Much Ado About Stuffing

Much Ado About Stuffing

Happy New Year. Honey Cake with Salted Caramel Thyme Roasted Plums

Honey Cake with “First Fruits” following tradition.

For Rosh Hashanah Dessert, the first thing that springs to mind is Honey Cake, of course. But how many disappointing honey cakes have we all had? Lots, right?
They look pretty enough, sure, but the dry, tasteless cake rarely lives up to it’s reputation. But ever on the hunt to perfect the “golden oldies”, I tried once again, and I do believe that this honey cake, served with a garnish of  Italian Plums in salted-caramel-thyme glaze might be the retro-modern kind of dessert that we can all stand behind. Feel free to garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, or thick Greek Yogurt.


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 Tbs. orange peel, grated
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 Grand Marnier (or brandy)
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt  pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.
Or use one of my favorite disposable (non aluminum) baking pans available here- these are amazing to have on hand especially if you often bake and bring, as I do.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and Grand Marnier, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)
Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake evenly- otherwise the bottom will overbrown due to the high sugar content.


Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For LARGE angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. Set timer for minimum time, and keep an eye on them.
Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via  Marcy Goldman’s Treasure of Jewish Holiday Baking

Salted Caramel -thyme Roasted Plums 

Anyone who knows me knows my passion for salted caramel, so when I decided on the honey cake, I thought, “hmmmm, compote?” and wrinkled my nose. Because, yeah, compote. But then I looked at the Italian Plums on the counter, that were going to become (yet another) plum torte, and I thought of the honey-roasted pears from last year, and decided to improvise.  In France we had a thyme-plum dessert that was yummy, and I have a lot of thyme in the herb bed. So I came up with this


  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Sel de Guerande or Maldon fleur de sel or another good salt
  • 6 big fresh thyme sprigs
  • Italian plums, about 15
Preheat oven to 475°F.
Stir Sugar, honey, margarine, salt and thyme together in large ovenproof nonstick skillet over high heat until butter melts. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will bubble vigorously).
Add plum halves, cut side down. Cook plums without stirring for 2 minutes. Turn plums over and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until caramel is deep brown, checking frequently to prevent burning, about 4 minutes.
Divide among dessert plates, spooning caramel over, leaving thyme behind.
Sprinkle with a bit of fresh time (optional) and
Serve with Honey Cake, or crème fraîche, or Greek Yogurt.

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