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VIDEO: Tired of dry honey cake? Here’s how to make it moist and delicious

Yiddish cooking mavens Rukhl Schaechter and Eve Jochnowitz prepare roasted fish and honey cake for Rosh Hashanah

Growing up in the Bronx, I loved the delicious aromas wafting out of the kitchen in the hours before Rosh Hashanah. My mother would prepare richly flavored chicken noodle soup, roast chicken and vegetables, and also warm up the sweet-and-sour meatballs and other delicacies that my grandmother had prepared and brought over.

But I also remember my mother asking me to pick up several loaves of honey cake and sponge cake at the local bakery or in the supermarket, which were always disappointing. The honey cake in particular was dry and tasteless.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I decided to make honey cake myself, adding good strong coffee, orange juice and a little less sugar to the recipe. That was when I realized how delicious honey cake could be. And my three boys loved it too.

The recipe that food scholar and chef Eve Jochnowitz and I use in this video is even more enticing. Including ground fresh orange and zest, candied ginger, chocolate, apples and assorted spices, it really tickles my taste buds!

In addition to honey cake, we show you how to make another traditional Jewish new year dish: roast whole fish. Because the word rosh means “head” (as in Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year), it’s traditional to have a fish head on your new year table. So here we show you how to roast a whole fish with fresh vegetables, deliciously providing a lighter protein-rich alternative to meat and chicken. And the more curious kids at your holiday table will probably get a kick out of seeing the fish eyes looking back at them!

The recipe follows the video below.

(Makes 2 cakes or 18 cupcakes)

Sift these dry ingredients together:
3 cups all-purpose flour (You may use part or all whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
A dash of nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa

Blend together in a food processor or blender:
1 small orange (remove seeds and cores, use peel and pulp)
1/8 cup ginger preserves
3/4 cups buckwheat honey
3/4 cups oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs (added at the last minute)

Stir together in a bowl:
1 tablespoon chopped semisweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons chopped unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/4 cup boiling water

Stir the chocolate coffee into the orange-mix, and mix into the dry ingredients.

Fold in:
2 grated Macintosh-type apples
Top with walnuts on top if desired.

Bake in 2 cake pans at 450° F for five minutes, 400° for five minutes and then 350° for 20 minutes. Test for doneness.

This cake benefits from resting at room temperature for one day, especially if you use whole wheat flour. It will keep for more than two weeks without refrigeration.



A message from Forverts editor Rukhl Schaechter

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, I wanted to ask you to support the Forverts' 127-year legacy — and its bright future.

In the past, the goal of the Forverts was to Americanize its readers, to encourage them to learn English well and to acculturate to American society. Today, our goal is the reverse: to acquaint readers — especially those with Eastern European roots — with their Jewish cultural heritage, through the Yiddish language, literature, recipes and songs.

Our daily Yiddish content brings you new and creative ways to engage with this vibrant, living language, including Yiddish Wordle, Word of the Day videos, Yiddish cooking demos, new music, poetry and so much more.

—  Rukhl Schaechter, Yiddish Editor

Support the Yiddish Forverts with a generous gift to the Forverts today!

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