Thursday, May 23, 2019 -
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Classic honey cake

honey_cakeWhat’s Rosh Hashana without honey cake? We loved testing out the recipes for apple cake and chocolate tart, but couldn’t imagine going into tonight with no honey cake on offer. But how to find a good one? As Leah Hoenig writes in her ode to this unloved cake, honey cake is similar to fruitcake in that it always makes an appearance but often goes uneaten. Dry and tasteless are two of the most common adjectives associated with this dessert.

We decided to go with Hoenig’s recipe, which came to her via Marcy Goldman. We figured that as someone aware of the pitfalls, she’d make sure to produce a moist version of this Rosh Hashana classic.

A Honey Cake Worth Baking

Adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking


  • 3 1⁄2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1⁄8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 1 C light-colored honey
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 ⁄2 C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C warm coffee
  • 3/4 C fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 C sliced toasted almonds optional
  • powdered sugar for dusting optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and evenly grease a Bundt pan  or 2 loaf pans with plenty of butter, vegetable oil or cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  2. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, both sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and zest. Using a whisk or an electric mixer set to low speed, combine the ingredients to make a stiff batter.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet, and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it in the center, about 1 hour. (Be careful not to overbake.) Let cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then invert onto a wire rack to cool before slicing. Serve topped with almonds and dusted with powdered sugar, if desired.

Recipe Notes

This is nicely spiced cake; for a less spiced flavor, reduce the allspice to 1⁄8 teaspoon. Alternatively, for an even more nuanced flavor, reduce the orange juice by 1 T and add instead 1 T of whisky. Be extremely generous when buttering the pan, especially the bottom. We had difficulties removing the cake from the pan. And don't overbake!

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