Honey cake is the Jewish equivalent of fruit cake; it’s on holiday menus because of tradition, not because people actually enjoy it. The problem is that the whole is usually less than the sum of its parts—slick honey, warm spices and all the components of a sweet, moist cake somehow end up emerging from the oven dry and crumbly. So when you find a recipe that produces the ideal honey cake—sweet, moist and tall—you hold onto it. That’s what I found in Marcy Goldman’s book “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.” In order to turn the recipe into cupcakes that I could top with a sour cream glaze, I needed to dial back the cake’s sweetness so the two together wouldn’t be too cloying. I also upped the spices and added some grated apple, like my grandmother used to do.
These cupcakes border on muffins, so feel free to add toasted walnuts (about ¾ cup should do the trick) or shredded coconut for a bit more texture.
Honey Cupcakes with Sour Cream Glaze
Adapted from Marcy Goldman’s “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking”
Makes about 30 cupcakes
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup vegetable oil
1 apple of your choice, peeled and grated
¾ cup honey
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup whiskey (if omitting, replace with coffee or orange juice)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray or line with cupcake liners.
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. Using whisk or rubber spatula, stir until well-blended.
3. Ladle or pour batter into prepared muffin tins, until each tin is ¾ full. Bake on middle rack until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean, about 19 minutes. Meanwhile, in stand mixer, use paddle attachment to mix together butter, sour cream, vanilla and salt. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar until well-combined. Refrigerate until cupcakes are ready to be glazed.
4. Remove cupcakes from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove glaze from refrigerator and pour or spread glaze on top of cupcakes. Serve immediately.