LEKACH (OLD-FASHIONED HONEY CAKE)

Dessert, Food From Friends

6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup mild honey
1 tbsp. salt
2/3 cup hot strong coffee
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces (optional)
1 1/2 cups chopped crystallized ginger, plus small cubes for decorating (optional)

Early in the day or the day before baking, mix the batter. Oil two 9×5-inch loaf pans. In a very large bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and baking soda.

In a large pitcher or another bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, honey (measure it in the same cup as the oil and it will slip right out), salt and hot coffee until sugar and salt have dissolved. Add eggs and whisk until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is very smooth and thick. Fold in nuts and ginger, if using them.

Scrape the batter into prepared pans and smooth the tops. For a pretty presentation, press small cubes of ginger across the tops of the cakes. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.

On baking day: 30 minutes before baking, arrange an oven rack in the lower third position, remove any racks above it and preheat oven to 325°F.

Bake cakes about 1 hour or until well browned and a toothpick or wooden skewer poked into the centre comes out dry. After the first 30 minutes of baking, turn them around so that they bake evenly. Let cakes cool thoroughly in the pans on a rack before serving. Sealed in plastic bags, these cakes keep for weeks in the refrigerator. Makes two 9×5-in. cakes.