My friend Ethan shared a version of this recipe for Bella’s Honey Cake with me a couple of weeks ago. It’s mere coincidence the cake shares the same name as my first born, or perhaps it was fate? I’d put out a call to friends for some kugel recipes and Ethan sent along the cake recipe, too, saying it was worth trying. I made some tweaks, mainly cutting out the raisins, nixing the whiskey, and scaling the ingredients down a bit to make a round version of what was supposed to be a sheet cake.
We’re going to talk about kugel again in the future. I didn’t grow up with kugel, and maybe I’ve no right to even write about it, but seriously, where has kugel been my whole life? Oh, yes, I was raised Catholic…I guess our equivalent of kugel is lasagna, a conversation for another time.
This cake doesn’t seem like much when you see it. And then you take your first bite. And wow. Your tastebuds are abuzz with hints of citrus, a delicate sweetness, and an earthy nip from the walnuts. It’s dairy-free, making it pareve if you’re keeping kosher. I served it as dessert on Rosh Hashanah, and then we had some for breakfast the next day (and the day after that one).
It’s a cake that holds the test of time, its crumb staying soft, and the flavors deepening with each passing day, depending on how long you make it last. Sometimes a sliver is all you want, and yet if it’s a thick wedge you desire, it won’t weigh you down. Bella’s Honey Cake is comforting with tea in the afternoon, but when sipped with coffee, the citrus notes pop, a symphony in every bite. All that from one humble looking cake.
Eight years ago: Creamy Homemade Ricotta, Sunday Best Homemade Waffles, Sweet & Savory Tomato Jam, Coconut Peanut Sauce Beef, and Baked Fish Tacos.
Seven years ago: Concord Grape Muffins, 10-Minute Lentil Soup (great for InstantPots!), English Flapjacks, and Carrot “Fettuccine”.
Six years ago: Homemade Chocolate Snap Cookies, How to Make the Best Scrambled Eggs, A Master Plan, and In Search of An Anchor.
Five years ago: Blackberry Conserves, Thoughts on a Clear Blue Day, and Homemade with Love Photo Shoot (see how the cover photo was shot).
Four years ago: Apple Breakfast Bars, Hazelnut Thin Crisp Cookies, Prosciutto & Fried Egg Tartine, and Postcard from Paris.
Three years ago: Sunday Evening Thoughts and When Life Imitates Art.
Two years ago: Whole Grain Concord Grape Muffins (dairy-free, too), and Honey Spice Cake.
One year ago: Honey Chamomile Spice Cake, Turmeric & Ginger Roasted Cauliflower, Oatmeal Banana Muffins, About a Girl, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Basil Cashew Pesto, Salted Thyme Chocolate Chip Cookies, and How to Dry Fresh Herbs.
Bella's Honey Cake
- 6 tablespoons oil (neutral, like canola or grapeseed)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 6 tablespoons (120 grams) honey
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 small to medium apple, peeled & grated
- 1¾ cups (260 grams) flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Generous ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 teaspoons orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
- Freshly grated rind of 1 small orange (zest & white pith)
- Freshly grated rind of ½ lemon (zest & white pith)
- ⅓ cup walnuts, toasted & chopped
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease & flour the sides of an 9-inch springform pan or round cake tin; line the bottom with parchment.
- Add the oil, sugar, eggs, and honey to a deep bowl. Whisk until well blended.
- Add the apples, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange & lemon zest, and walnuts. Stir to mix; the batter will be a bit thick.
- Spoon into the prepared cake tin. Bake until golden, edges pull slightly away from the side, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.