Food for Soul

Recipe: Bake sweet and spicy honey cake squares to celebrate Rosh Hashanah


By Sally Pasley Vargas Globe Correspondent,Updated August 30, 2021, 1:00 p.m.

Honey Spice Cake Squares.
Honey Spice Cake Squares.SALLY PASLEY VARGAS

Makes 1 large rectangle

Honey represents sweetness at the Jewish New Year, and in this cake, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves add plenty of spice, a needed diversion to cheer us up as we muddle through these difficult times. A popular new trend is to call these squares, which are cut from a large rectangle, “snack cakes,” but they’re really old-fashioned and plain to the core, easy as can be, made in one bowl. Bake this cake to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, a new year, and a sweet season ahead.

Vegetable oil (for the pan)
cups flour
2teaspoons baking powder
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon salt
2teaspoons ground cinnamon
1teaspoon ground ginger
¼teaspoon ground cloves
½cup dark brown sugar
1cup vegetable oil
1cup honey
½cup orange juice
Grated rind of 1 orange
1teaspoon vanilla extract
½cup golden or dark raisins
Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Very lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom and 2 long sides with a piece of parchment paper that overhangs the top edge by 1 inch.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves until blended. Stir in the brown sugar and use your fingers to break up any large lumps.

3. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the eggs, oil, honey, orange juice, orange rind, and vanilla. Starting in the center, whisk the liquid ingredients together, and gradually widen the circle to incorporate the dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold in the raisins.

4. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan once on the counter to settle any air pockets. Transfer to the oven and bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

5. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to release the cake. Using the parchment overhang as slings, lift out the cake and transfer it to a cutting board. Leave the cool completely.

6. Carefully snip the top edges of the parchment paper so they’re not in your way. Position the cake so the long side is parallel to the countertop. Make 2 horizontal cuts, and 3 vertical cuts to form 12 squares. Use a wide metal spatula to remove the cake from the bottom piece of parchment. Arrange the squares on a platter and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Sally Pasley Vargas

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