This Jewish Honey Cake is a beautifully soft and spice-infused cake. It's – you guessed it – a traditional Jewish recipe that calls for (a lot of) honey.
A READER RECIPE for Jewish Honey Cake
A big thank-you to Suzanne Quintner for sharing this recipe. Suzanne is a retired teacher, food manufacturer and food consultant who had a cultural food segment on Brisbane ABC radio for many years.
Suzanne tells me the recipe originally comes from the late Maya Zetlin, who won a competition for it in The Jerusalem Post about 50 years ago. Maya brought the recipe with her when she left Israel to settle in Brisbane, Australia, and Maya's children are happy for me to share this recipe here. Thank you.
What is Jewish Honey Cake?
Jewish Honey Cake is an oil-based, dairy-free cake that's packed with honey and spices.
As the name suggests, it's also infused with culture and tradition – and Suzanne tells me that it embodies the wish for a sweet New Year. At Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), "there's a honey cake on every table," she says.
Jewish Honey Cake is such a culturally and historically significant cake, that it has been described as "more than a cake; it connects Jews to Torah, holidays and the sweetness of life."
Ingredients for Jewish Honey Cake
The ingredients you'll need are:
- brown sugar (or caster sugar)
- vegetable oil
- strong black tea or coffee (or apple juice)
- honey (lots of it – see the recipe card below for all ingredient quantities)
- SR flour (or plain / all purpose flour + baking powder)
- cocoa (optional)
The ingredient measurements can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Tips for choosing honey
Given honey is the star in this cherished cake, and you'll need plenty of it, I want to offer a few tips for choosing honey:
- Buy it in bulk if you cook with it a lot (and why wouldn't you cook with it when there are so many delicious honey recipes – Honey Jumbles, Honey Joys and Honey Biscuits to name just a few others).
- Choose raw, unfiltered honey rather than regular honey. Raw honey does not go through the processing that regular honey goes through and therefore retains the honey’s healthiest compounds – things like like bee pollen and antioxidants. Regular honey may also contain added sweeteners.
- Light or dark? They do vary in taste so choose darker honey for a more woody, pronounced taste and light-coloured honey for subtle, fruity aromas.
- Support you local beekeepers and buy local honey produced by local bees where possible. I'm lucky to have a beekeeper only metres down the road from where I live – check out the gorgeous Hunter Valley honey pictured below!
TIP: If your honey has crystallised this is actually a good thing and means it is pure, with no additives thrown in to prevent this natural process. You can help the honey quickly regain its original liquid texture by putting it in a bowl, immersing the bowl in a warm water bath and stirring until you reach that lovely liquid consistency.
How to make Jewish Honey Cake
This cake is so easy to make – yes, it's the cake that just keeps getting better.
Start by pre-heating the oven to moderate (180 degrees celsius/355 degrees fahrenheit).
You'll need a large cake tin (23 x 23 x 5cm or similar ). Grease and line it with baking paper.
Next, beat the eggs, oil and sugar together until well combined.
Add the honey and coffee/tea and beat on low speed until combined.
Add the sifted dry ingredients, one third at a time, and fold into mixture using a spatula or wooden spoon.
Pour the mixture (it will be quite runny compared to most cake batters) into the prepared cake tin.
Bake your cake for about one hour or until a rich, golden brown colour and top of cake feels springy when you gently touch it.
TIP: Check cake after about half an hour and reduce temperature by 10 degrees if it seems to be browning too quickly.
Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 or 15 minutes before carefully turning the cake out and placing on a cooling tray to finish cooling completely.
I've included substitution ideas in the recipe, however here are a couple of extra ideas to mix things up a little:
- leave the cocoa out (as per the original recipe – I couldn't help but add a teaspoon) or add a whole tablespoon instead of a teaspoon
- add a grated apple when adding the tea/coffee and honey (Suzanne tells me that apples are a particular traditional part of Jewish New Year food: "We dip apple in honey and recite a blessing for a peaceful and sweet year).
Q. How long will this cake keep?
Jewish Honey Cake will last for a few days and a couple of days longer if stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
Q. Can you freeze this Jewish Honey Cake?
This cake freezes well. Allow to cool completely before freezing and then wrap well before freezing for up to three months.
Q. Where does this honey cake recipe come from?
This is a traditional cake, published in an Israeli newspaper and generously shared with me. Read more about this recipe at the beginning of this post.
Q. I have a special family recipe I'd love to share – do you accept recipe submissions?
I'd love to hear about your recipe. Get in touch and tell me about your recipe, why it's special and why you'd like to share it.
Q. Do you have more cake recipes?
I do! Plenty! You might like to check out these recipes: Boiled Chocolate Cake, Carrot Cake, Pumpkin Cake, Butterfly Cakes, Lemon Cake and Coconut Cake. Or check out the entire cake recipe collection.
Jewish Honey Cake
- large cake tin (23 x 23 x 5cm)
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup brown sugar (140 grams)
- ¾ cup vegetable oil (190ml)
- ¾ cup strong black tea or coffee, still warm (190ml)
- 1 ¼ cups honey (310ml)
- 350 grams SR flour (2 ⅓ cups) (or same amount of plain / all purpose flour + 5 teaspoons baking powder)
- 1 teaspoon cocoa
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- Pre-heat oven to moderate (180 degrees celsius/355 degrees fahrenheit).
- Grease cake tin and line with baking paper.
- Beat eggs, oil and sugar until well combined.
- Add honey and coffee/tea and beat on low speed until combined.
- Add sifted dry ingredients, one third at a time, and fold into mixture using a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Pour mixture (it will be quite runny compared to most cake batters) into the cake tin.
- Bake for about one hour or until a rich, golden brown colour and top of cake feels springy when you gently touch it. Check cake after about half an hour and reduce temperature by 10 degrees if it seems to be browning too quickly.
- Allow to cool for about 10 or 15 minutes before carefully turning cake out of tin and placing on a cooling tray to finish cooling completely.