When the Israelites followed Moses to the promised “land of milk and honey” the honey referred to was not from bees but was from fruit. Date honey was the most common in Biblical times. Honey has long been eaten in many dishes for Rosh Hashanah by Jews around the world. Honey soaked balls of baked dough (Teiglach, Eastern Europe), semolina cake soaked in honey syrup (Tishpishti, Turkey), and the famous European honey cake (Lekach, Germany) are all desserts served as a wish for a sweet new year. Lekach is by far the most popular cake served in North America for Rosh Hashanah.
One summer I needed a honey cake for a recipe I was creating and did not want to make one from scratch just to tear it apart. I went to the store and no honey cakes could be found (though there would soon be many come Rosh Hashanah time). What to do? I combined a standard gingerbread cake mix with some main ingredients in honey cake–coffee and honey—and an easy, quick honey cake was born!
¾ Cup warm coffee (or ¾ cup water with1 teaspoon instant espresso)
¼ cup honey
1 14.5-ounce box gingerbread mix
Eggs, as needed in mix
Oil or margarine as needed in mix
1. Microwave the coffee with the honey for 30 seconds on high. Stir to combine.
2. Pre-heat the oven according to package directions.
3. Prepare the cake following the package directions except substitute the warm coffee and honey for all of the liquid in the recipe. Use the appropriate amount of oil and eggs called for on the package.
4. Grease a 9 x 4 loaf pan. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake according to time on package mix.
5. Cool completely and then serve or use in Apples and Honey Cake Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce (Entrée to Judaism, page 444).