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Honey & Spice Cake

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This cake is tender and moist with tremendous depth of flavor, and the taste of honey shines through.

Partially-sliced 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 are 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.

What you’ll need to make Honey Cake

Cake ingredients including honey, sea salt, and baking powder.

How to make Honey Cake

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

Sprayed and dusted loaf pans.

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

Person juicing an orange.

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

Bowl of unmixed dry ingredients.

Whisk to combine.

Whisk in a bowl of dry ingredients.

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

Dry and wet ingredients in a bowl.

Whisk to combine.

Whisk in a bowl of cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Loaf pans filled with honey and spice cake batter.

Bake until the loaves are set, domed and golden.

Three baked honey and spice cakes.

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

Honey and spice cakes on a wire rack.


Partially-sliced honey cake.

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.

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Honey & Spice Cake

This cake is tender and moist with tremendous depth of flavor, and the taste of honey shines through.

Servings: 12-14


  • 3½ cups all purpose flour, spooned into a measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup coffee or strong tea
  • ½ cup fresh or store-bought orange juice (for fresh, you'll need 2 oranges)
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur or whisky (okay to substitute orange juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  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.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, wrap it securely in aluminum foil, freezer wrap or place in a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

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

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Hi Jenn— could I substitute applesauce for half the oil? Would olive oil be okay to use? And could I add some yellow raisins to the batter?

    • — Carol on December 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, yes, you can substitute applesauce for half of the oil; just keep in mind that it will make the cake more dense and more moist. You can use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil, but it will add a different flavor to the cake. And, yes, feel free to add raisins to the batter.

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Jenn, another out of the park home run. Our whole holiday meal came from your recipes!

    I made this for tonight’s holiday dinner and it was the most delicious, moist and tasty honey cake I’ve ever had. The crowd of 11 loved it and many asked for the recipe. We don’t have liquor so I just added extra OJ. I did it in a bundt pan and had to kind of piece it back together as some of it stuck. I baked at 350 for exactly an hour and had no trouble with it collapsing. With baked goods I have started to use an internal thermometer just like I do with meat, 208-212 seem to be just right for cakes and breads.

    • — Elizabeth on September 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can I make this gluten free by using ‘Measure by Measure’ flour?

    • — Stacey on September 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Stacey, I haven’t tried this with gluten-free flour so can’t say for sure how it will turn out, but it should work.

      • — Jenn on September 12, 2023
      • Reply
      • Just to let you know it tasted great using measure by measure – a gluten free flour from King Arthur!

        • — Stacey on September 26, 2023
        • Reply
        • Great – thanks Stacey for letting readers know!

          • — Jenn on September 27, 2023
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Again – love all your recipes, so I’m excited to try this one. I used almost all your side recipes for my recent Thanksgiving, and my guests loved it! I am trying to cut my sugar intake – is it ok for me to use only half the honey and sugar in the recipe?
    A little more worried about the honey since it’s a liquid. Will halving it affect the moisture of the cake? Thank you again!

    • — Patrick on December 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Patrick, So glad you like the recipes and that the ones you used at Thanksgiving were a hit with your guests! For this cake, I think you could get away with cutting both sugars and the honey by a third, but I wouldn’t do any more than that, or it will impact the texture of the cake. Hope that helps, and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Jenn: Thank you for another marvelous recipe. This is the genuine article Rosh Hashana honey cake of my childhood – only better. I used less than half the granulated and it is plenty sweet. My husband snuck a bit off the side; delicious, he said; complex, moist and delicious. I whisked it away to the freezer where I trust he will leave it till Monday.

    • — Helen Kelly on September 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • ps I used one silicone bread pan one pyrex. Next time I’ll stick to glass, as the silicone pan listed a bit to the side. Never mind of course; the taste is spectacular.

      • — Helen Kelly on September 22, 2022
      • Reply
    • 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi! Love your recipes, Jenn. Foolproof! Question – can I use grapeseed oil for this cake? Thx!

    • — Stacey on September 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Stacey, that should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2022
      • Reply
      • It worked very well. I made in 3 loaf pans and weighed each so they were equal. Cooked beautifully and received rave reviews. Thank you!

        • — Stacey on October 5, 2022
        • Reply
  • Could I make this cake in a bundt pan?

    • — Helen Kelly on September 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Helen, I’ve never made this in a bundt pan, but a few readers have commented that they have successfully. Please report back if you try it!

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This recipe is one of our family favorites. I have also made it several times for friends and neighbors. It’s a hit every time! It’s the perfect recipe…quick to make, makes the house smell wonderful and it’s deliciously moist!

    • — Joan on September 9, 2022
    • Reply

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