Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Date Honey Cake

Oh I do love honey. I love bamboo honey, apple locust honey, goldenrod honey, coffee honey (get this if you can find it), manuka honey, and the very dark honey of some unidentified wildflowers I found in Little Falls New York on a bicycle journey this summer. I am also intemperate in my fondness for Lyle's Golden Syrup, and of course all respect is due as well to maple syrup, rice syrup, barley malt, agave, and any number of other sticky substances I have yet to try, but as it happens none of these are the subject of most Tanakhic references to honey.  The honey with which the Holy Land is flowing is not bee honey at all, but date syrup, or silan, a darkly scented, antioxidant-rich ingredient you need to know.

The date honey cake I made this year is a variation on my previous honey cakes (see Classic Honey Cake, Chocolate Honey Cake, and Pomegranate Honey Cake), and also owes some lineage to Judeo-Arabic date cakes, and of course, to English sticky pudding.  I used un-pitted dates because many folks think they are more flavorful, and anyway, I bought them by accident.  Pitting the dates was not at all difficult after they had softened up by soaking in tea or Guinness.

This is not really a carrot cake, but I added some carrots because dates love carrots.  I used sunflower seed oil for the same reason, but any oil should be fine.

Date Honey Cake

8 ounces unpitted dates (or pitted dates, why not?)
1 cup hot tea or Guinness stout

1 cup (5 ounces) palm sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) white sugar
6 cups (24 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 oranges, cores and seeds removed
1 1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 2/3 cups date syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup tahini

8 eggs

3 Macintosh apples, grated (about 2 cups)
2 large carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
5 ounces crystalized ginger, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Soak the dates in hot tea or stout.  When the dates are very soft, remove the stones and chop coarsely.  Reserve the liquid.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a food processor, grind the oranges, peel and pulp together, and add oil, date syrup, vanilla and tahini.

Beat the eggs and add to the liquid ingredients.

Pour the orange-mixture into the flour mixture and begin folding gently together.  Add the grated apples and carrots and chopped ginger and dates and enough of the remaining date-liquid (about half) to make a loose batter.

Pour and scrape the batter into prepared loaf-pans and/or cake pans. Bake 15 minutes at 400, 15 minutes at 375, and 15 minutes at 350. The cakes are done when a tester comes out clean and they offer mild resistance to a touch.

This recipe yielded five medium loaves and one tiny little loaf  (I was inspired to start making things into tiny little loaves by my recent visits to Claire's Corner Copia, a vegetarian restaurant and cult phenomenon in New Haven).

A sweet and healthy year to all In Mol Araan.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Wasong 瓦松 Orostachys Japonica אָראָסטאַכע Rock Pine

[This post has been updated]
Well, will you take a gander at this thing?  The farmers at the green market said either to add it to salads or make juice, and that it will cure all ills.  It seems to be sort of a succulent similar to purslane, so maybe I will make a fatoush-type salad.  I haven't tasted any yet, because I want to save it for Rosheshone.  I will update this post (no solemn vow implied) when I have more information.

We tried this on Roshshone.  It is juicy and crunchy with a bright tart flavor that is closest to sorrel (shtshav, schav).  It was a very nice in salad and would probably be good in any of these shtshav recipes.  In fact it would probably be much easier than making them with actual shtshav, since you don't have to remove the stems, and it stays fresh much longer than shtshav, which is notoriously frangible.

Deconstructed Shtshav

Hemp Shtshav

Classic Shtshav

Bonus: The post with the classic shtshav recipe also provides sixteen Yiddish synonyms for shtshav. 

Among the remarkable things about this plant are the gorgeous Fibonacci spirals of the spines and leaves.  See Vihart's beautiful video series on spirals and being a plant.

Oh, I can't help it.  These are so good, I have to embed them.  Watch  the whole thing.  I'll wait.

Is that not the bee's knees?

Now be less of a theorist and more of a plant:

Yikes, that ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Here you go:

All my best wishes for a sweet and healthy year.  Have a look at:

Date Honey Cake
Pomegranate Honey Cake
Chocolate Honey Cake
Classic Honey Cake

and don't miss our Rosheshone-related videos.

This year we made tsimes!

See also Rice with Apples and Honey

Roasted Fish and Honey Cake

I just wanted to say "notoriously frangible" again.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

‏ ‏ Crown Challah (Khale) קרױן־חלה

די חלה האָב איך געמאַכט פֿאַר ראש־השנה. דעם קרױן האָב איך געפֿלאָכטן פֿון פֿיר שלענגלעך, און דאָס ברעגל פֿון צװײ שלענגלעך. דער רעצעפּט פֿאַר באַניע־טײג געפֿינט זיך דאָ, און דאָ איז סתּם אַ חלה טײג. ‏
‏אַ זיס געבענטשט יאָר אַלע אין מױל אַרײַן ‏

Here's a khale I made for Rosheshone.  The crown is woven from four strands in a sort of square spiral, and the brim from two strands twisted together.  The recipe for Pumpkin khale is here (in Yiddish, with braiding directions, here), and  a plain khale dough (with Challahsaurus directions) is here.  A sweet and blessed year to you.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pomegranate Mahlab Honey Cake

Really, I want to tell you about places that you can go to and ingredients you can find, and here I am again going on about another New York treasure that has vanished.  I don't remember when this happened, but I was at the Sunflower grocery store in Queens (don't bother looking for it, it is no longer there) and I saw some whole mahlab (the kernels of cherry stones), and I thought, "better get this; who knows when you will need whole mahlab?" 

I finally used my mahlab this week to make a new kind of honey cake for the New Year.  My cherished friend Marian the Librarian is allergic to all caffeine and cannot have this classic honey cake, which contains coffee, and certainly not the chocolate honey cake, which has coffee and chocolate.  I thought that pomegranate molasses and mahlab might both give the darkness, bitterness and wineyness supplied by coffee and chocolate.  It turns out they add this and much more.  The flavor is vividly bright and tart. Every bite makes you want the next one even more.  This might well be my best honey cake yet.

Pomegranate Mahlab Honey Cake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare six medium ring-shaped cake pans, or four loaf pans.

Sift together in a large bowl:

6 cups (24 ounces) flour (I used half all-purpose and half whloe wheat pastry flour)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cardamon
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon ground mahlab (I was being cautious and used 1 teaspoon. 1 tablespoon should be even better)
3/4 teaspoon salt

Grind together in a food processor:

2 whole oranges (seeds removed)
1 pound (2 scant cups) buckwheat honey
3/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
8 eggs (9 if they are smallish) added last of all

2 large firm apples

Pour the orange mixture into the flour and mix gently.  Add the grated apples and mix just to combine.  POur and scrape into the prepared pans.  Bake five minutes at 400, five minutes at 375, and fifteen at 350.  Test with a straw and bake a few minutes more if not yet done.  This cake keeps well and gets better every day.