Traditionally, at Rosh Hashana, we eat apple slices dipped in honey and other sweet foods to symbolize our hopes for a sweet year and to continue the year the way we started it — sweetly. We also traditionally eat honey cake for the same reason. In my family my aunt is known for her honey cake — it’s not uncommon for a few of us to fight over the top of the cake (where the honey and alcohol form a slightly stickier, moister layer). I love her cake, but I also have my own recipe that I adore and I’ve been playing around with combining the tradition of eating apples and honey and eating honey cake with this recipe for Apple Honey Cake.
The cake itself is flavored with honey, warm spices and rye whiskey and studded with little chunks of softened apples. I like to use crisp, slightly tangy apples for this — Pink Lady and/or Granny Smith are my favorites, but anything you like will work. In addition to the flavor and texture, the apple adds moisture.
This recipe makes a slightly smaller cake than the typical recipes and works perfectly for my 10 cup non-stick bundt pan. You can make it in a 12-cup pan, but it will be a little lower when done. Once it’s cooled, wrap it well and it will keep on the counter for a few days. You can also bake it ahead and freeze it.
- 2/3 cup brewed tea, hot
- 2/3 cup honey — buckwheat or clover work well
- 1/2 cup rye whiskey (I use Crown Royal — it’s made here and I always seem to have some in the cupboard, but use whatever you like)
- 1/2 cup canola oil (or other light oil)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground dry ginger
- 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces / 355 grams)
- 2 medium apples — peeled, cored and diced (approximately 2 cups of diced apple)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan or spray it with Pam baking spray and set aside.
In a large measuring cup, combine the hot tea, honey and whisky, whisking to melt the honey. Set aside.
I use a stand mixer to mix this, but you can use a hand-mixer if you prefer. Add the oil and both sugars to the mixing bowl and mix on low to combine well. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until combined; then add the vanilla and mix in.
Add all of the spices, baking powder and baking soda to the bowl and mix on low speed until it’s all incorporated then add 1/3 of the flour and mix on low to combine. Slowly add 1/2 of the tea/honey/whisky mixture and continue to mix on low. I like to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to scrape off any of the flour mixture from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the liquid and the final 1/3 of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time, mix another 30 seconds, then add the diced apple and mix through.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, using a spatula to make sure the apples are distributed throughout the cake.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, turn the pan and bake another 20-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake.
Remove the cake and set aside to cool.
Once cooled, invert the cake onto a serving plate and it should come right out of the pan.
Here is where you have a big decision to make. My family is divided on which side of the cake is the top and which one is the bottom! My mother, a caterer for 40 years, thinks that the picture below is the ‘top’ of the cake. I’m torn between that and the picture above! You get to see the beautiful pattern from the pan if the top picture is the ‘top’ of the cake. So, you choose! 😉
Look at all of those apple-bits! I love this cake. I hope you do too. Happy Rosh Hashana!