Let’s start at the beggining, at New year’s.
In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year. This start has a very distinctive scent: the perfume of honey and spices. This enveloping aroma comes from a kitchen where the traditional honey cake, the Lekach, is baking. The delicious smell emmited from the mix of the ingredients makes the baking process an absolute joy. Once your cake is in the oven, the mixture of cinnamon, orange, coffee, spices, and honey will douse your house with the sweet scent of tradition and family.
We made many loafs of these honey cakes at the bakery, which were sold out before they were finished. This is due to the customary jewish tradition of gifting them at the end of the Rosh Hashanah dinner. We baked A LOT of them, made sure they were decorated with beautiful ribbons for packaging, and reconnected with clients that come every year to make sure that everybody on their list gets a loaf.
The big secret of our Honey Lekach? Mix the batter and let sit all night in the cooler. Let all of those different flavors melt together and soften the batter, and the next day, let it come to room temperature before baking.
Add the honey syrup right after they come out of the oven. When cakes are hot they absorb the moisture better.
The following is my recipe for a delicious Honey Lekach cake:
Yields: one loaf. You can easily double this recipe if you are making more than one loaf
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or nutmeg, optional
3 large eggs
½ cup (100g) Brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
4 teaspoon instand coffee
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup (25g) sliced almonds.
For the syrup
½ cup honey
1 cup water
¼ cup honey liquor
1. Preheat oven to 350°F/170°C. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. We used paper loaf molds for giving way as gifts.
2. In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom/nutmeg. Set aside.
3. Combine liquids together (orange juice and oil), add the coffee.
4. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and honey on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Turn off mixer. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the liquids in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Do not over mix.
5. To prepare the syrup, boil the honey and water together. When boiling, take out of the heat and add the liquor.
6. Cover the batter and place in the cooler overnight (optional). The next day, take the batter out and bring to room temperature. Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top is browning too fast while baking, cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Immediately coming out of the oven, pour the syrup on top until absorbed. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely. If using paper molds. Wait until completely cooled before wrapping.
7. Store cake in an airtight container or aluminium foil at room temperature for up to a week. Serve at room temperature.