I just love the way food not only nurtures us from the inside, but brings people together, and can educate us about other cultures and traditions from around the world.
I know very little about Jewish customs, but from the very first time I learned of the Monday Morning Cooking Club (MMCC) through the publication of their first cookbook in 2011, I have been smitten with them. Back then this very small group of Sydney based Jewish ladies were concerned that the craft of making traditional dishes they loved sharing with their families was slowly been lost. They decided to get together every Monday to cook these dishes, and asked their community for recipes they would love to share with them from their own families. Needless to say they were inundated with recipes. Some from books, some on handwritten pieces of paper … and they loved them all.
So they set about making the dishes, and ended up publishing many of them in their first cookbook simply called “Monday Morning Cooking Club”.
Since then they have published two more books: “The Feast Goes on” in 2014, and “It’s All About Food” in 2017. If you wish to check out more information about this amazing group of ladies and their books, then visit their website here.!
In a couple of weeks the MMCC ladies will be travelling across Australia introducing their fourth cookbook “Now For Something Sweet”, and will be in Perth the second week of March (more information about their trip is on their website).
From their first cookbook I have always been attracted to the recipe called “Gina’s Hair-Raising Honey Cake” … so called because their dear friend Gina, who offered them the recipe, got her hair caught in the beaters of her mixing machine when she made the cake for them … so hence the name. Poor Gina!
I have since learned that this type of cake is served at “Rosh Hashanah” (Jewish New Year), and there are many varieties which incorporate either tea of coffee instead of hot tap water in the MMCC recipe, as well as additional spices that one might expect in a honey cake.
I have now made this cake four times: in the first attempt I used the full volume of ingredients in the recipe and it made a huge cake, and I now realise that is because it is deemed a type of “celebration cake” to be shared with many. But it was too big for my family’s needs, so I halved the recipe and played around with the flavourings and spices to get a richer flavour and have decided on the recipe provided here.
If you wish to make the original here is the link to the recipe on the MMCC website … just follow the exact same process in your Thermomix, but you will need a really large tin. Because I didn’t use a ring tin, I cooked the cake at a lower temperature for longer to ensure that it cooked to the middle and the timing is perfect in this recipe.
What I love about this recipe too is the tradition that is attached to it … here is an excerpt from a Jewish cookbook that explains what this cake means:
“This sweet cake is a traditional favourite served on Rosh Hashanah and the following weeks, symbolising our prayer for a “good and sweet year”. Honey cake is also popular all year round. In Yiddish, honey cake is called “lekach” (see here), and it recalls a very popular European custom that is still seen today. On Erev Yom Kippur (see here) a Rabbi would distribute to each of his congregation or followers a piece of honey cake to symbolise his wish to the person for a sweet year.”
So … from me to you I wish you a “sweet year”.
- 140g hot tap water
- 120g plain flour
- 120g self raising flour
- 20g Dutch cocoa powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp bi carb soda
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes, or ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 250g honey
- 200g light olive oil
- 180g light muscovado sugar, or brown sugar
- 2 x 60g eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Drizzle of honey per slice
- Greek yoghurt per plate
- Cinnamon sugar for dusting per slice
- Preheat oven to 160g degree fan forced and place rack into middle of oven
- Grease and line base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin and place onto a baking tray (the cake will rise a lot so ensure you allow baking paper on the sides to be a little above the rim)
- Fill a small jug with hot tap water and put aside (you will need 140g but don’t worry weighing it in, just fill your jug from the hot tap water with roughly 200g)
- Add the flours, cocoa powder, bi-carb soda and salt to TM bowl and mix 10 seconds / speed 4, put aside
- Place honey into TM bowl and warm 1 minute / 37 degrees / speed 1
- PS: if your honey is not runny heat 2 minutes / 37 degrees / speed 1
- Insert butterfly
- Add the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla and blend 2 minutes / 37 degrees / speed 3
- Add the dry mix, weigh in 140g hot tap water and blend 10 seconds / speed 3, scrape around bowl and repeat 10 seconds / speed 3
- Pour mixture into lined cake tin (batter will be very runny) and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turn tray around and continue for another 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean (it takes exactly 1 hour 30 minutes in my oven)
- Remove from oven and cool cake completely in the tin before removing
- Serve as desired
To make cinnamon sugar, add 1 tsp ground cinnamon to 3 tsp raw caster sugar.
Cake will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week.