Honey cake is traditionally eaten for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year — the honey’s sweetness symbolizes our wishes for a sweet year. This is my mother's recipe, which she makes in Israel, freezes, and sends to me in the mail. I’ve stopped reminding her that I’m a chef and accept the package gratefully. The cake holds up really well and is very easy to make. I love a slice with coffee in the afternoon, but this cake also works in savory applications — think goat cheese spread on top, beneath a piece of seared foie gras, or — don’t tell your grandma — with chopped liver. For dessert, we serve the cake with apple confit; apples that have been cooked very slowly in syrup until they are a beautiful, translucent amber color with an incredible jelly-like texture. Treated this way, the apples keep well in the fridge and I love to have them around during the fall.
From Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking. Copyright ©2015 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 loaf pans with oiled parchment paper.
Combine the flour and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, honey, coffee, canola oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and cinnamon. Mix on low until blended. Add the flour mixture and continue mixing just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
For the apples, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Toss the apple slices with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, and cloves. Arrange in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet. Add water just to cover the apples. Press a sheet of parchment onto the surface of the water.
Put the skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, cover tightly in foil, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the apples are just tender, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature, transfer to a lidded container, and chill until cold. Serve apples on top of a slice of honey cake.