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Passover Honey Nut Cake in Soaking Syrup

A Middle Eastern tone is a definite part of this cake's appeal. A very nutty cake is suffused with a honey-citrus soaking syrup, much like baklava in its concept but flour-free, making it suitable for Passover. This is a rich, sweet cake and a small one, as this one is, goes a long way. For large seder crowds, you can double the recipe and bake it in a 9 inch springform pan or 9 by 13 inch rectangular pan. I serve this cake cut in small squares or diamonds and put this in a small muffin liner cup which works very well as a confectionary cup. Copeland Marks, in his book Sephardic Cooking (Donald I. Fine Inc. New York, l992) attributes this to Turkish cuisine. Joan Nathan calls this "Tishpishiti" in her book, Jewish Cooking In America (Knopf, New York l994) and points to Syrian, as well as Turkish roots. Paula Wolfert, has yet another version in one of her cookbooks, but with flour. A nutty classic indeed! The distinguishing, unchanging elements are: nuts, sugar, eggs, oil, and a honey/sugar syrup that is poured over the baked cake. My version is inspired by a recipe simply called "Nut Cake", from From My Grandmother's Kitchen, (Viviane Alcheck Miner with Linda Krinn, Triad Publishing Company, Gainesville, Florida l984). If you are interested in Sephardic recipes along with a very engaging family history, this book is a real find.

CAKE

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon for a more pronounced cinnamon flavor)
  • 1/2 cup matzoh cake meal
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

SOAKING SYRUP

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously grease a 7 inch round layer cake pan (if you do not have one, you can use a round, foil pan of the same or similar size available in the supermarket bake aisle)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a wire whisk, beat the sugar, oil, and eggs. Beat very well until mixture is thick and a pale yellow. Stir in orange juice, zest, salt, cinnamon, cake meal, and nuts. Turn batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is light brown and set. (Cool at least twenty minute before adding syrup). Meanwhile prepare Soaking Syrup.

Soaking Syrup: In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, honey, orange juice, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Heat to dissolve sugar and simmer 5-10 minutes until mixture becomes syrupy. Cool well.

Pour syrup over cooled cake, poking holes in cake with a fork, to permit syrup to penetrate cake. Allow to stand 2-4 hours to absorb syrup. I prefer to refrigerate this cake so that while it is absorbing liquid, it is also firming up. Also, the chilled cake offsets its innate sweetness and makes it easier to cut. Serve it on muffin liners, splayed out as pastry or confectionary cups.

Serves 10-12

This recipe is from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman and has been reprinted with permission from the author. The book will be available in September, 1998, from Doubleday.
© Marcy Goldman.




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