Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bubbe Elaine's Honey Cake (as modified by Dr. Carol)

This past week marked the beginning of the year 5775 for members of the Jewish faith. The Jewish New Year, known as "Rosh Hashanah" (literally, Head of the Year), is celebrated in Jewish homes with sweet foods, traditionally sweetened with honey, to help us with our hopes for a sweet new year. Fortunately, weight loss is not typically a "Jewish New Year Resolution." 

This honey cake recipe was created by my grandmother, Bubbe Elaine, and was so good that it appeared in her Sisterhood's cookbook up in Syracuse, New York. The recipe was subsequently handed down to my mother, Dr. Carol, who makes it every year. However, in the time that she has had the recipe, its been modified to include substantially more liquor than Bubbe Elaine's original...

This is the version of the recipe that my mother taught to me. It requires you to have a good collection of liquor, but can be easily modified if you don't want to fail a breathalyzer after eating a slice. Best part of this post? Dr. Carol is actually making the cakes in the pictures. She has great jewelry.

One recipe makes 4 medium-sized cakes baked in loaf pans. 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Bake time: 50 minutes

What you will need:

3 1/2 cups flour (note: we needed to add a little more flour...perhaps because of how much *liquid* Dr. Carol put in the mixture...)
1/3 cup coffee
1/3 cup pulpy orange juice
3/4 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 eggs
1 lb. orange blossom honey (an extra little dollop won't hurt either)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon peel (dried, found in the spice department)
1 tsp. orange peel (dried, found in the spice department)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground mace
Slivered almonds to top the cakes (not pictured--I forgot about them until the end)
1 "cup" Southern Comfort brandy (Note: This is the only liquor that appeared in Bubbe Elaine's recipe)
B&B (or any other type of Brandy you prefer)
Triple Sec
Wild Turkey American Honey (or other honey liquor)
Canadian Club whiskey

Preheat your oven to 350. Spray four medium sized (Dr. Carol likes the disposable kind the best) loaf pans with Baker's Joy or some other non-stick baking spray and set aside.

Pour the honey into a large mixing bowl. 

Then, add the coffee, oil, sugar, orange juice and eggs. The next step will be adding the "cup" of Southern Comfort. This is Dr. Carol's version of a "cup" when it comes to Southern Comfort:

I'm pretty sure there was an extra slug added after I took this picture, too.

Start mixing on a low-medium speed (my Kitchen Aid stand mixer came in very handy for this recipe, especially with the pour shield, since there was quite a bit of splashing at the beginning). Add the flour to the mixture as it mixes, about a cup at a time.

Once the flour is mixed in, add the rest of the dry ingredients (baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, lemon peel, orange peel). This should all keep mixing on a low-medium power.

Next, it's time to add the rest of the liquor. I can't give you exact measurements for this; it's really how alcoholic do you want your cake to be. Dr. Carol gives each bottle a good splash. I personally like the taste of the honey liquor the best. 

Let the mixture continue to beat for another few minutes and scrape the bottom with a spatula to ensure the sugar and flour are not sticking. The batter is ready when it's slightly thick. If you find that the batter still seems very runny (as in, it drips right off the spatula), add a little more flour (1/2 cup or so) and continue mixing until it seems more like a cake batter consistency. My mother claims that the reason her measurements were off were because I had a different brand of flour than she uses at home; I contend that it's because she put more Southern Comfort in when I wasn't looking.

Once your batter is the right consistency, pour into the readied loaf pans. You want to pour until each loaf pan is about 1/3 of the way full.

For toppings, pour sliced/slivered almonds down the center of each loaf pan. If you don't like almonds, you can use other types of nuts, or even raisins or other types of dried fruits.

Pop the loaf pans in the oven at 350 for about 50 minutes. Depending on your oven, you'll want to check them at around 40-45 minutes with a toothpick/testing device to see if it comes out clean in the middle. Once it does, remove from the oven and transfer to cooling rack.

Let the cakes cool in their pans for about ten minutes before transferring directly to a cooling rack. Continue to let cooling for about 20-30 more minutes, then serve and enjoy!