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.



Anonymous Marian the Librarian said...

I am so touched to developed this cake for me! I will go make it now.

11:15 AM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

In good health Tayere,
Have a beautiful New Year.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Marian the Librarian said...

It is incredible! Honey cake can be so cloying and heavy, but this is light and tasty, with wonderful competing sweet/tart aftertastes. You are a hero! Happy New Year!

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Marian the Librarian said...

Once more making this for an event on Sunday. A gut, gezunt, gebentsht yor dir un dayns!

1:02 PM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

Oomayn gamatem!

Thanks for inspiring this cake. I love all my honey cakes, but this one is The Boss. I made two more caffeine free honey cakes this year. Hope to blog them soon.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Esther-Malke said...

Happy 5780. I'd forgotten this recipe, and now I remember why I bought mahlab at Sahadi's last year. Of course now that I have the mahlab I no longer have the buckwheat honey. Is it worth making the cake with the usual supermarket clover honey? If not I'll wait until I can get to the Farmers' Market here in Brooklyn

2:56 PM  
Blogger Esther-Malke said...

Got the buckwheat honey at last. Do I grind the (seeded) oranges with the peels? and the apples --grated with the peels or without?

8:44 PM  

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