Honey Cake

We all know I’m an Italian girl through and through, but today and tomorrow I’m featuring a couple of traditional Jewish recipes in honor of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, which began last night at sundown, and concludes tomorrow at sundown. I’ve become increasingly interested in Jewish cuisine over the last year or so, and actually purchased the cookbook Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited a few months ago. I read it cover to cover and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the background behind so many of the recipes. So I was totally excited when my Chief Culinary Consultant suggested putting together a traditional Jewish meal for Rosh Hashana since we are here in Florida and his grandfather (who happens to live down here) is indeed Jewish. This honey cake was our dessert (and might be breakfast for a couple of days too!).

Our menu for the Rosh Hashana dinner was:

Apple slices with honey for dipping (traditional and symbolic of a “sweet” new year)
Challah bread (I have a great homemade recipe here)
Matzo ball soup (my Chief Culinary Consultant’s mom made that with a recipe from a friend of her’s)
Apricot Chicken (recipe from Simply Recipes)
Noodle Kugel (recipe coming tomorrow!)
Honey Cake

This honey cake is the epitome of moist, and absolutely bursting with flavor. It is perfectly spiced, and the honey flavor is balanced with the combination of coffee, orange juice, and… whiskey! (Woo for boozy baking! If, for whatever reason, you prefer not to bake with alcohol, you can add an extra two tablespoons each of coffee and orange juice.) Basically, this is an amazing honey spice cake and would be perfect to serve to guests any day of the week. Or, treat yourself to a special Sunday dinner dessert – no guests required!

Everyone enjoyed the meal, and it was awesome to experience new and traditional foods. I definitely plan on making a number of these again!

Quick note: Since I made a bundt-style cake, I sprinkled the slivered almonds onto the bottom of the pan and then poured the batter on top. When I unmolded the cake, the almonds were baked nicely into the top and sides of the cake. I decided to sprinkle on a few more for decoration so you could see them. When the cake comes out of the pan it’s still warm and super-moist, so the extra almonds stuck right to it!

One year ago: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple-Cream Cheese Filling

Honey Cake

Yield: 14 to 16 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 to 75 minutes (depending on pan size)

Total Time: 1 hour to 1 hour 40 minutes

This recipe can be made in three standard loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9- or 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9x13-inch sheet cake. I made mine in a 9-cup bundt pan (a bit smaller than standard) and baked the leftover in an 8-inch loaf pan.


3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brewed coffee, warm
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup whiskey
½ cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. Even if your pan is non-stick, still spray!

2. In a large bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and whiskey, if using.

3. Using a strong wire whisk or with an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together until all ingredients are well-blended, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

4. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. (If you are using a bundt pan, sprinkle the almonds into the bottom of the pan before pouring the batter in). Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

5. Bake until the cake springs back when you gently touch the cake center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, almost clean. For tube and bundt pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

6. Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature, covered tightly.

(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)


42 Responses to “Honey Cake”

  1. Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat on September 29, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I’m excited to see you making a Rosh Hashanah meal! Yours hits on all my favorites. I will have to give your version of honey cake a try- boozy desserts are the best!


  2. katie on September 29, 2011 at 1:57 am

    That looks gorgeous and so moist. Indulgant range of flavours too.


  3. Kathryn on September 29, 2011 at 4:40 am

    This cake looks delicious – so perfectly moist and bursting with flavour. What a great end to a meal!


  4. Katrina on September 29, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I have a ton of honey to use up. This sounds lovely! Thanks!


  5. Penny Wolf on September 29, 2011 at 7:10 am

    This is a lovely recipe all the way around. It will be great with a cup of coffee or tea.


  6. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on September 29, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I wish I had some of this cake right now. It would go so perfect with my coffee. You make the most awesome foods. Sigh…. I need this cake right now!!


  7. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on September 29, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I’ve actually never made honey cake but it is the traditional rosh hashannah dessert. Hope you enjoy celebrating the holiday:-)


  8. Leah from Sweet and Sour Showers on September 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

    This cake sounds delicious. I’m excited to see your noodle kugel recipe tomorrow. It’s one of my favorites, but I don’t make it too often b/c the recipe I have is really unhealthy!


  9. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on September 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Oohh, this sounds fantastic!!


  10. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite on September 29, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Looks fantastic! I love honey anything 🙂


  11. Ashley on September 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

    This looks great – honey makes everything yummier 🙂


  12. Shawnda on September 29, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I’ve never heard of honey cake but I love all the flavors going on with the honey, coffee, whiskey, and OJ.


  13. Kita on September 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

    That sounds like an amazing Rosh Hashana meal! And this cake sounds lovely too! I wouldn’t mind having the leftovers for breakfast for the next few days!


  14. Kimmi on September 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm



  15. linda on September 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    i was looking for a new recipe…my search is over!
    i am going to make this for yom kippur. thanks michelle!


  16. RavieNomNoms on September 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    This looks amazing. Anything cake = yummy


  17. Kelly on September 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    What a delicious looking cake, I love this!! 🙂


  18. Cucina49 on September 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    L’shana tova–that must have been quite the meal!


  19. Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful on September 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    You would be a meshugana not to add this to your repertoire 😉 Totally making it – yum!


  20. karen on September 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    love the recipe and website, i will come back here more often!!


  21. Kristin on September 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    Quick question as I plan on baking this in about a half hour! I was thinking of making an Apple Brandy-Honey glaze to go on top. I was wondering how you think that would go flavor-wise with it? Seems there’s already a lot going on in the cake but I just love adding that final touch.



    • Michelle on September 29th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

      Kristin, Your glaze sounds delicious! I think it would be great. Let me know how you like it!


      • Kristin on September 29th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

        Thanks! I will keep you posted. I already made the Rugelach (for this first time) this morning! I hope my mother-in-law will be impressed tomorrow…


      • Kristin on October 3rd, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        Hi Michelle,

        My glaze came out really good with it! Just whisked together confectioner’s sugar, melted butter, apple brandy, some half & half, and honey. Eyeballed and tasted along the way until it tasted good enough to me! I actually stirred in the rest of the sliced almonds in with it before I drizzled all over the cake.

        I am posting a picture of it now on your facebook page…


  22. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on September 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    What a delicious ending to a delicious sounding meal!


  23. Kimby on September 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I appreciated that you gave alternate pan sizes, since my Bundt pan disappeared after living in 5 locations in 10 years. What a beautiful cake, full of flavor and tradition!


  24. Mi Vida en un Dulce on September 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    What a wonderful cake, it should be plenty of flavor, and the smell should be so wonderful too. Thanks for sharing.


  25. Jen at The Three Little Piglets on September 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    My favorite cake recipes are always the ones that don’t include frosting. I prefer a nice moist cake any day!


  26. RisaG on September 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I made 2 loaves today – one with almonds, one without. Used dried cherries and bourbon instead of raisins and whiskey. Also I only had half the honey left in the house so I used agave nectar for the rest. It is a bit less sweet than it would be but it is still terrific. Happy Rosh Hashanah to all those who follow!


  27. Happy When Not Hungry on September 29, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    What a beautiful cake!


  28. Lissa Brooks from Tacoma on September 29, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I loooooooove honey cakes. They’re just so velvety and rich with honey and butter flavor. Totally decadent. If you love the flavor of honey, you should try a Devon honey cake. I found it a long time ago in Victoria magazine. It’s a very dense, but extremely tender cake – I’m not sure how to describe it, but the texture is more like what you’d find in a crepe (only about 1″+ thick) rather than cake-like. But it’s sooo good. Always gone before the day is over.

    Devon Honey Cake


    6T honey plus 1T
    10T butter
    1/2C sugar (or brown sugar)
    1T water plus 2-3t hot water
    2 eggs
    3/4 cake flour
    1/2C powdered sugar

    Combine the 6T honey, butter and sugar (or brown sugar) in a saucepan and heat until melted. Remove from heat and mix in 2 eggs and flour. Pour into a greased and floured 7-8″ cake pan. Bake at 350° for 40-45 mins (less for the 8″ pan). Cool for 1 minute, then drizzle with glaze.

    Glaze: Combine remaining 1T honey, 2-3t hot water water, and powdered sugar to make a smooth glaze.


  29. Ann on September 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    How nice that you’re featuring Jewish dishes…I love it! This is a great recipe, too! Thanks!


  30. Ali on September 30, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Looks so delicious. I bet you all enjoyed the cake, craving for it 🙂 Happy new year


  31. naama peled on September 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    WOW! This looks so tasty . Wish I could have a slice or two…
    happy new year from tel aviv.


  32. Paula on September 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I was hooked just looking at the pictures of this before even reading the recipe as I could tell it had all the baking spices in it that I love as much for the aroma in the house when baking as when eating! Beautiful looking honey cake.


  33. Lori Lynn on October 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Sounds like a terrific menu.
    L’Shana Tova!


  34. Christine on October 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Congrats on Foodbuzz top 9!


  35. Liz on October 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve never made or eaten a honey cake, but now I’m dying to try one!! Thanks for the inspiration~


  36. Ally on October 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    This looks fantastic! I can see how moist it is. I’m sure this was a huge hit!


  37. Tabby Giant on October 13, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Really sweet, perfect for the occasion. Looks perfectly done with its fluffiness and moisture. Would love to try this out on weekend. Thanks for the recipe.


  38. Kim on September 17, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Thanks for the tasty recipe! I made this for Rosh Hashanah this year and it was a hit. I stole your bundt pan idea too because the round shape was fitting for the holiday symbolism (circle of life).


  39. Olive McGee on January 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I do really love chocolate cake, I’m so excited to bake like this. I’m sure my family will love it too!


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