To make this vegan honey cake for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) just as sweet as the original, agave nectar or maple syrup (or a combination) create an authentic flavor.
In the Jewish tradition, honey cake is served at special occasions, whether formal holidays or not, and is especially beloved in the Ashkenazi Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) repertoire.
But as we know, strict vegans don’t use honey (though some who do use carefully sourced honey are called “bee-gans”).
Make in a loaf pan or cake pan: Though this cake is more traditionally baked as a loaf, there’s no reason you can’t bake it in a square or round cake pan. Reduce the time to about 40 minutes in the oven.
Symbolic foods in Jewish celebrations
As with almost every sacred celebration, food plays a central role to the Jewish New Year and is filled with symbolism. When making the challah bread for the holiday, for example, the baker might pinch off a bit of dough and burn it in the oven as a metaphoric sacrifice.
Carrot dishes served at Rosh Hashanah symbolize a wish for prosperity in the coming year — the Yiddish word for carrots means “to increase.”
Generally, dishes using the sweeter vegetables (like beets and squashes) as well as fruits are traditional to the Rosh Hashana celebration, in keeping with wishes for a sweet new year.
The holiday has ancient roots as a harvest festival, and enjoyment of the abundant produce of early autumn remains central.
Don’t forget the apples: Sliced apples with honey to dip them into is another holiday tradition, so if you’re a honey-free vegan, you can serve the apples with maple syrup, agave, or a combination of the two. And to extend the theme of sweetness, serve this traditional treat with this delicious vegan honey cake.
Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Photos: Susan Voisin, FatFreeVegan.com
Another must-have for the Rosh Hashanah, our delicious Vegan Challah
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (flaxseed meal) + 2 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry, light spelt, einkorn, or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
- 1/2 cup dark agave nectar or pure maple syrup, or or half of each
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dark or golden raisins, optional
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds for topping
- Preheat the oven to 325º F.
- For a flax "egg," combine the ground flaxseeds with the water in a small bowl or cup, stir well, and set aside
- Combine the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until completely blended.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the agave and/or maple syrup, applesauce, oil, vanilla, and flax mixture.
- Stir together until the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Use a wire whisk for best results. Stir in the raisins.
- Cut a piece of baking parchment to fit the bottoms of a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Lightly oil the sides. Or, use a lightly oiled 9-inch square or round cake pan.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf tests clean. Take care not to overbake.
- Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature. The cake is tender, so don't cut while warm. Use a knife to go around the sides of the loaf to loosen if need be, then carefully remove it from the pan by tipping it into your hand, then setting on a platter. Make sure to peel away the parchment if it sticks to the cake.
- Once cool, cut the loaf into 12 slices to serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 177Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 180mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 4g
Nutrition data is always an estimate depending on program used to calculate and exact products used. This is given for informational purposes only and accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
Here are more Jewish vegan recipes.