For the first time in 4 years I am without any professional responsibilities for the High Holidays. This year the holidays almost snuck up on me, which is a huge change of pace for me given that I used to spend months planning for them and working the day of. One of the great joys of this newly returned freedom is being able to plan menus and activities that I enjoy. Today I have attempted a new project: honey cake. Honey cake was one of those things that frustrated me to no end every year. I would try to estimate how many people would show up for services, going back and forth on whether to order 1 or 2 cakes, thinking “people love cake”. Inevitably, I would end up ordering 2 and every year there would be close to an entire cake left over. Why is this? Because it tasted like ass! Now in all fairness to the bakery I ordered from, they were one of the only suppliers of large honey cakes in the area, so were making a huge number of cakes and keeping them all parve. This resulted in cakes that were made way too far ahead of time, were really dry, and had strangely sticky tops by the time Erev Rosh Hashana rolled around. Last week I was browsing around Chow.com and came across a recipe that inspired me make a honey cake that I would actually enjoy. (full disclosure: my husband works on the technical side of Chow.com) I really liked the idea of a topping on the cake as dryness is usually a big factor and while I like figs I thought that apples might be more suited to the season. I also felt that I didn’t really want to create a separate topping. One of the things my husband is really good at baking is pineapple up-side down cake, so I spent some time researching upside-down cakes and discovered in our well worn copy of The Joy of Cooking that
apples could definitely be used. I then proceeded to doctor up the honey cake to suit my tastes.I was quite thrilled with my progress after artfully arranging my apples in the topping and then carefully poured the cake batter over the apples. I very quickly realized I had forgotten one crucial fact. Apples float! All of my beautifully arranged apples slowly started bubbling up toward the surface and after futilely trying to push them back down to the bottom I resigned myself to an apple-honey cake with a gooey topping. When I turned it out it was really ugly, but it tasted fantastic. Soft moist cake, with apples periodically making an appearance and a sweet caramely top. So … tomorrow I shall try again. I think the upside down method won’t work with the consistency of the honey cake batter but I may be a able to recreate this as a right side up cake.
As an aside, I had some leftover apples so I threw them in some ramekens and topped them with butter, brown sugar, flour and oats and came up with some pretty good individual apple crisps.