Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not Your Momma's Honey Cake

I'll be the first to admit it. I hate honey cake. I know it's a traditional holiday food, and every year as far back as I can remember I have somehow choked down a token bite of those dense brown bricks that masquerade as cake.

And then one year, a really great Emeril cookbook appeared in the mail, completely unbidden. When miracles like this happen, I'd rather just say thanks and not ask questions (although isn't it weird to get a cookbook in the mail when you never ordered one and didn't even know that this specific one existed?). Of course half the recipes call for pork, sausage, bacon, or some combination of the three. Which may in fact be very tasty, but I can only vouch for the non-pig recipes.

Like this honey cake. It's not even honey cake, really, but more of a chiffon spice cake sweetened with honey. The egg whites keep it nice and light, and the cake flour and mixing method give it a silky texture. It's almost a honey coffee cake. Honey-coffee-chiffon-spice-cake.

Now, I tried making it with non-dairy ingredients earlier this week. Then I made it again with real butter and yogurt. Believe me you want to make this dairy!!! In the world of the religious Jew, one doesn't eat meat and milk at the same meal (or even eat milk after a meat meal). So I always have a huge internal struggle whether or not to build my shabbat or holiday dinner plans around dinner or dessert.

Dessert always wins.

Honey Chiffon Spice Cake
Adapted from Emeril's "Potluck" Cookbook

2 1/3 c sifted cake flour (if you don't have cake flour, take 2T from each cup of flour and replace with cornstarch)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 c (175 g) unsalted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar (divided into 1/4 and 1/4 cup)
3 large egg yolks
1 cup plain yogurt
5 large egg whites

This is sort of complicated. Just bear with me.

1) Beat egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar or salt until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until stiff. Set aside

2) Sift cake flour, powder, soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.

3) Beat butter until creamy. Add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, mix till incorporated. Add honey, mix. Add egg yolks, mix. Add the following to the mixture:

1/3 of the flour mixture
1/2 cup of yogurt
1/3 of flour mixture
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 of flour mixture

Each time, mixing just until incorporation. You know how when you make challah you knead a bunch to develop the gluten? Yeah you don't want that to happen here.

Pour into a bundt pan and bake at 350F for ~45 mins until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Don't freak out if the top gets really brown (at the end of the day, it's going to be the bottom).

Let cool COMPLETELY. Like, forget about it for a few hours. Then invert bundt pan and voila! Actually tasty honey cake! 

You can glaze with melted cream cheese frosting or just add some milk to powdered sugar and vanilla extract to get the right consistency.


  1. This sounds delicious. And yes, the secret to edible and yummy honey cake is either 1) enjoying very dense, brick like cake or 2) honey-chiffon cake. Shana tova!

  2. Wow, looks yummy. I hate honey cake too... Although this seems complicated for a simpleton like me. Can't I just get one of yours? :-)

  3. ElaineYael, question. Do you know if the type of pan matters?

  4. It needs to be a tube pan or bundt pan (something with a hole in the middle), otherwise it won't cook properly in the middle.

  5. Im gonna try that!
    Thanks for posting!