Honey cake is traditionally served for Rosh Hashana to bring about a sweet new year, but this version — from “Eat Something,” the new cookbook by Evan Bloom, co-owner of Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco, and food writer Rachel Levin — is great any time of the year. Its surprising secret ingredient? French vanilla-flavored boxed cake mix, a supermarket staple that lends the batter, doctored up with honey and spices, an exceptionally moist and tender crumb. Even better, it stays that way for a whole week, so you can cut slivers of cake whenever you need a sweet fix without worrying about it drying out.
To make the cake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 10-inch nonstick tube pan or Bundt pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, cinnamon, salt and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the honey, oil, orange juice and whiskey. Crack the eggs into the well. Whisk together the liquid ingredients, then move outward to incorporate the dry ingredients, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan and bake until the center of the cake springs back when touched, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. If you used a tube pan, use a knife to gently separate the sides of the cake from the sides of the pan, and sit the pan on top of a whiskey or wine bottle. Press down on the sides of the pan to remove it. Place the cake on the counter and use a knife to separate the bottom and inside ring of the cake from the pan. Flip the cake upside down onto the palm of your hand or a large piece of parchment paper on your countertop, and then flip right-side up onto a wire rack or heat-proof plate. (If you used a Bundt pan, unmold the cake by inverting the pan onto the rack or plate.)
Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees.
To make the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl to make a loose paste. Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake. Place the cake on the rack or plate in the warm oven for 4 to 5 minutes to set the glaze.
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