Honey Cake

honey cake!
honey cake!

I’ve had a cold for the past few days (probably picked up some gunk on the plane ride back), so we pushed our Rosh Hashanah celebratory meal to tonight. A little Braisin’ History—I made honey cake for the first time in 2012, from a recipe on smitten kitchen. It tuned out well that year, but I had moved by the time Rosh Hashanah rolled around in 2013, and I was not yet familiar with how my new oven worked—or rather, how it didn’t. That apartment had a terrible oven. It was at least 75 degrees off, and it would shut off whenever it felt it was approaching a workable temperature. So I baked the cake for the specified amount of time, and then it was raw. As I attempted to get it to a less-gooey state, I managed to burn the edges. I took the failure into work the next day in the hopes that someone would eat it. I ended up throwing most of it away at lunch.

This is not that honey cake, however! This turned out lovely! This is a new recipe I got from the New York Times. It calls for a lot of red wine, olive oil, and (of course) honey. The plum and thyme garnish is really something. I altered a couple things slightly from Melissa Clark’s recipe.

2 1/2 cups AP flour (300 grams)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups olive oil
1 cup honey
3/4 cup red wine
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Baker’s Joy or nonstick spray+flour, to prep the bundt pan

3 plums
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
pinch lemon zest

Heat oven to 350, and prep the bundt pan with Baker’s Joy or grease+flour combo.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in sugar, oil, honey, wine, and the fresh ginger until well combined. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until just combined (no pockets of flour remaining, but don’t overwork the batter).

Pour batter into pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then unmold the cake (be brave!) and let cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the garnish. Chop up the plums and mix with the honey, thyme, and lemon zest. Macerate for at least 30 minutes.

Slice cake, top with garnish.


[image: menorah and latkes]
[image: menorah and latkes]

Happy Hanukkah! My dad makes the BEST latkes. I ate four tonight. I wanted to eat a dozen. Those are chives sprinkled on the sour cream there; the contrasting color helped the photo. (But also they were tasty.)

5 medium russet potatoes (about 2.5–3 lbs total)
1/2 medium onion
1 Tbsp table salt (technically 1/2 tsp salt per potato, but we rounded up)
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour or matzoh meal
1 tsp baking soda
Lots of vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup olive oil for frying
kosher salt
sour cream or applesauce to serve

Important tools are an electric fryer (my dad uses an electric wok) and a food processor with coarse shredding disc.

Wash and dry potatoes; leave skin on. Shred potatoes in food processor. Shred onion in food processor.

Mix potato, onion, salt, pepper, garlic, 2 Tbsp olive oil and flour (or matzoh meal) in large bowl. Add baking soda and stir to combine.

Pour the 1/4 cup olive oil and however much vegetable oil you need in your frying vessel. Heat oil mixture to 375 degrees F. While the oil is heating, occasionally press down on the potato mixture and drain the resulting liquid into another bowl (to discard later).

Take a blob of potato mixture and press out liquid to make a 3-inch disk. Slide carefully into hot oil. Make a batch of 6. Fry until golden brown and delicious (this is an eyeball estimation), turning them occasionally in the oil to cook both sides. Remove to a rack on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt, then move the sheet to a 275 degree oven while you fry the rest of them.

Let oil temperature recover between batches.

This should make 3 batches of 6 latkes each. Serve with sour cream or applesauce.

Coconut Macaroons

(adapted from David Leibovitz)

coconut macaroons
[Image: 43 golden-toasty coconut macaroons on a wire cooling rack on a green tablecloth.]

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp honey
2 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup flour (see note)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

If you’re making these for Passover, grind up matzoh in a spice/coffee grinder instead.

Mix all ingredients except vanilla in a large nonstick skillet over low to medium heat. Stir, and do not stop stirring. Things will look a little dire at first, but they’ll coalesce soon enough. Keep stirring.

When the mixture starts to scorch (I take this to mean darken a bit in color and make schlorpy noises when you move it around the pan), remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. I recommend a narrow container with as little exposed surface area as possible. Press some plastic wrap down on it to minimize air contact. (At this point, the mixture can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months. Bring it back to room temperature before baking if you do this.)

Heat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Form dough into 1-inch mounds with your hands and space evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Do not be tempted to pull them early, the darker they get, the better they taste! I sometimes use the convection setting for the second half of baking in order to get the edges dark and crispy. Cool completely before serving.

(These get better in the days following baking, so if you have the time, make them early. I store them in an unsealed zip-top bag in order to preserve their texture. Sealing it will soften them.)