A Good, Sweet, and Slightly Lumpy New Year

(With a recipe for slightly funny looking gluten-free egg-free honey cake)

When our family sits down to welcome Rosh Hashanah with a festive meal tonight, I will not partake of my husband’s amazing challah, even though it is one of the reasons that I married him. I will not have made taiglach–sticky little balls of baked dough, raisins, and walnuts in a spiced honey sauce–much to the disappointment of Boy Scientist. I may or may not decide to give apples a go so that I can dip them in honey.

I will be having my husband’s amazing brisket (another reason that I married him), because both beef and the corn derivatives that are in the requisite Heinz chili sauce came back to my diet this week.

And I will be having honey cake, because there was no way that this holiday was going to pass me by without at least some nod to a traditional holiday dessert.

The honey cake was a long time in the seeking. Twitter yielded no leads. Searches for “gluten-free egg-free honey cake” ended in disappointment. Searches for “gluten-free vegan honey cake” brought the reminder that honey is not vegan.

In the end, I found a traditional recipe with fewer eggs than others, and adapted it with guidance from Colette Martin’s indispensable book, Learning to Bake Allergen Free.

The initial signs were all good. A smooth, sweet batter, and little cakes that puffed up high in the oven. But by the end of their cooking time, each one had fallen like a bad soufflé. Had it not been so early in the morning, had the house not smelled so good, I might have cried.

Photo of fallen honey cakes

Wheat-free, egg-free, volume-free honey cakes.

And yet. We could not help ourselves. As soon as the cakes had cooled enough, we sliced into one. It was cooked all the way through, it was sweet and a little caramelized at the edges. It was, quite frankly, delicious.

Whether you are celebrating or not, may your coming year be as joyful as it can be. May unlikely packages hold fine surprises. May there be sweet, sweet crumbs where you least expect them.

L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.

Pretty Darn Allergen-Free Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

This recipe is adapted from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. I’ve only made the allergen-free version this once, but it made me happy enough to want to share.

2 Tbs. flax seed, mixed with 6 Tbs. warm water and allowed to thicken
1 cup sugar
½ cup light vegetable oil
Scant 1 cup honey
2 Tbs. rum (or brandy)
½ cup strong warm coffee (I used decaf; you can also use water, I think)
300 grams gluten-free flour (see note)
½ tsp. guar gum
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground allspice
Scant ¼ tsp. ground ginger
Grind of fresh nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon (Roden says zest of 1 orange, but I detest orange in baked goods, so lemon it is)
1/3 cup raisins (Roden also recommends ½ cup of chopped nuts, but I’m not there yet)

  1. In a mixer, beat the thickened flax seed with the sugar until well blended.
  2. Beat in the oil, honey, rum, and coffee.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients (flour through spices) and combine well to distribute the gum. Add in the zest. Add gradually to the mixer until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Toss the raisins (and nuts, if using) with a bit more of the flour to keep them from sinking, then stir them into the batter.
  5. Line 4 mini loaf pans with parchment paper, oil the paper, and dust with still more flour.
  6. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Test with a cake tester.
  7. Remove from pans after about 10 minutes and let cool on a cake rack.


I used my trusty gluten-free house blend of 1 part buckwheat flour, 2 parts sorghum flour, and 2 parts tapioca starch, mostly because I thought the buckwheat would work well here. Rodin helpfully specifies 2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour, so if you use another flour blend, you’ll want to weigh it if you can. Otherwise, aim for somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 cups. My blend came out to a little over 2 ¼ cups, much to my surprise.

The original recipe calls for baking in a 9-inch pan (baked for 1 ¼ hours) or two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans. Since I’ve had trouble with gummy and undercooked gluten-free baked goods, I went with my tiniest pans and almost thought about using muffin tins. If you experiment, you’ll want to adjust cooking times.

Tasty as these were, I would have been happier without the craters. If you have any theories about what happened, please, please leave a comment.

About eosgirl

Trying to stop worrying and love my eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease.
This entry was posted in Allergies, Case of EosGirl, Food, Recipes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Good, Sweet, and Slightly Lumpy New Year

  1. Colette says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of honey cake. Sounds (and looks) delicious! My first suggestion to try making honey muffins. Muffins tend to fall less than cakes (in general). Was the middle slightly soggy? If so, going the muffin route will help. My second thought is to use slightly less flour — I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but say 275 grams, might just work.

  2. eosgirl says:

    Thanks, Colette! Interestingly, it seems to be cooked through, but that’s good to know about the muffins, just on general principle. And helpful to know about the flour. Let me know what you find if you try. There are LOTS of recipes out there for this traditional Rosh Hashanah treat, but not much that’s allergy-safe.

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