Honey Spice Cake – Lekach

With less than a month of winter left, I found myself back at the honey jar.  I just can’t get enough of this delightful product of nature!  This time around, I wanted to try out a honey spice cake instead of just a plain old honey cake.

I searched cookbooks and the internet, and came across several recipes that use honey, spices, and coffee.  The primary source pointed to Marcy Goldman’s book, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking (which is available on Amazon.com and no doubt at your local library).  Honey cake (Lekach) is served for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, to help guarantee a sweet year ahead.  It is traditionally served as a loaf cake and contains the hidden ingredient, coffee or tea.  Some recipes, like Goldman’s recipe, also include hints of orange flavor from orange juice and orange liqueur.

Here I am with my tweaked version of this traditional honey cake, though I opted for a full-size tube cake (because it’s larger, which means more cake!).  I stuck to the basic ingredients of honey, spices, coffee, and oil.  During my research, I learned that a version of the cake includes rye flour, but most recipes call for only all-purpose flour, so that is what I opted for.  What turned out was a keeper of a honey cake.  It’s a moist, amber-colored cake with hints of honey and spice that just can’t be beat!

I prepared the dry ingredients first–flour, spices, salt, and a combination of baking powder and baking soda.

With my electric mixer, I beat the eggs and sugar together to the ribbon stage.

I mixed in vanilla, honey, and oil.  It looked like there would be a lot of batter.

I got ready the milk and coffee mixture.

I then started mixing in (on low-speed) the flour alternating with the coffee/milk mixture.

The resulting batter was a little foamy and pretty thin.  I thought I’d have a disaster on my hands:   that the cake would rise, then collapse, and therefore be dense and raw inside.

I stuck with it and poured the batter into the pan.  If this actually rises like it’s supposed to, this was going to be the large cake that I was hoping for.  In the oven it went.  I set the temperature at 325°F, a little lower than usual so that the honey doesn’t burn before the cake is fully baked.

When I took it out of the oven about 70 minutes later, a beautifully risen cake emerged.

I set it out to cool right side up on a wire rack.

No icing for this cake–just a nice sprinkling of confectioners sugar.

Time to cut it and see whether it is truly as good as it looks.

My husband took a bite.  The cake got a big thumbs up!  The kids devoured their slices in seconds.  This cake is so moist and delicious!  I can see why this traditional cake symbolizes a year of sweetness.

In this recipe, the spices are in the forefront, while the honey is more in the background.  My family preferred it that way, but if you want the honey to be more prominent, cut back on the spices by just including cinnamon.

This traditional honey cake will put a smile on anyone’s face!

Print Recipe
Honey Spice Cake (Lekach)
Servings
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
Servings
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour 10 inch tube pan (without removable bottom). Sift together and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  2. Using an electronic mixer set on medium speed (paddle attachment), beat together eggs and sugar until light (ribbon stage), about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract, oil, and honey and beat until well-combined. In a small bowl, combine coffee and milk.
  3. On low-speed, gradually add flour to egg mixture, alternating with milk-coffee mixture. Begin with flour and end with flour. Combine just until smooth. (Batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  4. Run a knife around the edges and center to loosen. Turn over onto plate (bottom up). Turn back over right side up onto wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve.
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