Muriel experiencing the Tedesco horde. When Muriel agrees to babysit, she has to watch the twins, Holly and Noelle. Unfortunately, the twins are disgruntled at being the only siblings without plans for the evening, and they take it out on their unsuspecting babysitter. There isn’t enough honey cake in the world to repair the damage the girls inflict upon poor Muriel.
Jewish Honey Cake
3 ½ c unbleached flour
1 t baking soda
1 T baking powder
1 t cinnamon
½ t ginger
¼ t cloves
¼ t nutmeg
Dash of allspice
4 extra large eggs
1 ¼ c packed dark brown sugar
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t vanilla
1 ¾ c honey
1 c very strong coffee (decaf is fine)
1 c golden raisins
1 c whole or half candied or plain almonds
Preheat oven to 300° F. Grease and flour two 9×5-inch loaf pans or one 9×13 pan. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the honey and coffee and bring to a boil. Set aside to cool.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices together. In a large mixing bowl, blend the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and oil. Do not overbeat.
Stir the flour and honey/coffee into the egg mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the liquid. Blend well. Toss the raisins in a little flour to keeping them from sinking and stir them in gently. Pour into the prepared pan(s) and place the almonds over the cake. (If using whole almonds, arrange them in straight rows to denote a serving and to indicate where to cut the cake finishing with an almond on top of each piece.)
Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the cake springs back. Let the cake sit overnight before serving.
Serve as is or top off with freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!