Honey Cake Biscotti
I have to be quite honest—I really do not like honey cake. Growing up on Long Island in the 1970s, it was that packaged dense, rather tasteless loaf that appeared at every synagogue Kiddush, right next other shul favorites that I avoid: the kichel and rainbow spongecake. I know it’s a tradition, but clearly one I do not enjoy following.
Baking with honey started in the Middle East by ancient Egyptians and then spread by Arabs into Europe. Italian Jews were the first to create a dense honey cake with spices, and the first honey cake recipe appears in an eleventh century prayer book in France. Over the centuries, Ashkenazi Jews served honey cake for holidays and celebrations, and in the twentieth century there is a story about when the Lubavitcher Rebbe once handed out 10,000 pieces of honey cake.
With such an auspicious history, I knew that I had to give honey cake another chance to win me over. I published a honey cake with a pecan and cinnamon swirl in The Kosher Baker (Brandeis 2010), but I still preferred to eat any other traditional Rosh Hashanah desserts. When I was completing the recipes for The Holiday Kosher Baker (Sterling 2013), a friend berated me for not including a honey cake recipe in the book. She came up with the idea of a cookie that tastes like honey cake, but might be more satisfying that a loaf. These biscotti have a perfect cookie crunch with all the spicy goodness of classic honey cake. So now I will eat honey cake, but just in cookie form. Have a sweet New Year.
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Dash salt
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup brewed coffee or espresso
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, place the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder and salt and mix together. Add the oil, honey, coffee and eggs and mix gently to combine. The dough will be a little gooey, but do your best to divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log, about 10 to 12 inches long by 4 inches wide, leaving 2 to 3 inches between each loaf.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the loaves are set and a little browned on the bottom. Slide the parchment paper off the pan. Let sit 5 minutes. Slice each loaf into ¾- to 1-inch slices. Place a new piece of parchment paper on the pan and place the cookies cut side down on top. Bake another five minutes. Let cool on the pan. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.