With the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) around the corner, we wanted to share a delicious recipe for a traditional honey cake. Honey is used in the Jewish New Year holiday as a symbol for the sweetness to come in the year ahead and has become a common staple at the festive Rosh Hashanah meals.
Honey cake has had a long and diverse evolution, with variations of honey-sweetened desserts existing for thousands of centuries around the world, from Ancient Egypt and Rome to China. From breadcrumbs mashed with honey came the sweet and spiced cake we know today. It’s thought that Honey Cake made its way to Central Europe during the 12th century, where Medieval Ashkenazi Jews adapted it into their cuisine, and over time it became a staple treat on Rosh Hashanah.
More than just a cake, this tradition connects Jews to their history, the New Year festival, and a reminder of the sweetness of life. Honey cake also has the benefits of a long shelf life and it is even said that this cake is better a couple days after it is made.
This recipe is adapted from Marcy Goldman’s Treasure of Jewish Holiday Baking honey cake recipe.
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves +
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup warm tea (strong)
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- Optional: 1/4 cup whiskey
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease three loaf pans or two 9-inch square / round cake tins with non-stick cooking spray.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white & brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, tea, orange juice and whiskey. Mix well to make a well-blended batter.
Pour mixture into prepared pan(s).
Bake for around 45 to 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. For some cake tins this may take 65 minutes or more.
Allow the cakes to stand for 10 minutes before removing from each tin.