Date and orange honey cake for the new year
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FoodRosh Hashanah recipe

Date and orange honey cake for the new year

A new twist on a traditional treat

Date and orange honey cake (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Date and orange honey cake (Photo by Jessica Grann)

Honey cake is a traditional food for Rosh Hashanah tables, yet rarely do I hear anyone raving about it.

Year to year in the recipe forums that I read online, bakers are searching for recipes for a moist honey cake. Used in this recipe, date syrup, known as silan in Israel and other countries in the Middle East, is the biblical honey mentioned in the Torah. It’s a natural sweetener like bee honey, but it has a richer, darker taste that is closer to molasses

Apple desserts are well-loved favorites for the holiday, but it’s a nice change to offer something different. Orange-flavored desserts are more common in Sephardic homes at Rosh Hashanah, and I’m sure that this recipe will delight your holiday guests.

When we have so much extra cooking to do, it’s nice to find a new recipe that is simple to make and easy to clean up. I like this loaf-shaped cake because no one is looking for a large dessert to eat after a filling holiday meal.

This cake is also well received at breakfast.

Ingredients:
½ cup oil
2 large eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup of silan, plus 2 tablespoons, reserved
½ cup orange juice
Zest from 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Date and orange honey cake (Photo by Jessica Grann)
I use a stand mixer for this recipe to make life easier, but you can absolutely use an electric hand mixer or even hand mix if you’re up to the job. A yummy cake recipe that can be hand mixed on yom tov is always a good thing to have tucked up your sleeve.

Preheat your oven to 325 F, and place the oven rack in the middle.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper then lightly spray the parchment with a cooking oil spray of your choice. The parchment paper is wonderful because you can use it to lift the whole loaf out of the pan to cool without any concern about the cake sticking. It also saves your pans from burnt-on messes.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs gently, then add the oil. Mix on medium-low for about a minute, then add in the sugar and silan.

When well combined, add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt all at once, then add the flour and orange juice alternately.
Once the orange juice looks well combined with the batter, hand mix in the orange zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. You may need to adjust your timing a little depending on the material of your pan, but a toothpick should come out clean and the edges of the cake should be just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Overbaking the cake will result in dryness, so stay close and keep an eye on it.

Once a toothpick comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and quickly drizzle about 2 more tablespoons of silan over the cake using the spoon or a small spatula to evenly distribute it across the top. If you’re going to add nuts, do that right away. I add nuts to half of my cake so that everyone can have their preference.

Quickly place the cake back into the oven for 5 minutes; this helps create a lustrous honey coating on top.

Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes.

Using the parchment paper, pull the cake out and place it onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Please be sure that the cake is completely cool before serving or wrapping it to store.

You can make this cake 1-2 days in advance, and it stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy and bless your hands. Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year full of blessings.

Shana tova and anyada buena. PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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