Tishpishti (Syruped Honey Nut Cake)
There are many variations for this cake that is a Sephardic cousin of the Eastern European honey cake. This recipe has no eggs, being based on a very old way of baking cakes. Some add a few whole eggs while others still separate the eggs, beating the whites to create a lighter cake. There are recipes that call for using half fine semolina and half flour. A tablespoon or two of orange blossom water or orange juice can be added as can orange and/or lemon rind. Using almonds instead of walnuts will result in a lighter colored cake. What doesn’t change in any version is the sweet syrup of honey, sugar and lemon that is poured onto the warm cake. Like the Ashkenazic honey cake, tishpishti is a traditional dessert for Rosh Hashanah and break-fast meals at the end of Yom Kippur, symbolizing wishes for a sweet new year and the sweet fullness of life. The cake is also popular on Purim and can be served with a spoonful of yogurt or whipped cream. For the perfect treat, serve it with a cup of mint tea or strong Turkish coffee.
- 1 cup oil, preferably safflower
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup very finely chopped or ground walnuts or blanched almonds (not ground into flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Sliced almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Mix the first 6 cake ingredients (through the salt) in a large saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Mix the flour, ground nuts, baking powder and baking soda together until blended. Remove the saucepan from the heat just as it begins to boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture, about 1/3 at a time, until it is totally absorbed and the batter is well blended. It will be very thick and dough-like.
- Scoop the mixture into the greased pan and gently flatten the batter with your hands so it is spread evenly and the edges are straight. Score the cake into small diamond shapes, cutting at least part way down. Press one almond slice on top of each piece if desired. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.
- While the cake is baking, stir the syrup ingredients together in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, turn the heat up high until the mixture boils, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. Cook about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. Let the syrup cool while the cake bakes.
- Take the cake out of the oven. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then pour half the cooled syrup evenly over the still warm cake, which will absorb the syrup as it cools. Wait a few minutes, then follow the scoring to cut all the way through the pieces. Pour the rest of the syrup evenly into the cuts and over the cake. This cake is best if allowed to stand for at least 24 hours.