This is the time of year where you get to do magical things! You get to decorate trees with lights! Wait for a jolly man to bring you presents! Sing loudly to strangers under the guise of "caroling!" Eat sugar cookies until your teeth fall out!
Must be nice.
Some of us don't get to do that. Some of us are told we're "chosen" and forced to eat waxy rounds of gold-foiled chocolate called gelt. However, it seems that really all we're chosen to do is to watch other people construct candy cane gingerbread houses and have turkey feasts and hang red stockings by the fire, while we are tricked into spinning a small top on the floor and told that, no really, we're having a great time. Dreidels are so fun, you guys!
...I love Hannukah, can't you tell?
In truth, though I'm often jealous of my friends who get to celebrate Christmas (just once I'd like to eat something other than Chinese food on Christmas Day), Hannukah is sort of cool. I mean, Christmas has red and green, but Hannukah has blue and gold. Christmas has presents, and Hannukah has... other presents. Christmas may have eggnog, but Hannukah has apple honey cake. So. ...Eat that, Santa.
Apple Honey Cake
I serve this sturdy, toothsome, faintly sweet and appley cake with a mess of honey-sweetened, whipped mascarpone, but if you're getting your brisket on and trying to keep kosher, leave it off. You won't miss it. That much.
- 4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I buy mine at Whole Foods)
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup honey
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 apples (I used Golden Delicious), for garnish
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar, for garnish
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 teaspoon honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the apple chunks with lemon juice, zest, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Tumble apples into the springform pan, layering evenly.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, remaining teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add honey and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, then almond extract. Scrape the bowl to make sure the batter is well-mixed, then pour batter over apples in the pan.
Before putting the cake in the oven, decorate with apple slices: thinly slice four apples lengthwise (between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch slices), right through the core. Discard the seeds and stem, but keep your slices intact. Gently layer the slices in a concentric circle on top of the cake batter. Now you're ready to bake.
Bake the cake for an hour and 15 minutes, until the top has browned, the cake has shrunk from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
To make the honey mascarpone topping, whip the mascarpone until good and fluffed (I used the whisk attachment on my stand mixer), then add the teaspoon of honey and whisk until incorporated. Serve immediately.
Makes one 9-inch cake.