I made a traditional honey cake for Rosh Hashana. For a change of pace, I also made a mock honey cake.
Taking my inspiration from Tzipporah Kreizman’s Delights of the Jewish Kitchen, I tried substituting caramel for honey. The base of my cake was a cross between recipes for a vegan spice cake and a vegan applesauce cake that are in The Jewish Low-Cholesterol Cookbook by Roberta Leviton. The result was a caramel apple spice cake that tasted uncannily like my usual honey cake.
On page 66 of Kreizman’s book, she suggests mixing caramel with tea to replace the honey in honey cake. She also suggests adding a bit of jam. Her recipe also calls for cloves, cinnamon, lemon zest and juice, and instant coffee powder.
I decided to very simply flavor my cake with caramel and an Israeli chai tea. The tea has exotic ingredients: rose petals, olive leaves, clove, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon grass, grape leaves, black pepper, and pomegranate leaves. I decided to not add much else in terms of spices or flavors because I did not want to overhwelm and drown out the flavor of the tea and the caramel.
Caramel Apple Spice Cake (Mock HoneyCake)Combine in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Measure out a 1/2 cup of water and add a little bit of the water to the sugar in a saucepan to moisten it. Heat the sugar until it melts and turns golden brown. Turn off the heat and immediately add the rest of the water to the pot to stop the sugar from darkening more. Watch out! The sugar is very, very hot and will hiss and splatter and foam when you add the water. Stand back and avert your face.
When the liquid has cooled but is still quite warm, add the mixture to a small heatproof bowl or coffee mug and add a teabag. Let it steep. I used an Israeli Chai tea: Mount of Olives Treasures Spicy Black Chai Tea.
Combine the flour mixture, 1/2 cup of oil, 1/2 cup of applesauce (one snack pack container), and the caramel chai tea. Add the batter to a loaf pan or a square pan and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
Note: I topped this with sliced apples and sprinkled over cinnamon sugar. Very pretty and adds even more moisture.
Update: the apples look lovely, but they give off liquid (a problem I had with the challah, too). The first day this cake is baked, it is not at all a problem, but after freezing and defrosting, the cake is a little soggy under the apples. Not terrible, but not optimal.