Lekach – There is no one definitive recipe, as different communities have their own traditions. However, this moist, well-flavoured cake is always based on honey, for the hope that the New Year will be sweet. Nuts – chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, pistachios or pine nuts – add texture, and apples – diced, grated, as juice or purée – are often considered essential (apples are dipped in honey at this autumn festival). Here, the flavouring is strong coffee, but other bakers use rum or brandy and/or lemon and orange zest. It is vital to bake this cake several days in advance, since the flavours develop as it matures.
- 275g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 medium free-range eggs, at room temperature
- 150g dark muscovado sugar
- 250g runny honey
- 125ml good-quality vegetable or sunflower oil
- 125ml hot coffee (made with 2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in boiling water)
- 100g walnut pieces
You will need a 900g loaf tin, about 26 x 12.5 x 7.5cm, greased with butter and lined with greaseproof paper.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
Remove a tablespoon of the weighed flour and set aside. Sift the rest of the flour into a bowl with the cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
In another bowl, large enough to hold all the ingredients, whisk the eggs with the sugar until well blended.
Whisk in the honey, followed by the oil and then the coffee. Gradually whisk in the flour to make a thick, smooth batter.
Toss the chopped nuts in the reserved flour then stir into the cake mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then carefully remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
Wrap in foil and keep for at least 3 days (some bakers insist on a week) before cutting.