Monthly Archives: September 2010

My Favorite Shiksa

Dree the Divine

Nature versus nurture, it’s a crap shoot, really.  How much of the person you are today is because of DNA?  How much of your personality is due to your upbringing?  Case in point:  my brother, Skeezix.

Skeezix in the sailor suit, self-fulfilling prophecy?

Skeezix is three years younger than I am.  In spite of my efforts to destroy this interloper into my happy childhood, he’s managed to survive to become one of the defenders of truth, justice and the American way.  Skeezix is a submariner in the US navy, stationed in Pearl Harbor.  We were both raised in the same home, both smothered in chicken soup, sweet kiddush wine and the paranoia of  Holocaust survivor parents.  And yet, we have ended up on opposite sides of the Jewish spectrum.

I am what you would call agressively Jewish.  I am Torah observant, I keep kosher, my week revolves around the spindle of Shabbat.  Judaism for me is not just a religion, it’s a way of life.

Not so for Skeezix.  In his early teens he began to buck against my parents and our way of life.  Today is he a fervent athiest.  He revels in letting me know how delicious pork is, that he has no clue when Yom Kippur is, and it’s really pissing me off that he inherited our mother’s cast iron frying pan and he’s using it to fry up his shark steaks and bacon strips.


Defender of truth, justice and the right to treif up a frying pan

One of the things that drove my parents to despair is that Skeezix married Dree, the Shiksa.  My father sadly shook his head and oy-yoy-yoyed into his Gemara.  My mother threatend to put her head in the oven.  Dree is the epitome of Shiksahood.  Tattooed, pierced in places you can only begin to imagine, this bacon-eating, Santa-loving transplanted surfer girl was every thing my parents dreaded Skeezix would bring home.

I have to admit, I was also prejudiced, at first.  My brother’s description of their wedding included the line, “Dree’s dad got so drunk we had to carry him out to his truck.”  No offense, my darling Dree, but those are words never really heard at an Orthodox Jewish wedding.

Skeezix and I planned a joint trip back to New York, me bringing my two youngest from Israel, Skeezix bringing the Shiksa and her daughter (from her first marriage) from Hawaii.  I was planning on being gracious, but not overly friendly.  I was sure this family reunion was going to set off an Armageddon in the Bronx (as if that didn’t happen all the time).

Dree and Skeezix

I planned on being gracious, and yet again, Miriyummy plans and God laughs.  What I discovered was that Dree was one cool Shiksa.  She’s funny, she’s smart and she refuses to take any crap from  the anti-religious Skeezix.  She’s the one who pushed my brother to light Chanuka candles in my father’s house.  She’s the one who forced him to drink kosher wine at my mother’s Shabbat table.  She made sure the chocolate dreidls they brought my kids from Hawaii were kosher.  She dragged my brother out of the apartmet to smoke in the stairwell so as not to offend my father on Shabbat.  As much as I wanted to not like Dree, I grew to love her.  She respected my parents’ way of life, and made my rebellious brother respect them as well.

Dree and Skeezix are unfortunately separated now, though still married.  I never thought I would say this, but I hope my stupid brother comes to his senses and realizes what a treasure he has in my favorite shiska.  Listen, if your family has to have a token shiksa, let it be one  as cool as Dree.  Aloha au ia ‘oe kuaana!

Chocolate Babka

This is a Carine Goren recipe.  The first time I posted some pictures on Facebook of a chocolate babka I made I got a comment from Dree that she loves that stuff.  So here’s a yeast cake that transcends all religions and brings family together, even when they are 12 time zones apart.

For the dough:
1/2 kilo (3 1/2 cups) flour
1 tablespoon yeast
100 grams (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (300 ml) milk
4 eggs (at room temperature)
scant half cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100 grams (1/2 cup) very soft butter
1 beaten egg, for brushing on top

To make the dough, place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand-mixer.  Attach the dough hook.  Melt the butter together and then add the cold milk to the melted butter so the liquid is just lukewarm.  Add th butter/milk mixture to the flour/yeast mixture, together with the eggs and sugar.  Mix at low to medium speed until the dough pulls together, and then add the salt.  Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and just a tiny bit sticky.  Cover and let rise until doubled.

Because the dough is sticky, it’s perhaps best to let it rise halfway in a warm place in your kitchen and then to let it finish rising in your fridger for another two hours.  This way the dough cools down and will be less sticky to work with.  You could also prepare the dough a day before, or let it rise in the fridge overnight.

To make the filling, mix together the sugar, cocoa and the cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.

Yes, these are supposed to be rectangular. What are you going to do, call the Babka Police?

Take out the doubled dough and punch it down.  Divide it into two separate (yet equal) pieces.  Roll each piece out into a rectangle about 1/2 centimeter (a little over an inch) thick.  I can never get the perfect rectangles you see on TV, but it really doesn’t matter, because when you roll the whole thing up in the end you can’t tell anyway.

I’ve impressed myself here

Spread the butter over the two rectangles (polygons, blobs) and then try to sprinkle the filling evenly over the buttered dough.  Roll each blob up from the long end, then twist the two rolls together and place in a buttered (or parchment-papered) round cake pan.  Brush with the beaten egg.  When I first made this recipe, as you can probably see in the photo, I didn’t read all the instructions, because, you know, I’m such a hotshot cook.  So I mixed the butter with the sugar, cocoa and cinnamon instead.  It was still spreadable, still edible, but not as good as doing it according to Carine’s instructions.  Hubris bites.

To rise or not to rise?

At this point you should have remembered to preheat your oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F).  Place the rolled babka into the oven, there’s no need for an additional rise.  Bake for about 50 minutes until the babka is all brown and yummy and inviting.

The reason you don’t have one more rise before placing the babka in the oven is because that’s the way most of our grandmothers did it.  If you really, really feel you need to let it rise just a bit one more time, go ahead, the Babka Police aren’t going to arrest you.

Mmmmm, babka! Who wants to come over for some coffee and cake?

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Unstuffed Sukkah

Sukkah Lights in the City of David

Some people are amazed at the lengths (and depths) I will go to in the kitchen to put a meal on the table, or tempt you with something sweet to have with your coffee.  Yes, we do have home-baked challah every Shabbat (the last time store-bought challot graced our Shabbat table was… um… I can’t remember… 2003?).  Yes, I will patchkeh around with the pastry bag and make a legion of profiteroles.  Yes, I will concoct my own liqueurs potent enough to knock you out after a tiny shnapps glassful.  Yes, I have been known to make my own jams, youghurt, chutneys, even marzipan.  But I draw the line somewhere.  I’m not a fan of rolling out pastry dough (I’ll do it, but grumble throughout).  Unless you count krepach (Jewish wontons), I’ve never made my own pasta.  And I hate, hate, HATE stuffing cabbage.  Back in the late 90s I came across a recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage and my life changed forever.  I made it every Sukkot, when it’s traditional to eat stuffed cabbage.  I made it all throughout the winter, and well into the summer.  It was yummy and easy and a hit.


Not Ju-boy's stuffed cabbage, but an exact replica

Then I married Ju-Boy.  He thinks Unstuffed Cabbage is an abomination.  He had it once at my house while we were dating, and decided to quote Rabbi Meir Kahane and say “Never again!”  He makes his own stuffed cabbage and that is the only kind allowed in his sukkah.  Why do we eat stuffed cabbage on Sukkot in the first place.  I Googled and Googled, but it seems I’m handier in the kitchen then on Google, since all I could find was a bunch of websites explaining that one eats stuffed foods on Sukkot, but not why.   And then I came upon Interesting Thing of the Day.  It took a non-Jew to give me an explanation I can identify with:

Although there are no explicit rules as to what foods must be eaten during Sukkot, stuffed foods are extremely common. These may include stuffed peppers, eggplants, or cabbage, stuffed fruits and pastries, knishes, kreplach, main-dish pies, or even ravioli. Though no one knows for sure, there are several theories as to how the metaphor of stuffing came to be associated with Sukkot. Some commentators liken the stuffed foods to miniature cornucopia, representing a bountiful harvest. The cornucopia originated in Greek mythology, so the terminology is not historically accurate, but the symbolism may nevertheless be correct. In terms of the harvest that Sukkot celebrates, produce such as peppers and eggplant will have been gathered recently, and Mark suggested that stuffing them with the other late-summer vegetables may represent the completion of the harvest. Sukkot also includes the notion of welcoming guests (both living and historical heroes) into the sukkah, thus “stuffing” them into a wrapper of sorts.

I like this explanation a lot.  And it goes with my Jewish mother philosophy of life of stuffing people with food.

But for those of you who don’t agree with this philosophy, or don’t like patchkeying around in the kitchen, or just like a quick dish to put together for the holiday, I bring you…

Unstuffed Cabbage

  • 750 ml (3 cups)  ketchup
  • 1 liter (4 cups) ginger ale
  • 1 whole medium  cabbage, very coarsely shredded
  • 1 kilo (2 pounds)  ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or matza meal
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  1. Put the ketchup and ginger ale into a large soup pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the cabbage and lower the heat so it simmers.
  3. In a large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Wet hands and form large balls, place gently into the simmering cabbage in the pot.
  5. Bring to the boil again, turn heat down, cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Serve with something to mop up the juices (like my challah, hint, hint).

Photo courtesy of Chia from Recipezaar

One of the advantages to living in a blended family is that we combined not only our families, kitchens, pets and furniture, we also combined our sukkot.  Ju-Boy puts together both frames not to create one giant sukka, but a two-roomed suite, complete with dining area and separate bedroom.  I’d like to show you a picture, but can’t.  We never photographed our sukka.  How remiss of us.  So instead, I’ve garnered a few funky pix of sukkot that might entertain.  A few are from my album on Facebook, Only in Israel, and when you see them, you’ll see why.  Enjoy…

Sukka on a yacht, courtesy of Doubletapper's blog

Gotta have your Whopper in the sukkah

Latte in the sukkah -- photo courtesy of Elie Lederman

Lulav? Check. Etrog? Check? Hadas and arava? Check? Automatic weapons? Of course!

Sukkot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- any piece of open sky will do...

And finally…

I wish our sukkah got built that quickly and efficiently!  And look at the size of the dining room table — I want one!


Wishing you all a Happy Sukkot!

!חג סוכות שמח


Another Day In Paradise

Paradise Cake

Normally I’m a very confident cook.  People like my food.  Ju-Boy says I shouldn’t get too cocky.  Yes, that’s the word he uses, cocky.  I’ll make something and when I finish putting it together I might take a small taste, and if it’s worked out well I might just punch the air, do the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance and say, “I rock!”

“Don’t get too cocky,” Ju-Boy will almost always reply.  If he’s not there, I will play both parts.

I love desserts.  Actually, I love every course, from soup to nuts, as they say.  But I have a special place in my heart, stomach, psyche, for dessert.  I could be that once upon a time my Magyar father told me that it’s a Hungarian custom to eat dessert first.  My Lithuanian mother would then say it’s only because Hungarian Jews are slaves to their sweet tooth.  They would be worried about pogroms, so they would save the best for first.  Makes sense to me.

Ju-Boy, amazing cook that he is, is not a patissier.  He makes a decent trifle (Brits appreciate understatement, so he knows this should be a compliment).  He can serve up a pretty plate of fruit.  But beyond that, his talent lies with meat and potatoes, not sugar and spice, everything nice.  So as you can imagine, when I joined the Ju-Boy family, my dessert skills, along with my pastry bag and collection of sprinkles, were quite welcome… with the exception of Optimus Prime.

Optimus Prime, dessert hater

I would bring out pretty bowls of chocolate mousse and he would decline to partake.  I would serve up ice cream cake with praline topping and he would decline to partake.  I would bring out a bowl piled high with chocolate-covered profiteroles and he would decline to partake.  This kid was starting to give me a complex.  It didn’t matter that everyone else at the table was begging me to induce a sugar coma, Optimus was not interested in my desserts.  My balloon of contentment was starting to deflate.

One night we all went out to dinner to celebrate a bunch of birthdays.  Dessert was chocolate mousse cake replete with whipped cream and birthday sparklers.  You can just imagine my surprise and horror when Optimus cut himself a piece of cake and ate it!  Okay, that’s it!  I’m angry now!

Do not administer chocolate!

My anger soon evolved into smug bitchiness.  It wasn’t long before Optimus started to groan.  “Urgh, I feel sick!  Dad, why did you let me eat that piece of cake?  You know what sugar does to me!  That’s why I never eat dessert.”  As much as I wanted to hold a gun to his head, I obviously hadn’t, he had eaten that chocolate bombe bomb fully compos mentis.  I fully understood now, and knowledge is power.

My smug bitchiness soon evolved into irritation.  Optimus wasn’t feeling well and was going to make sure we all knew about it.  In the car on the way home I began to wish we had never ordered that &@*%! cake!  “Dad, drive slowly, I’m going to be sick!”  (Brits are polite, they don’t hurl.)  “Dad, open a window, I’m going to be sick!”  “Dad, can you stop the car, I’m going to be sick!”  And so on, and so on, ad nauseum

So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when, during Shabbat lunch at our house, I served up some Paradise Cake and Optimus ate it!  It seems he’s been building up a tolerance.  What’s even more wonderfully surprising is that a few days later he called to ask for the recipe!  He and the Rani were having guests the following shabbat and they wanted something Miriyummy.  At that moment he was my favorite child.

I’ve been making Paradise Cake for over 27 years.  When the X and I were first dating in Jerusalem we used to frequent a restaurant called Le Souffle, and Paradise Cake was their flagship dessert.  They gave me the recipe and PC became my signature dessert for years.  Don’t you love restaurants that are generous and share recipes?  Sadly, Le Souffle went out of business in the mid-80s, but Paradise Cake lives on.

Paradise Cake

The recipe can be made parve but tastes so much better when dairy.  If you need the parve conversion, give me a buzz…

  • 15-20 plain biscuits (depending on the size of the dish)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate
  • 200 grams (1 cup) butter
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 80 gram box (3 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • chocolate syrup for decorating
  1. Dip the cookies one by one in the whipping cream and lay on the bottom of your cake pan  (I’ve used all sizes).  Reserve the rest of the cream for the vanilla layer.
  2. Make the chocolate layer by melting together the dark chocolate, butter, cocoa, sugar and instant coffee.  You can either do this on the stove top.  I normally nuke it for 3 minutes.  Mix to combine well.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  If your chocolate mixture is still hot, don’t dawdle, you don’t want scrambled eggs in chocolate sauce.
  4. Whip the whites to stiff peaks.  Fold into the chocolate mixture until completely combined.  Spread this over the cookie layer and place in the fridge to set, between 15 and 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, take the rest of the whipping cream and whip together with the instant vanilla pudding and the vanilla extract.
  6. Spread this over the chocolate layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.
  7. Before you serve the cake, decorate with chocolate syrup or whatever else you like to use to decorate cream cakes (I once used pulverized sugared almonds, a bit hit).

I don’t often quote my X, but will here:  “One piece and you’re in paradise, two pieces and you’re in heaven, three pieces and you throw up.”

A Little Help From My Friends

I made aliya (immigrated to Israel) in 1983 at the age of 20.  I was a total fabrenteh Zionist.  I intended to leave behind the life of instant America, the life of Taster’s Choice coffee, boxed macaroni and cheese and microwave knishes from the freezer section.  I was going to cook only local, fresh food.  I would be true to Israeli cuisine.  Ju-Boy often uses a triple positive which I will borrow now:  yeah, yeah, yeah…

Watch Anglo-Israelis come home for the first time…

Slice of Safed Cheese

Image via Wikipedia

It didn’t take me  long to start missing the edible amenities of Americana.  Israeli instant coffee just made the water dirty.  Remember that Elite powder?  There were three types of cheese, soft white, salty, and something called “yellow” which made a substandard mac and cheese with no discernible color.  And knishes?  There were no knishes!  I didn’t think I would survive!

In the mid-80s and early 90s the Supersol chain of supermarkets instituted American Month every two years.  American-Israelis would wait for it with bated breath.  On my yishuv we didn’t have a Supersol, and we would have to travel in packs and venture out together into Jerusalem to empty out the inventory of a neighboring branch.  It didn’t matter that the items on offer were overpriced and total crap to begin with.  I bought my fair share of Drake’s Devil Dogs, Ronzoni Giant Shell pasta and six packs of Dr Pepper, all of which would cost ten times more than in your local Shop Rite in New York.

During the two year hiatus in between American Month sales we would occasionally come upon a store that was selling Lender’s frozen bagels, trays of  Gabila’s frozen knishes or cases of Diet Dr Pepper or A&W root beer.  The word would go out and the pilgrimage would ensue.  I know people who would drive for hours to get some freeze dried coffee back then.

Shuk Extravaganza Tour 2005

The situation gradually improved over the years, but minimally.  In the summer of 2003 there arose a visionary by the name of David Curwin who thought that he could pool together the food knowledge of Anglo-Israelis all over the country, and the israelfood discussion list was born.  Desperate in Dimona for Newman’s Own salad dressing?  Varda in Efrat knows where to find some.  Israeli butchers don’t have a clue as to American cuts of meat and you can’t figure out the system?  List diva Ruth has the answer for you (still waiting for your cookbook to get published, Ruth!).  We even had a field trip one year, a wonderful tour of the Machane Yehuda outdoor market, organized by the ever resourceful Fredi.  Anglos need never be culinarily lost in Israel again, just as long as you subscribe to the list.

David is busy these days with his own linguistic blog, Balashon.  I wish my father were still alive (and computer literate) to read his posts, he adored that stuff (and passed on his etymological love on to me).  Yet, David still takes the time as list moderator, policing with patience and unruly group of hungry Anglos.

Japanese Pickled Radishes

David posted this recipe on the list last month.  I grew up in a Hungarian household where a plate of fresh baby radishes graced the table every Friday night, so this intrigued me.  It’s a simple recipe and if you like interesting pickles, this is for you.  In David’s own words:

  • 2 to 3 pounds small red radishes, washed, with tops and roots trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Fresh ginger slices, to taste
  • » Vinegar sauce:
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • Pinch MSG, optional (I opted out here)
  1. Cut 1-inch X’s at the root end of radishes. Place in bowl and sprinkle with salt; let stand about 30 minutes or until radishes are slightly wilted. Drain, saving the salted liquid.
  2. Sprinkle ginger over radishes.
  3. To prepare sauce: Combine ingredients in pot with salted liquid. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and sauce is clear.
  4. Pour hot sauce over radishes and ginger. Cool. Pack in jars; refrigerate at least 24 hours before eating. Serves 8 to 10.

You thought you were going to get a recipe for knishes, didn’t you!?!?  Watch this space…

Food Snob? Moi?

Photo by *Parsley* of Recipezaar.com

I can be a snob about many things.  I am a coffee snob.  I am a spice snob.  I wish I could afford to be a saucepan snob.  But one thing I am not is a food snob.  Ju-Boy wonders at the fact that I can whip up something almost gourmet using the choicest juicy chunks of fresh Cornish ram’s bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark’s vomit (10 points for guessing the source of that one), while at the same time using such mundane ingredients such as onion soup mix, ketchup and Coca Cola.

A generation raised on Hawaiian Punch and Ding Dongs

Yes, I cook with Coca Cola and I admit it.  When I was a little girl my mother wouldn’t let me near the stuff, claiming it wasn’t good for me.  She let me drink Hawaiian Punch instead (sold in lead cans).  And when she finally caved into progeny pressure it was bottles of the local no-frills cola that appeared on  the supper table, none of that heady stuff that came out of Atlanta.

I remember the first time she caught me pouring myself a glass of the stuff at breakfast.  “Miraleh, are you meshugah?  Drinking cola for breakfast?  So unhealthy!  Have a glass of milk instead, and pass me that can of Maxwell House coffee, please?”

Some Of The Joys Of Being An Adult

  • Buying what’s in fashion, not what’s sensible
  • Eating a tub of ice cream, on the couch, in front of the television
  • Naptime, once dreaded, is now your friend
  • Knowing what the words mean in that song
  • Drinking Coke for breakfast!

I have a few vices, but the only one I will find hard to give up is my Diet Coke fix.  I’ve quit smoking (so long ago most of my friends don’t even realize I ever did smoke).  I probably could give up alcohol (but I don’t wanna).  I have given up (at various times) coffee, dairy, meat, MSG and trashy novels.  But I always cave when it comes to giving up that lovely, fizzy, artificial, sweet, heavenly cola.

Back to snobby cooking… at home we are now trying to cook healthily.  That means buying more organic, less processed, fresher and tastier.  But Rosh Hashana is coming around the corner (very fast), and one of my favorite things to cook, serve and eat is a tender brisket, slow cooked in the crock pot, swimming with artificial yumminess.

The original recipe was given to me yonks ago by a co-worker, Lea Bruce.  It’s mine now…

You don’t need a crock pot for this, you could simmer it over low heat on top of the stove, or roast it in a slow oven.

Crock Pot Brisket

  • 2 kilos (4 pounds) brisket (in Israel I use a #5 cut)
  • 1/2 cup mustard (plain yellow is best, don’t get too pretentious with the Dijon)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
  • 2 cups Coca Cola (don’t use the diet stuff unless it’s made with Splenda, not aspartime)
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  1. Place the brisket in the crock pot.  You may have to cut it in half to fit.
  2. Mix all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the brisket.
  3. Cook on high for about 8 hours, or overnight on low.
  4. Let it cool down a bit before slicing.

Talking To God

Photo by jewishsearch.com

I am not a spiritual Jew.  I am a social Jew.  If you happen to find me in shul (synagogue) on a Shabbat morning, you will see that I talk more to my friends than I do to God.  No disrespect intended, honestly, but I will admit that I am not a fan of prayer… in shul, that is.  I don’t connect with words written hundreds of years ago by some man with a beard who spent his days with the holy texts while his wife struggled to get Shabbat on the table.  Now, if she had written these prayers I might feel more connected.

God is in the details

It’s not that I don’t believe in God, I do.  How can you not look at nature and see God in the details?  I see God in my four beautiful daughters.  I see God in music, in solar eclipses, even in evolution.  There is no way that something as twisted as the human race evolved on its own from the muck, we had help.  And God certainly has a sense of humor, don’t you agree?

While I do believe in God, my belief is limited to the fact that once he set up the game of Life, he didn’t hang around to play much.  I think there’s something more interesting out there than the likes of us.  But just because I don’t think he’s listening, that doesn’t mean I still don’t talk to him.  I have my chats with God every day, with the hope that at some point he’s going to pick up his messages.  In my mind, life on Earth is just a macro set to run until God sees fit to check up on us.  He helps those who help themselves, so my chats with God aren’t so much prayers asking for something, but rather little personal updates, verbal thank you cards, and sometimes a letter of complaint or a note in the Suggestion Box.

So this Rosh Hashana you really won’t see me hanging out much in shul.  I’d rather give my seat to someone who wants it, who needs the connection via the words written in the machzor.  I’ll be at home having a cup of coffee with the Big Guy, I’ve got my dialogue worked out already.

Rosh Hashana Honey Cake

One of the proofs of God’s existence has got to be honey.  A whole colony of buzzing bees work so hard to bring us such wonderful yummy sweetness.  Yes, I know there are quite a few people out there who don’t like honey and, even worse, hate honey cake.  God makes all kinds…

The original recipe comes from Ruth Sirkis, doyenne of Israeli cookbooks.  I’ve been making this honey cake every single Rosh Hashana since 1983.

  • 3 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup oil (not olive, use soy or canola)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I leave this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (I usually use nutmeg)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F).
  2. Get a baking pan with a 7 cup capacity.  Grease lightly and set it aside.  You could also use parchment paper, my favorite trick.
  3. Prepare a strong cup of coffee with the hot water and the instant coffee.  Let it cool down a bit so it’s not boiling.
  4. Separate the eggs.  Put the yolks into a big mixing bowl and the whites into a medium one.
  5. Beat the yolks with the sugar until creamy.
  6. Add the oil, then the honey, beating after each addition. Beat until the mixture is totally smooth and creamy.
    Sift the flour and combine with the salt, baking powder, baking soda and the spices.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture alternately with the coffee, stirring with a spatula or a wooden spoon.  Do NOT use and electric mixer for this one.  Stir only until all the ingredients are well blended, do not overmix.
  8. Clean and dry the mixer beaters.  Whip the egg whites until they are stiff and can hold their shape.  Don’t overbeat the whites or you will end up with little islands of egg white that will never be blended into the batter.
  9. Add one third of the beaten whites at a time to the batter.  Fold in gently until the batter is smooth.
  10. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 80 to 90 minutes.  The cake is done when a toothpick comes out dry and clean.   This cake keeps really well.  In fact, it gets better with a little aging, so bake it several days ahead.

Angelic saboteur of honey cakes

I can’t bake this cake without remembering way back in 1986 when I was still in my baby-induced coma.  Nomush has just had her first birthday and suddenly Sassy was so grown up at the age of 2 and one month.  I decided to let her help me make the honey cake while Nomush took her nap.  I lifted my little helper up on to the counter and she was thrilled to be able to stir the batter.  I was so proud of myself, thinking I was training my sweet little angel to make honey cake at the age of two.  And then (man plans, God laughs) my little angel took the measuring cup, dipped it into the sink full of dishes soaking in soapy water, and poured a cup of that stuff into the batter….

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