The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, looms at the end of each summer and comes around just as the darker months arrive. Its appearance has an effect on even the laxest of us Jews, like the extra credit that can neutralize all of the year’s offenses. It can be an anxiety-inducing day for many who are grappling for forgiveness and clean slates. Aside from the lack of food or water for 25 hours, Yom Kippur is truly exhausting, physically and emotionally.
On breaks between prayers and sermons, hushed conversations abound among the fasters regarding cravings and fantasy meals. On one side of the congregation, you can usually catch the words "bagels" or "babkas" among the whispers, while chopped liver recipes are discussed on the other. Whisky tends to frequent these muted discussions among the older men. Each and every faster has their own tradition for this annual act of self-care (and love), the breaking of the Yom Kippur fast.
Symbolizing the start and continuation of a "sweet" new year ahead, honey cakes are often gifted from one family to another during the period between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to Yom Kippur.
It takes a lot for me to set aside my savory tooth and prioritize dessert, but I’ve realized these three necessities of my mother’s table and have developed a simple cake with complex flavors: the nuttiness of brown butter, the sweetness of honey, and the aroma and energy boost of English breakfast tea.
It’s the comfort cake that can forgive all. —Emanuelle Lee
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
- Makes 1 cake
whole, skimmed, or oat milk
English breakfast tea bags
(about 2 sticks plus 1½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
light brown or Demerara sugar
- Heat the oven to 340°F/170°C. In a small pot, bring the milk to a boil. Transfer to a small bowl and add the tea bags. Let infuse and cool.
- Wipe out the pot and heat over medium. Melt the butter, then slowly let it become dark golden in color. It should become very foamy, and the milk solids should be light brown. As soon as you reach this color, transfer to another small bowl (as it will burn quickly) and mix in the honey. Let cool.
- Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger and mix well to combine. Once the brown butter and milk have cooled, squeeze the residual milk from the tea bags into the milk and discard them. Add the milk to the brown butter mixture and mix well.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, reserving a little bit in case the batter gets too thin. Add the eggs and mix again until smooth.
- Grease a 9x5-inch pan with a little bit of butter or oil. Pour in the batter. If the batter is less than an inch below the top of the pan, pour a little bit out to prevent overflowing.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan. It should rise in the oven and deflate slightly once cooled.