Three Free Awesome Rosh Hashanah Recipes! My Legendary Moist, Majestic Honey Cake — New Year’s is Sweeter with Honey!

Image for post
Image for post

These are some of my favorite recipes for the Jewish New Year. Nothing beats apple and honey so it’s my favs on those recipes. The Babka is also divine. It’s moist and fragrant — but it’ s not one of those gluey, sweet babkas. This is made for coffee and tea and you can also slice and toast it.

Honey Cake

People love or hate honey cake. I used to be in the latter group until I invented my own honey cake — it is indeed Majestic (6 inches high) and Moist (mouth-watering from the get-go; fabulous a week later). This cake is one of my standbys for the holidays.

Image for post
Image for post

Moist and Majestic New Year’s Honey Cake
I like a New Year’s honey cake to be extra moist and sweet and as good on the day of baking as it is days later — in fact, even better as it ages. This one is queen of the realm — rich with honey, perfectly, vibrantly spiced. In a word, it’s majestic — in taste and stature. I went through many variations and tasting sessions until I was satisfied with this definitive cake and each version was made with The Spice House spices! I also suggest you re-stock your baking spices every six months and September is one of the times I restock. This recipe is one of my most popular recipes from my cookbook Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. One tester gave the ultimate compliment saying “This one is worth the price of the book”. One last thing — the very best pan for this cake is a angel food cake pan from Fat Daddios

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rye or whisky *
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, optional

If cake seems done but still seems a bit wobbly in center, lower the oven temperature and give it 10–20 more minutes. This is very important — give the cake the amount of baking it needs.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and sides of a 10 inch angel food cake pan lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit. Stack two baking sheets together and line the top one with parchment paper. Place cake pan on that (this prevents the bottom from browning too quickly)

In a large bowl or large food processor, blend together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the centre, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and rye or whisky. Blend well, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom. This is a thin batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and sprinkle top of cake (s) evenly with almonds. Place cake pan on baking sheet.

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake centre, 55–65 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

* If you prefer not to use the whisky, replace it with orange juice or coffee.

Image for post
Image for post
I love babka in all its guises: bready, flakey, chewy, pastry-ish, dense or airy. This is a classic deli style babka that’s perfect for tea and coffee or for Yom Kippur as it’s a rich dairy recipe.


Heavenly tasting and professional looking, this ridiculously easy bubka tastes like chocolate swirl danish. A classic bubka that could be made with poppy seed paste or cinnamon smear as well (see variations). This bubka originally called for for dry milk powder, another professional bakers’ trick. Since yeast does not dissolve that well in milk, the pros use water and add in the richness of milk, in its dry form, along with the flour later on. Dried milk powder (or skim milk powder) helps with dough absorption and strength. HOWEVER, in this recipe, I’ve done away with the milk powder and given you a recipe that is still lofty and moist but no need to buy milk powder — just follow the directions in the recipe.


1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons instant yeast
3 eggs
1 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 drops almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened in small pieces
6 cups approximately, all-purpose flour or bread flour or half-and-half combination


Chocolate, Cinnamon, Almond,
See Filling Options below

l egg

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together water and yeast. Let stand two minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve. Stir in eggs, milk vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Fold in softened butter and flour. Mix dough, then knead as it becomes a mass, with a dough hook or by hand for about eight to ten minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a well greased bowl and place entire bowl in a plastic bag and sea. Allow to rise until puffy, about 45–90 minutes. (Can also refrigerate overnight and resume next day, allowing dough to warm up a bit before proceeding). Divide dough in two equal parts. Cover with a tea towel and let rest ten minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or generously grease two 9 inch springform or layer cake pans. If making one large babka, generously butter a 10 inch tube pan.

On a lightly floured board, roll dough into a 16 by 16 inch square. Arrange or spread on filling of choice (variations below) all over dough surface. Roll up dough into a large jellyroll. Cut in half. Place both halves in prepared pan, beside each other — it doesn’t matter if they are a little squished. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar. Place loaf pan in a plastic bag and let rise until bubka is flush or over top of pan.

Repeat with other half of dough, using a different filling, if desired.

To use all of dough in one large bubka, procedure is the same but you will be using all of dough at once. Roll dough out into a 20 inch square (instead of 16 by 16) and proceed as above. A large babka is especially dramatic but two smaller ones give you two flavor and assembly options.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 35–45 minutes (50–70 minutes for one large bubka) until bubka is medium brown. Cool pan fifteen minutes before removing to a rack or serving plate.

Makes one large or two medium babkas


I call this my babka “wardrobe”. A simply change of filling and your bubka becomes a new coffeecake. Check out your options in assembling the bubka for a different look.

Each filling makes enough for one medium bubka. Double recipe if making a large babka.


1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

Grind chocolate chips, cinnamon, cocoa, sugar, and butter in a food processor to make a loose paste. You can also use a chopped up, imported Swiss chocolate bar, semi-sweet or milk chocolate.


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2–4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a food processor, process the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon and walnuts to make a loose paste. You can substitute maple syrup for corn syrup.


1/4 cup unsalted butter, in bits
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 cup, almond paste, cut in small chunks
1/2 cup slivered almonds

For Almond Babka, arrange butter bits, dollops of jam, and chunks of almond paste over dough. Sprinkle on slivered almonds. After egg wash, sprinkle on a few more slivered almonds.


Babkas change looks depending on how you finish them. Here are some classic options.

1 beaten egg, brushed over top

Leave egg glazed or can add:

Coarse sugar (optional, available at decorating stores, bakeries, or through Source Guide)
Ground walnuts
Slivered Almonds
Poppy Seeds (if filling with poppy seed filling)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Mix butter, cinnamon, confectioners’ sugar and flour together to make a crumbly topping. Sprinkle this over a risen bubka before baking. Double recipe for a large babka.

1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

This is drizzled over baked bubka and is especially good with a chocolate smear filled babka)

Dust baked, cooled babka with confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup apricot preserves

Warm up preserves and strain out any fruit pieces. Brush lightly over cooled, baked babka.


As with the choices in bubka fillings, this cake transforms itself by merely being formed in a new way. Bubka recipe can be made into two bubkas (divide dough in half, make two different fillings) or into one large bubka. Here are some easy options:


Statuesque, high, classic

Roll out entire batch of dough into a large rectangle. Spread out filling of choice

Roll up and coil around centre post in a well-greased tube or angel food cake pan.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Let rise until doubled.

Bake at 350 F, for 50–60 minutes. This can also be done as two smaller cakes. Divide filled jellyroll in half (or fill each half of dough with a different filling). Coil jellyroll in a greased, 9 inch springform or cake pan.


Use one half of bubka dough. Make a large roll (about 20 inches long). Cut in two and place rolls in a greased loaf pan, side by side, or slightly over-lapping in a well-greased 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Glaze and bake as above (45 minutes, approximately). Can also arrange two loaves, in a zigzag fashion in loaf pan.


Make a large roll. Slice in one-inch slices. Stack, any way, in a well-greased tube pan.

Glaze, rise and bake

Image for post
Image for post

This is the apple cake I grew up with and it’s best made a day ahead (ok — you have to make it at least a day ahead which, because of the busyness of the holidays, is a good thing. In fact, make it three days ahead)

My Mother’s Fancy Apple Cake


This cake, the perfect marriage between a cake and a pastry, is a part of all my best childhood memories and is one of my mother’s trademark recipes. Whenever we had a party, you could count my mother’s three specialty cakes: a cherry cheesecake, a chocolate wafer-whipped cream “instant Black Forest” cake, and this one. Essentially, this dessert is a pastry crust surrounds a filling that is almost solid apples. The Vanilla Sauce is really a tasty “glue” holding it all together. You can also make this with pie pastry (instead of the cookie pastry crust given here). This cake needs an overnight stay in the fridge to get firm before serving. Definitely a family heirloom. Ironically, I encountered it under another guise “Gateau Rougement” (Rougement Apple Cake) when I was in pastry chef school. It had a more sophisticated name but I remember thinking, “Call it whatever fancy name you like, this is my Mom’s apple cake, no matter how you slice it”.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2–3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted


7–9 cups apples, sliced & pared, (or enough to fill up cake pan)
Juice of half a lemon to sprinkle on apples
1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons, unsalted butter or margarine, melted
l cup sugar
2 eggs
l teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough: Mix sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, flour and baking powder together to make a soft, for stiff dough. Add a bit more flour if needed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare apples and toss with lemon juice and sugar. Brush bottom and sides of 10 inch springform pan with melted butter.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pat out dough evenly on bottom and sides of pan (dough should be between 1/8–1/4 inch thick). Fill with apple slices, pressing gently. Cover pan with aluminum foil.

Bake cake one to one-and-a-half hours (remove foil after 15 minutes) or until apples are soft. (Top apples will seems dry, interior apples should begin to feel a touch soft — you can put a cake tester into cake and this will give you an idea of how cooked the inner apples are).

Vanilla Sauce: Mixing all ingredients in order given. Pour over hot cake, trying to get sauce to drip into all the crevices. Bake another 20 minutes. Refrigerate cake at least four hours or overnight. Dust with icing sugar.

Serves 12–16

Written by

Cookbook Author, Master Baker, Writer, contributer to Huffington, Washington Post, PBS Next Avenue. Find me and

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store