Monday, 17 September 2012

Honey Cake (Rosh Hashanah - Jewish New Year)

I celebrate 'New Year' on 1st January with much post-Christmas gusto.  I then, as per my own religion, celebrate Ukrainian New Year (which due to it following the Julian calendar), falls on 14th January, and this is marked with merriment on its eve on 13th January (Malanka) and usually with copious amounts of vodka!  With a love of celebration, I raise my glass to the Chinese New Year and enjoy the ritual of dim sum and dragon dancing with friends. 

Then following a spell of genealogy a few years ago, we discovered that my husband's paternal family have Jewish ancestry.  Albeit that the generations have since passed and the Jewish faith isn't practised within the family anymore, we took it upon ourselves to add another New Year celebration to our calendar and mark the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) each September.  Although not observing the religious traits of this festival, we extract the culinary element of it, the symbolism behind it and use it as a respectful acknowledgement to my husband's ancestors.  Namely via the baking of a honey cake.

Honey cakes are exchanged during the Jewish New Year Festival period as the honey within it symbolises 'sweetness' and so it offers sweetness/goodwill wishes for the year ahead.  There are many recipes in existence handed down through the generations, but this is a version I've found which works well and in line with the festival's fruit giving traditions, pomegranates in particular, I use pomegranate icing and seeds to decorate it with.

Honey Cake with Pomegranate Icing
(This recipe is a combination of my methodology and recipe extracts featured in 
The Co-Op Food Magazine)

125g Clear Honey (+ extra for decoration)
125g Margarine/Butter
75g  Soft Brown Sugar
175g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs (beaten)
1 tsp Cinnamon

Icing:  1 pomegranate and 50g Icing Sugar

· Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a 20cm round cake tin.
· Place the honey, margarine and sugar into a large saucepan.  Heat gently and mix until all the ingredients have melted together.
· Take the pan off the heat and then add the cinnamon, eggs and flour and mix well together.
· Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven on a middle shelf for 30 minutes.
· Check after 25 minutes to ensure it doesn't burn.
· Once baked, take out of the oven and allow to cool.
· Cut the pomegranate in half, keep one half to one side and taking the other half, remove all the seeds from the skin.
· Using a cocktail stick or skewer, prick the cake all over so that there are numerous holes on top.
· Smear more honey on top of the cake so that the honey pours into the holes that you have made.
· Using the pomegranate seeds you've extracted, sprinkle them top of the cake.  The honey acts as glue and the seeds should stick to the top of the cake.
· Using the remaining half of the pomegranate, using a juice extractor, squeeze it until all the seeds turn to juice.
· In a small bowl place the icing sugar and the pomegranate juice together and mix.  Make sure the icing is thick not runny.  So if it is too 'wet' then add more icing sugar.
· Once ready, gently spread on top of the cake including over the pomegranate seeds and cover the whole cake as much as possible.
· Allow to set and dry.  Then cut and serve with a large hot mug of tea or coffee!

So whatever your faith, this is a lovely cake to make anytime of the year, for whatever the occasion.  But adding a hint of symbolism makes it even more poignant.  Besides, you can never have enough sweetness and blessings in your life and if it comes to you via cake, then all the better!  All that's left is to make a large mug of tea to have with my cake and to wish you a Happy New Year, whichever one you decide to celebrate.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thank you for sharing this with me, Anna ! You made me crave honey cake ! I love the idea of pomegranate icing as well.

    Michal from

    1. Hi Michal! Thank you, so glad you like it! The pomegranate icing works so well I agree.

  4. Anna, feel free to delete two of my responses (((-: I didn't see the first response being published so I tried twice more...ooops.