Honey, I Baked a Cake

For the New Year, here are three impressive honey cakes — one with apples and nuts, another with raisins and brandy, and a tasty vegan option. Plus a sweet challah studded with dried fruit.

Anatoly Michaello and Ben Peter

Apple and hazelnut honey cake

Ingredients for a 24-cm. babka pan:

80 grams oil or melted butter

100 grams sugar

2 eggs

180 grams honey

175 grams flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ cup roasted hazelnuts,

coarsely chopped

1 tsp. cinnamon

¾ cup natural apple juice

or cider

2 cups peeled and

grated apples

30 grams sliced hazelnuts or

almonds for covering the pan

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Grease the baking pan with soft butter, and cover with sliced hazelnuts or almonds. Peel and grate the apples and set aside. In a bowl, mix the oil/melted butter, sugar, eggs, honey and cinnamon.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and add this mixture to the bowl alternately with the apple juice.

Add the grated apples and chopped hazelnuts. Mix well, turn into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

If desired, you can moisten the cake with a little honey syrup, made by boiling 100 grams of honey (1/3 cup) with 50 ml. water.

Rich honey cake

Daniel Lila

Ingredients for two cakes

in an English cake pan:

Bowl 1:

1 cup high quality honey

½ cup water

¼ cup apple cider

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 medium-sized egg plus the

yolk of another egg

Bowl 2:

2 ½ cups sifted white flour

Bowl 3:

½ cup raisins marinated

in 3 tbsp. brandy

½ cup walnuts

2/3 cup water

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. cloves

¼ tsp. nutmeg

a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Using a mixer with a pastry hook, mix the ingredients in bowl 1 for one minute.

Add the sifted flour and continue to mix at medium speed for another minute.Add the ingredients in bowl 3. Continue to mix all the ingredients together, until you get a smooth mixture that is easy to work with.

Grease two English cake pans and divide the batter between them. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cakes are brown and springy to the touch. Insert a toothpick; when it emerges dry the cakes are ready. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool a little at room temperature. Remove the cake from the baking pan, slice and serve with some whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Vegan honey cake

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups organic apple sauce

1/3 cup canola or soybean oil

1 ¼ cups flour (half can be

whole wheat flour)

¼ cup chopped prunes

a pinch of salt

a pinch of baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

¾ cup moist brown sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

a pinch of cloves

For decoration:

2 tbsp. date syrup (silan)

3 tbsp. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Mix all the ingredients with a whisk.

Grease pan for English cake with cooking oil spray. Pour in the batter and scatter the almonds over it. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick emerges with moist crumbs. Remove cake from the oven and pour on silan immediately. Cool and serve.

Holiday challah

Pastry chefs Amir Porat and Rosella Yona, of the Biscotti Bakery, prepare a sweet braided challah

Ingredients for 3 large

challahs, or 4 challahs

in English cake pans:

1 kg. white flour

1 even tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. yeast or 1 package

Shimrit yeast

400-500 ml. (2-2 ½ cups)

lukewarm water

2 eggs + 1 for brushing

¾ cup (150 ml.) oil

¾ cup (150 ml.) honey

600 grams chopped dried

fruits – apricots, dates, figs,

cranberries

In a bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Create a well in the flour mixture, place the yeast in the center and gradually add the water. Mix briefly with a fork until a dough begins to form. In a bowl, mix the honey, eggs and oil and add to the dough. Add the dried fruits.

Knead for another 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If necessary add flour if the dough is too wet, or water if it is too dry.

Raising, braiding and baking:

Place overnight in the refrigerator to let the dough rise.

The next day, flatten the dough gently with your hand into a rectangular unit and divide into 3 or 4 equal parts, depending on the baking pan and the desired challah size.

Slice each part into three equal strips. Roll each strip a little between your hands and shape it into a kind of long cigar. To create the braid, put the ends of the strips together firmly. Place the right-hand strip between the two other strips. Then place the left-hand strip between the two other strips. Repeat until a braid is formed. Attach the ends firmly so they won’t separate during baking. Transfer the loaf to a baking pan, cover with a damp towel and let rise until the dough doubles in volume.

Before baking, brush the challah with a beaten egg. If desired, scatter sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nuts or oatmeal over the top. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 170 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes.