honey sesame cake
Photo credit: Sonya Sanford

Israeli Honey-Sesame Cake Is the Perfect Rosh Hashanah Dessert

An nutty, sweet treat perfect for the High Holidays or a snacking cake year-round.

Honey and sesame are a perfect pair to welcome in the new year. Customarily eaten at Rosh Hashanah, honey is used to add sweetness to the new year, and sesame seeds are eaten for increased abundance, as their size makes them too numerous to count. Symbolism notwithstanding, honey and sesame are a classic flavor combination. 

Sesame seeds are also a favorite ingredient in Israeli desserts and across the Middle East. In Hebrew, this cake is known as “oogat soomsoom v’dvash;” Syrian Jews have a similar version called “ka’ikeh b’ah’sal.” This cake is all about the earthy nuttiness of sesame seeds that comes from using both tahini and toasted sesame in the batter. Once it’s baked and cooled, a honey glaze on top adds another layer of sweetness, and it can be drizzled on decoratively for a festive presentation.

This recipe can be made in one bowl without any special equipment, it is pareve (non-dairy) and uses simple ingredients. While this would be a welcome addition to any High Holiday spread, it is also an addictively delicious snacking cake that you’ll want to make year-round.

Photo credit: Sonya Sanford

Note: The cake can be made ahead of time and will last 5-6 days at room temperature, covered or in an airtight container.

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honey sesame cake
Photo credit: Sonya Sanford

Honey-Sesame Cake

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This nutty and sweet cake is pareve and made using only one bowl!

  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 912 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the cake:

  • cup white sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup honey
  • cup oil
  • ¼ cup tahini, stirred well
  • ¼ cup strong black coffee or black tea, warm or at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

For the glaze:

  • 6 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp black and white sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line and grease a 9” round or square cake pan. (This cake can also be baked in a loaf pan, but the baking time will increase.)
  2. Add the raw sesame seeds to a dry skillet over medium-high heat; toast the seeds until fragrant and just starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove the sesame seeds and transfer them to a dish; reserve and allow them to fully cool before using. You can use pretoasted sesame seeds, but toasting them yourself will give this cake a deeper sesame flavor. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, honey, oil, tahini, strong coffee or tea, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Using a mesh sieve or flour sifter, sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the wet ingredients. Mix until everything is just combined, be careful not to overmix the batter. Add the toasted and cooled sesame seeds to the batter, and mix until just evenly incorporated. 
  5. Transfer the batter to your lined and greased cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to fully cool.
  6. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, honey and water in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, and top with extra sesame seeds if desired.

Notes

The cake can be made ahead of time and will last 5-6 days at room temperature, covered or in an airtight container.

  • Author: Sonya Sanford
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Israeli

9 comments

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    • The Nosher

      This recipe has not been tested when doubled, but if you try it please let us know how it turns out. We would instead suggest to make two batches. The cake can be made ahead and frozen.

    • The Nosher

      It really is meant to be a sesame cake (and tahini is kind of key), the problem with another nut butter is they’re typically too thick, but thinned-out almond butter would work. Alternatively, you can simply replace the tahini with more oil.

    • The Nosher

      We have not tested this recipe with almond flour, but please let us know if you have success using it.

    • The Nosher

      Hi Edna, We have not tested this cake with an egg substitute or agave, but please let us know how it turns out for you if you try it. Rachel at The Nosher.

  • Maina

    Hi Edna, I’ve been making a vegan version of this recipe for a while now and it always turns out really good! I swap the 2 eggs for 2 “flax eggs” (2 tbsp of ground flax seeds + 5 tbsp of water) and the honey for a vegan honey substitute such as the Bee-mindful hunnie. Hope this helps!

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