Honey cakes
Photo credit: Dikla Frances

Traditional Honey Cake with a Delicious Twist

This cake is transformed with a few easy tweaks.

Honey cake is always one of the highlights of Rosh Hashanah. I ensure this cake is moist by adding applesauce, and that it’s decadent with sticky, sweet honey. Even in its simplest form, this easy honey cake is sure to be a winner.

But if you’re getting a little tired of the classics and are looking for a way to make Rosh Hashanah your own this year, why not add a twist or two? Through a couple of easy tweaks, my basic honey cake recipe is transformed into a unique, beautiful take on the traditional holiday bake.

First up: the sliced almond– an often overlooked ingredient. I bake up my basic honey cake, and drizzle it with an extra ¼ cup of warm honey when it emerges from the oven. The honey soaks through the cake, making it even more indulgent, and also acts as edible glue for sliced toasted almonds, which I sprinkle all over the top. The deep, almost savory flavor of the toasted nuts provides the perfect balance to all that honey. Plus, the nuts add a welcome textural contrast to that squidgy cake.

If you’re opposed to traditional honey cake on the grounds that it’s a brown food, amp up the aesthetics with a sprinkling of bright red pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates are a symbolic food on Rosh Hashanah, one of the “simanim” that make up Sepherdi and Mizrahi Rosh Hashanah seders. Before eating the pomegranate seeds, they traditionally say, “May we be as full of mitzvot (commandments) as the pomegranate is full of seeds.” Pomegranates also symbolize fertility and love in Jewish tradition, and are one of the Seven Species of Israel. Plus, they add a burst of freshness and a little crunch to your cake.

That said… we highly recommend baking both versions as there is no such thing as too much honey cake!

Photo credit: Dikla Frances

Reprinted with permission from One Sarcastic Baker.

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almond honey cake
Photo credit Dikla Frances

Honey Cake with a Twist

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Traditional honey cake with a couple of easy twists. 

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 912 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • ¾ cup dark or light brown sugar (dark brown sugar will result in a darker, moister cake)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp honey

Optional: ¼ cup honey, 1 Tbsp powdered sugar and/or ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds, for decorating

For the almond honey cake, add: 

  • ½ cup sliced toasted almonds
  • ½ cup warm honey, for soaking

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 340°F. Line the bottom of a 9″ loaf pan (or 9″ round pan for the almond honey cake) with parchment paper and grease the sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.
  3. In a large measuring cup, mix the applesauce and honey together. Set aside.
  4. Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on medium speed for a few minutes until the mix is lighter in color, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl. Return speed to medium.
  6. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the applesauce-honey mix.
  7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake until the center is golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, 45-50 minutes.
  8. Optional: Drizzle the cake with ¼ cup of warm honey or dust it with some powdered sugar. Let the cake cool before slicing. 

For the almond honey cake:

  1. Repeat steps 1-6.
  2. Pour batter into greased round pan. Bake until the center is golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, 25-30 minutes. 
  3. When ready to top the cake, preheat oven to 300°F. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet.
  4. With a small toothpick, poke the cake and brush it with the warm honey. Top with almonds.
  5. Bake for 5 minutes. Allow the cake to completely cool before placing on a serving dish.
  • Author: Dikla Frances
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
  • Category: Rosh Hashanah
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi

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