Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Today when. Annie Mitchell Egan and I chatted on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio, the subject was Rosh Hashanah which will be celebrated tomorrow through Sunday.

It’s traditional to eat the head of a fish during the Rosh Hashana holiday meal. 
The wish there is that  they hope everyone at the table will be at the head and not at the tail of whatever they do in the new year.  Fish is also eaten because it is an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance.

Over the centuries it has become associated with many food customs, for instance, eating sweet foods and sweet egg bread  to symbolize hopes for a “Sweet New Year.” 

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, people dip challah, that sweet egg and honey bread, into honey and say the blessing over the challah. Then they dip apple slices into honey and say a prayer asking God for a sweet year. Slices of apple dipped in honey are often served at religious school – as a special Rosh Hashanah snack.

So challa is traditional Jewish bread and part of the celebration.

It’s a braided egg bread and during Rosh Hashanah, instead of the regular long braid, the bread is shaped into rounds. That shape symbolizes the continuity of creation.

Part of the celebration is eating a “new fruit”. How does that fit in?

The new fruit, eaten on the second night, would be a fruit that has recently come into season but which no one has eaten yet. When the fruit is eaten, a blessing thanking God is given.  This ritual reminds them to appreciate the fruits and harvest of the earth and being alive to enjoy them.

A pomegranate is often used as this new fruit. It’s said that this fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 divine commandments.  Another reason given for is that they wish their good deeds in the new year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.

Lots of Jewish households make honey cakes. What’s the symbolism there?

It’s another way to wish for a sweet new year. It’s a generational food, like challah, and some families pass down the special recipes. Today I’m going a little off base with this easy and yummy honey bun cake – tastes like a honey bun. The icing has honey in it to signify the occasion.


Ingredients cake1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix2/3 cup oil4 eggs8 oz. sour cream1 cup brown sugar, packed1/2 cup very finely chopped nuts – pecans or walnuts are good (opt)1 tablespoon cinnamon or apple pie spice
Ingredients icing: whisk together and add more sugar if necessary to make glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar1 tablespoon honey whisked into 3 tablespoons milk 1 teaspoons vanilla 


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream. Stir by hand until most large lumps are gone. Pour half of the batter into a sprayed 9×13 inch pan.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter in the cake pan. Spoon the other half of the batter into the cake pan, covering the brown sugar and cinnamon. Make swirls with a knife.
  4. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.Cool and drizzle frosting on. 

Adapted from Betty Crocker.

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