Honey cake (lekach) has been called both “Jewish gingerbread” and “Jewish fruitcake.” The cake is traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
“Lekach” is cited in English print from at least the 1910s.
Lekach or Jewish honey cake is a honey-sweetened cake, one of many symbolically significant foods traditionally eaten by Ashkenazi Jews at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
Recipes vary widely. It is usually a loaf-shaped cake, but some versions are like sponge cake, with the addition of honey and spices with coffee or tea for coloring; others are more like gingerbread or lebkuchen.
The Food Maven - Arthur Schwartz
Honey cake is Jewish gingerbread says Myra Binstock, a listener. An apt comparison. Both are spicy. Both are symbolic. The honey cake by dint of its sweetness is eaten to herald a new, sweet year. Gingerbread is shaped and baked into edible symbols. But I think the Jewish New Year’s honey cake is more like Christmas fruit cake, at least metaphorically. Jibbing its lack of popularity, the old joke about fruit cake is that there is only one in the world and it gets passed around each year. Honey cake is like that. Hardly anyone really likes it either, but you’ve gotten have one for the holidays.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
A traditional Jewish cake made with honey.
1932 L. GOLDING Magnolia St. III. viii. 573, I will fill large bags for them with ingber and strudel and lekkach.
1955 L. W. LEONARD Jewish Holiday Cook Bk. 20 A good standby for holiday entertaining is the traditional Lekach, or Honey Cake. 1
960 S. BECKER tr. Schwarz-Bart’s Last of Just (1961) v. 239 That’s a lekach! A honey cake.
1973 CARR & OBERMAN Gourmet’s Guide to Jewish Cooking 124 Foods associated with Rosh Hashanah are honey and honey cake (Lekach).
The International Jewish Cook Book
By Florence Kreisler Greenbaum
New York, NY: Bloch Publishing Company
This recipe is one that is used in Palestine. It makes a honey cake not nearly as rich as those on the foregoing recipes for honey cakes, but will very nicely take the place of a sweet cracker to serve with tea.
Take three cups of sifted flour, one-quarter teaspoon of salt, add three eggs, one teaspoon of allspice, one teaspoon of soda, the grated rind and juice of one-half lemon and three tablespoons of honey, mix all ingredients well. Roll on board to one-fourth inch in thickness and cut with form. Brush with white of egg or honey diluted with water. On each cake put an almond or walnut. Bake in moderate oven from fifeen to twenty minutes.
Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
29 March 1929, Jewish Criterion, pg. 45, cols. 2-3:
3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon each allspice and soda, grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 tablespoons honey.
Mix these ingredients well; roll on board to one-quarter inch thickness, and cut with form. Brush with white of egg or honey diluted with water. Bake in moderate oven from 15 to 20 minutes.
New York Cookbook
By Maria Lo Pinto
New York, NY: A. A. Wyn
1 cup molasses
2 cups honey
(?--ed.) cup milk
(?) cup sugar
(?) cups flour, sifted with 2 teaspoons ginger…
28 September 2005, San Antonio (TX) Express-News, “Honey of a recipe” by Andrea Abel, pg. 1F:
With an observance so rich in tradition and delicious foods, how can honey cake have become the equivalent of the Jewish fruitcake—dry, cloyingly sweet…
in defense of fruitcakes - Chowhound
On Thanksgiving, my grandfather would make what I call a “Jewish fruitcake"--essentially a honey cake with raisins and candied orange peel.
Chorus Girl Dec 27, 2005 11:51AM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
majestic and moist honey cake
A few days ago, someone emailed me asking me if I had a recipe for honey cake. You see, honey cake is something traditionally eaten on the Jewish New Year, which falls next week as eating honey is supposed to encourage a sweet New Year, doubly so if paired with apples.
81 Kelly September 25, 2008
So, to this Gentile,it sounds like honey cake is the Jewish version of fruit cake!Or should I say fruit cake is the pagan version of honey cake? (har har)
193 Magpie Ima October 6, 2008
The honey cakes were happily gobbled down, even by the most skeptical. One friend, acknowledging that honey cake is like Jewish fruitcake and generally received with only tepid thanks, could not get enough of this. This recipe was a huge hit and will be added to my special folder of holiday recipes as it looks bound to become tradition. Thanks so very much.
Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Honey cake: No longer just the Jewish version of fruitcake
By Andrea Abel
SPECIAL TO THE AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I’m a Jewish woman on a mission, stopping nothing short of returning honey cake - a traditional sweet quick bread served during the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - to its rightful place of honor.
Honey cake has gotten a bum rap. It’s become the Jewish equivalent of the Christmas fruitcake, the “treat” at every holiday spread that everyone avoids. And for the most part I agree. The majority of honey cakes turn out dry, tough and cloyingly sweet.
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, September 16, 2009 • Permalink