Citizens, tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a holiday rich in many ancient and symbolic food traditions. One of these is lekach – in English, a honey-sweetened spice cake.
It is one of the symbolically significant foods traditionally eaten by Ashkenazi Jews at the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in hopes of ensuring a sweet New Year. The etymology of lekach is Yiddish, perhaps originating from the Aramaic word “lĕkhakh”, to mix thoroughly
Lekach symbolizes the ‘sweetness’ and prosperity of the upcoming year, therefore, it is served on Jewish New Year’s Eve and through Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance.
Lekach is usually a dense, loaf-shaped cake, but some versions are similar to sponge cake or pound cake, with the addition of honey and spices, sometimes with coffee or tea for coloring. Others versions are more like gingerbread, Pain d’épices, or lebkuchen.
The Jewish tradition of honeyed cakes may date back to basbousa (sometimes spelled basboosa), an ancient Egyptian cake, variations of which are still enjoyed throughout the Middle East.
A very traditional honey cake from Austria contains an equal weight of white rye flour and dark honey, strong coffee instead of water, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and golden raisins in the loaf, with slivered almonds on top of the loaf. Of course it also has a fair amount of eggs, vegetable oil (probably corn), salt, and baking powder.
Sadly most lekach is so dense that if you drop a piece on your foot, it will probably shatter the bones there. My version, however, is a revelation – light, moist and delicious: truly worthy of bearing the name of the inestimable TFD!
My lekach is moist from the brilliant (IMHO) use of mango smoothie in the mix, spiced to my own unique tastes, nutty from a touch of Frangelico and tasting of orange from a whisper of Grand Marnier. You don’t have to be Jewish or eat this only on New Years – enjoy it all year ‘round, my Citizens! ☺
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake – לֶקַח
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