honey cake
Photo credit Ellen Silverman.

Try This Holocaust Survivor’s Beloved Honey Cake Recipe

This decadent honey cake will be your new favorite.

This honey cake represents not only tradition and renewal in the New Year, but the endurance of survivors. Holocaust survivor Ruth Webber crafts this dessert with rich ingredients like brandy, almonds and brewed coffee. This decadent honey cake will be your new Rosh Hashanah standard.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from “Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors.”

Note: If you don’t have dried cherries, you use something else and improvise. What can I tell you!

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honey cake
Photo credit Ellen Silverman.

Honey Cake

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This honey cake is an enduring and delicious recipe that continues to be passed on.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 loaves


  • ½ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1 ½ cups honey
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup dried cherries, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbsp brandy
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 3 ½ cups + 1-2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans and line them with wax paper, then grease the paper.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the honey and coffee to a boil; set aside to cool.
  3. Soak the dried cherries in the brandy for about 30 minutes, then drain. In a small bowl, mix the almonds and cherries with 1-2 tsp flour to coat (this prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cake).
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend ½ cup oil, sugar and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 3½ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the mixer alternately with the coffee mixture until smooth. Fold in the almond-cherry mixture and orange zest.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a rich golden brown. Do not remove. Turn off the oven and leave the cakes in the oven to gradually cool for at least 10 minutes, to prevent them from caving.
  6. Continue the cooling for another 15 minutes out of the oven. Run a knife around the inside of the pan, then put a plate over the pan and flip it over. Slice and serve.
  • Author: Ruth Webber
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Holiday


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  • RS Mallory

    This “authentic” Holocaust recipe would not have had orange zest in it from Eastern Europe because oranges were not plentiful and were a rare delicacy. Dried Cherries, on the other hand are VERY authentic as they are ubiquitous throughout Europe, particularly the old “Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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