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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About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 5 September 2010, in Dessert, Holiday cooking, Jewish cooking, Rosh Hashana and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Beautifully writte Mirj

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  2. Yum! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for: a honey cake designed for Israeli ingredients. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Shanah tovah u’metukah to you and your family!

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  3. This year I tried a different recipe, which I altered slightly since I didn’t have all the spices. It included applesauce.

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  4. I hate honeycake, but I love your blog.
    Shana Tova

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  5. Mirj, I almost cried when I read your blog. You’ve got to be the most sincerest person I know. It came straight from the heart and it got to mine too.

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  6. So, did you guys eat that honey cake, with a don’t ask, don’t tell attitude, or did you dump and start over.

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    • Do you think I would have served up soapy honey cake? Don’t answer that, you were there when I was just baking them in the wonder pot, you know too many of my secrets!

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  7. Great post, I love your description of your relationship to G-d. As a BTW, I was really hoping the cup of coffee in the recipe would be for drinking while the cake bakes… or something. Oh well. Shana tova!

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  8. Diane Scharf Landers

    Mirj, how beautifully you write — you are so honest and your relationship wih G-d is so sincere! Loved the honey cake, as well. Thank you, Diane

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  9. Dear Miriam

    Just having moved, I woke up this morning and could not find my Ruth Sirkis recipe book, from which I make a honey cake each year for Rosh Hashana. My ex husband gave it to me when we were soldiers in the army, on our first anniversary, and it is this particluar recipe that I love the most. It seems as if almost a whole lifetime has gone by since the day I got this book, and in two weeks my youngest of three sons is leaving for college. I am not a great cook or a huge balabuste, (in fact I am a much better musician), and I am not a great fan of going to shul (although I do it anyway). I just never realized, until I searched for the book and could not find it, how much it means to me to make this special cake and share it with my family every year, as a symbol of my love for them and our connection to all the Jewish people.

    Upset, I ran to the computer and looked up “Ruth Sirkis Hiney Cake” and I feel like it was a divine hand that led me to your page. Not only because of the recipe, of course, but because of your beautiful words, which spoke to me loud and clear.

    It is a different recipe (the one I have been making was called Oogat Kol Tuv), but there are definitely similarities. However most importantly you inspired me and comforted me, I feel an instant connection now between me and you, and your Miriyummy Honey Cake that will satisfy me at least until I find my book. And who knows which one I will make next year?
    Shana Tova!
    Daphna

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    • Daphna — my daughter would call you my sister from another mister! See how the world is connected? That other cake of yours, oogat kol tuv, by any chance is that from the Oogot Lekol Et book? Because I loaned that one out years ago, and now it’s lost, and I miss it, so I know how you feel…

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  10. For anyone who is chuckling now- I didn’t mean Hiney cake. I meant Honey cake. That will teach me to type without my glasses!

    Shana Tova again

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  11. OOgat Kol Tuv is from a different book but I forget its name. I will tell you when I find it : – )

    I like your daughter already!

    I made the cake and it is delicious. My (non-Jewish) friend says it’s the best cake she ever tasted and wants to make it for her sister on Friday, so I gave her the link to this page.

    Only one issue- the pan (9×5 loaf pan) overflowed. I guessed it would so I had a cookie sheet underneath it and ate up all the overflowed cake as soon as I took it out of the oven. What did I do wrong? The pan did hold the 7 cups of water.

    And now to setting the table…
    Shat Tova !

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  12. Mirj,
    your facebook post today brought me here (I’m Mia in Germany from zaar), and your words in this post touched me so very much, because they speak my heart almost literally. Actually I’m officially neither Jewish nor Christian (although raised christian), but your words exactly describe my feelings. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful and sincere thoughts! And thank you for sharing the cake recipe, I happen to love honey and honey cake 🙂
    Mia

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  13. Lovely, shana tova! Here’s to your sweetest year yet 🙂

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