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Honey & Spice Cake

4.5 stars based on 12 votes

Honey-Cake

This gem of a cake comes from Marcy Goldman’s much-loved cookbook, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. Many people say the recipe alone is worth the price of the book, and I have to agree: it’s the best honey cake I’ve ever tasted. (Although, my mother never baked on the holidays so, thankfully, she spared me from eating all those traditional dry, dense honey cakes.) This cake is tender and moist with tremendous depth of flavor—there’s coffee and booze in it!—and the taste of honey shines through. What’s more, it couldn’t be easier to make. You mix the batter the old-fashioned way—in a single bowl with a wire whisk—then pour it into pans and place it in the oven. Less than an hour later, you’ll have three amber colored loaves ready to enjoy or give away, and your house will smell like fall. Oh, and it keeps well for days; the flavor actually continues to develop and improve, so go ahead and make it ahead of time.

ingredients

Begin by preparing your pans with nonstick cooking spray and a dusting of flour.

prepared-pans

Next, juice a few oranges (or feel free to skip this step and just use store bought OJ).

juicing-orange

Next, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a very large bowl.

dry-ingredients

Whisk to combine.

whisked-dry-ingredients

Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, eggs, brown sugar, coffee, orange juice, orange liqueur and vanilla.

adding-wet-ingredients

Whisk to combine.

cake-batter

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

ready-to-bake

Bake until the loaves are set, domed and golden.

baked-loaves

Let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

cooling-loaves

Enjoy!

honey-cake-1

Note: The original recipe is entitled Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake, and is shown here baked in an angel food cake pan. My changes were to: reduce the amount of baking powder to 1 teaspoon (too much leavening agent causes the cakes to rise high and then sink in the middle); and swap out the whiskey for orange liqueur, only because that’s what I had on hand and I thought it would work nicely with the orange juice.

Honey & Spice Cake

Servings: 12-14

Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned into a measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup coffee or strong tea
  • 1/2 cup fresh or store-bought orange juice (for fresh, you'll need 2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur or whisky (okay to substitute orange juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. I make this cake in three nonstick 8x4-inch loaf pans, but it can also be made in two nonstick 9x5-inch loaf pans or an angel food cake pan WITHOUT a removable bottom or a 9x13-inch sheetpan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. If using an angel food cake pan, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper.
  3. In a very large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, brown sugar, eggs, coffee or tea, orange juice, and orange liqueur and vanilla extract.
  4. Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on low speed, mix the ingredients until well combined. The batter will be pourable.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). Place the pan(s) on 2 baking sheets stacked together and bake until the cakes are set, domed and spring back when you touch them gently in the center (the stacked sheet pans will prevent the bottom from browning too quickly). For loaf cakes, bake for 45-50 minutes; for angel cake pans, bake for 60 to 70 minutes; for sheet-style cake, bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake(s) stand for 15 minutes before removing from the pan(s). Run a butter knife along the edges of the pans to help the cakes release, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the cake(s) in foil and store at room temperature for several days.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (14 servings)
  • Calories: 476
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 76g
  • Sugar: 51g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Sodium: 219mg
  • Cholesterol: 40mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I had never heard of a Honey Cake, but found this recipe while looking for a good spice cake to make. Every recipe I have tried from your site has become my new favorite and this is no exception. It was amazing, and very simple to make! I never change your recipes, however I didn’t have as much honey as I thought I had so I made up the difference with maple syrup. Thank you for sharing your talent and your recipes, you’re awesome!

    - LeAnn on January 14, 2017 Reply
  • 4 stars

    I made this cake in a bundt pan and had no issues at all with it sticking, I used all orange juice. I have to say, I was expecting it to be spicier and sweeter. It tasted like pumpkin bread to me more than anything (maybe because I used pumpkin spice coffee?) Anyway, it was good, but i would not make again expecting a cake.

    - Mary on November 14, 2016 Reply
  • I made this cake in a well greased bundt pan. It came out of the pan with no problem. The cake was moist and everyone loved the flavor. The leftovers were even better the next day (I did make it a day ahead, so the flavors could continue blending together).

    - Jeff on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • This is now my go to cake for the holidays! I have done it in a traditional bundt pan and in a silicon ring (bundt) pan and both turned out well, but I think I liked the silicon finish better. dusted the top with confectioner’s sugar. Also made a great gift cake for new neighbors and was very well received. Now a favorite of everyone’s! Need to do again in smaller loaves to freeze. Five stars!*****

    - Susan Rittenberg on October 6, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jen,

    Can you double the recipe?
    Thanks!

    - Jenny on September 25, 2016 Reply
    • Yes Jenny, and it freezes nicely if you have leftovers.

      - Jenn on September 25, 2016 Reply
  • 3 stars

    Bakes up beautifully.
    Way too sweet.

    - Linda on September 23, 2016 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Hi Jen
    So I followed the recipe exactly. Except that I halved it, and used a single loaf tin which was longer than the ones you prescribed… Ie, it was about 12″*4″. So half the recipe fit perfectly in to this tin. I placed this on a wire rack in the middle of the oven so that as you said the cake does not get to brown to fast on the edges and Base. At the end of about 55 minutes it was done, but when I inverted it, there were lots of sticky Brown sugary gooey bits of cake stuck to the pan (although it’s a non stick ikea loaf tin and a sprayed it with PAM and floured it) and so the cake wasn’t as neat as I would like. What should I do differently to avoid this?
    Barring this everything else was perfect. The cake is delicious. Thanks in advance!

    - Vanita on April 1, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Vanita, Hmmm, not sure why that would happen. Is it possible that your brown sugar was hard, and not fully dissolved into the batter?

      - Jenn on April 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This cake is seriously so amazing! I ended up making it twice this week, in order to share with more friends, family, coworkers…everyone loved it! My pantry was lacking the allspice and vanilla extract, so I substituted with nutmeg and almond extract. I’m holding onto this recipe for sure :)

    - chelsea on March 3, 2016 Reply
  • I don’t have allspice & rarely have a recipe calling for it. How should I adjust using a substitute, or should I just leave it out?

    - Marcia on January 18, 2016 Reply
    • Marcia, You could either omit it or use additional cloves or cinnamon in its place. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on January 18, 2016 Reply
  • Hi there!

    So excited to try out this cake! As to the coffee, will coffee from an espresso machine be too strong and overpower the other flavours? Should I substitute a shot or two of espresso for a cup of coffee, or water down the espresso to get a full cup of liquid?

    Thanks,
    Maha

    - Maha Naqi on January 15, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Maha, You could use espresso, but it will probably give the cake a stronger flavor. If you are concerned about it, you could use 1/2 cup espresso and 1/2 cup of water.

      - Jenn on January 15, 2016 Reply
  • Can I halve the recipe without any issues. I am going to have a dessert bar party and 3 loaves is just too much to have on hand :)

    - Swathi on December 20, 2015 Reply
    • Sure, that would not be a problem!

      - Jenn on January 5, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I had tried a similar recipe and it would always fall in the middle but your changes make all the difference. We loved the flavor and moist texture…I look forward to trying more of your recipes. :-)

    - D Watts on December 12, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this in to one loaf and 12 muffins. The loaf was a gift but we ate the muffins. They were delicious. Really good. I am going to use this recipe as the base the next time I make carrot muffins.

    - Dawn on October 18, 2015 Reply
  • What about using silicone bakeware? There’s lots of talk of sticking. Does it help to use silicone?

    - Rachel on September 20, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Rachel, I have not had any issues with sticking, but I do use nonstick bakeware, which is recommended in the recipe.

      - Jenn on September 24, 2015 Reply
    • I just wanted to let you know that I made the recipe using silicone loaf pans and it worked really well. No problems. I used one 9 x 4″ pan and four 5 1/2 x 2 3/4″ mini loaf pans. You can just peel them out of the loaf pans.

      - Rachel on September 27, 2015 Reply
  • Could these be made in a muffin pan with liners?

    - Raven H. on September 20, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Raven, Sure, that would work well.

      - Jenn on September 24, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Hi. I really like the flavour of this cake. I would suggest that the pans be greased, floured and wax paper on the bottom. Both my cakes stuck to the pan and unfortunately were not uniform. Still my children consumed the cake

    - Diana on September 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Once again, your recipe is out of this world. Seriously, this is one of the BEST cakes I have ever made. The combination of flavors was wonderful. I licked the batter clean from the bowl, and the cake disappeared almost instantly at work and church! :)

    - Sandy on September 18, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi! Yummy recipe indeed! Great for these days in which cooler days are coming in :)

    - Mariana Sarceda on September 17, 2015 Reply
  • Can you use a bunt pan?

    - Rob on September 17, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Rob, I haven’t tried it but it is not recommended — many people have said it sticks. You’re better off with an angel food cake pan lined with greased parchment.

      - Jenn on September 17, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Does this Honey and Spice Cake freeze well?

    - Carol on September 17, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Carol, Yes it freezes beautifully.

      - Jenn on September 17, 2015 Reply
  • this has 3 CUPS of sugar/honey – wow!
    does it really need that much? I would really like to make this but that is WAAAAYYYYY too much sugar? Thanks.

    - JK on September 17, 2015 Reply
    • JK – It really does need all that sugar and honey, otherwise the cake will be bland and dry. If it’s any consolation, the recipe makes a ton so although it seems like a lot of sugar at first glance, it’s really no more than your typical cake calls for.

      - Jenn on September 17, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    can you please advise
    I am in South Africa …. how much is 1 15 ounce ? I have a scale that is in GRAMS OR MAYBE CONCERSION TO CUPS please :)

    - sylvia Segers on September 17, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Sylvia, I’ve added metric measurements — there is a button on the top right of the recipe where you can select metric or cup measures. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on September 17, 2015 Reply
  • is there a honey of choice that you use ?
    I am so anxious to try this, sounds yummy!

    Thank You

    - L on September 17, 2015 Reply
    • I used ordinary supermarket honey b/c that’s what I had on hand, but I’m sure it would be even more delicious with wildflower or any specialty honey. Enjoy, and please let me know how it turns out :)

      - Jenn on September 17, 2015 Reply

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