My late father, Sol Rosenkranz, in his retirement years, was a perfect sous chef, helping my mother Sally with dicing and stirring. My parents were naturally gifted cooks, and my father never shied away from what was traditionally thought of as a woman's role. When he was a child in pre-World War II Poland, he helped his mother prepare for Shabbos, beginning on Thursdays. He later showed a natural affinity for the kitchen. My parents met in Stuttgart, Germany, and were married for 50 wonderful years, before my mother died in 1996. When my parents came to America in 1946 after being liberated, they initially used canned ingredients, which many American recipes called for, but they quickly switched back to fresh ingredients. The food they prepared required patience and skill, and was always made with love. My mother's honey cake recipe is a festive dessert traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah. The original inspiration came from The Art of Jewish Cooking by Jennie Grossinger. We tweaked the recipe by adding more oil, and adjusted other ingredients until we were satisfied. My written recipe shows crossed-out measurements capturing this history. I enjoy making this dish for holidays and drop-in guests.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease two 9-inch loaf pans or a 16 x 11 x 4-inch baking pan.
Brew the coffee and set it aside to cool.
In a medium bowl sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs on medium speed, gradually adding the sugar and beating for several minutes, until the mixture turns a pale yellow. Beat in the oil, honey and cooled coffee. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating on a low speed to prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium and beat for several minutes, until a smooth thick batter is formed. Stir the chopped nuts into the batter. If adding raisins, stir them in at this time.
Fill the prepared pans halfway with batter. The cake rises considerably when baking. (Any extra batter can be used to make delicious muffins.) Bake at 325 degrees for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until the top of the cake is cinnamon brown but not burnt and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.