This most elemental of Israeli cakes is simply called ugah bechushah, "stirred cake." The "stirred" in its title is roughly equivalent to the adjectival "one-bowl" sometimes appended to cakes in English: you put all the ingredients in one bowl and stir them together. (Incidentally, the Israeli stirred cake is not at all related to the American dump cake, which involves dumping cake mix over canned fruit and its ilk, but does not, as one might reasonably assume, refer to dumping everything into a bowl and...stirring it together.)
If muffins and sponge cake had a baby, it would be this cake. It's rife with improvisation possibilities: you can marble it, make it mocha, add vanilla or nuts, ratchet up the orange by adding zest. I like things complicated, but this cake, I'll take it simple. Those little Hebrew letters on my serving platter actually say the recipe right on there, that's how necessary this cake is.
Due to its ubiquity, this simple kind of cake is sold packaged at the supermarket, in which form it invariably graced my grandparents' coffee tables. Its moniker in the family was Osem cake, the name of the common brand. (For the record, Osem terms it "sponge cake" on its English-facing page but "stirred cake" on its Hebrew-language page.)
The first time I saw Osem cake sold Stateside, it was like running into an old friend at Shoprite. When I figured out it was dead simple to bake from scratch--well, that was basically like realizing the old friend is your soulmate, then marrying him. I still call it Osem cake, and it'll always be my favorite next to coffee on Shabbat.
Israeli cake, English cake pan
For reasons hitherto unknown, at least to me, the most commonplace cake pan in Israel is called an English cake pan, essentially a stretched-out variant of the American 9"x5" loaf pan. This kind of loaf pan is less commonly found Stateside, but I've gotten them at Ikea, and when those were scratched to within an inch of their lives, I discovered that Wilton makes a version they call a long loaf pan. I'm all for English cake: it's easier to bake through without burning the edges, the bake time is shorter, and it's easier to slice. But you can make this in a loaf pan, adding about 15 minutes to the bake time. This cake is usually served unadorned, except perhaps for a dusting of powdered sugar.
Israeli Coffee Cake - "Osem" Cake (parve)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup orange juice - from about 3 oranges - if you don't have quite enough, you can add water to equal 1 cup
- ½ cup neutral-flavored oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 bar chocolate, chopped - or 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and grease or line an English cake pan (see note).
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, orange juice, oil, and sugar and mix well.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir just to combine.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes, until golden and slightly domed. Cool in pan for 15 minutes or so, then carefully release for serving.