Honey Cake


A Sweet and Happy New Year 5770!

Shana Tova! It is Rosh Hashanah, and I had to make the honey cake I’ve made every year since 1979. It’s from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen. I wrote about this treasured book last Pesach (Passover), including recipes for almond macaroons and Egyptian haroset. The posts also explain how a
שיקסע (shiksaw)
like me learned about Jewish holiday traditions and foods. ≥^,^≤

I usually make only a half recipe, because when there are only the two of us, and me not having a sweet tooth, and the surprising number of people who don’t care for it (perhaps it’s the Jewish equivalent of fruit cakes which no one loves? {except me}). A half recipe usually carries us through the ten Days of Awe, the High Holidays.

But this year, our daughter has surprised us with a visit! She’ll be here for a few days, and we have already eaten one whole loaf! Very nice to have her here.

Honey Cake
From The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, by Joan Nathan
Half recipe, which I make for the the 2 of us:
2 small loaf pans (8″ x 4″ x 2½” — 20.3 cm x 9.8cm x 6.3 cm)
the original recipe amounts are in parenthesis : 2 bread pans plus a small loaf or large muffin)
page 87


  • ½ cup strong coffee
    (1 cup)
  • ¾ cup plus1 Tablespoon honey
    (1 ¾ cup)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon cognac – optional
    (3 Tablespoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • honey-cake_8164

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    (4 Tablespoons)
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
    (1 ¼ cups)
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
    (3 ½ cups)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    (1 Tablespoon)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    (1 teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    (1 teaspoon)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
    (¼ teaspoon)
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
    (¼ teaspoon)
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
    (½ teaspoon)
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
    (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
    (I think I usually add more, but I didn’t this year and wish I had.)
    (½ cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons candied citron – optional
    (¼ cup)

Preheat oven to 300°F (148°C). Generously grease and flour two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the coffee and honey and bring to a boil. Let cool, then stir in cognac.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the oil and brown sugar.
In another large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir in the nuts, raisins, and citron.
Stir the flour mixture and honey mixture alternately into the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake for 70 minutes, or until the cakes are springy to the touch. Do not serve for 24 hours, so that the flavor of the honey has a chance to develop.

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12 thoughts on “Honey Cake

    • Hmm. This cake sort of reminds me of something my grandmother (Finnish) used to make when I was a kid. She added cardamom, and used brown sugar instead of honey.

      The first few times I made this, I added cardamom and my husband said it was good, but different!

    • Yes, all my grandparents were Finnish!

      When I first married, I went through a phase of making Finnish recipes because my husband thought they were exotic. Fact is, I didn’t know how to cook, so I had to find a cookbook.

      But there were a lot of recipes I could try and know if they were “right” according to my grandmother’s meals.

      felia — viilia – never did get this to be “stretchy” (actually, I’ve never even known if this was supposed to be stretchy or if the starter was old and changed. Sometimes it was a little, sometimes it was slimy. Do you know what I mean?
      Nisua – Finnish Cardamon Bread – maybe pulla -different versions
      Korppu – sort of like biscotti
      squeaky cheese
      kulia – spelling unknown (maybe even the word is not right)??

      Lots more foods, but can’t remember now. I’d be happy if you could refresh my memory.

      Some sort of thin pancakes. And another that was thick and baked in an oven?

  1. Sorry I am answering this only now…
    What you call felia is viili. a dairy thing which indeed is supposed to be stretchy. My grandmother would always make it and we always had a starter at home. I would like to bring a starter with me from Finland but with no direct flights it is quite impossible….

    Nisu:We call it “pulla” it is a very typical sweet yeast bread that looks a bit like the challah!

    Korppu: That would be the “pulla” or “nisu# after the slices have been toasted in the oven.

    Squeaky cheese: that must be what we call “leipäjuusto” or bread cheese, it is squeaky!

    Kulia? Don’t know what that is..but the thick pancake baked in oven is “pannukakku” and usually eaten on Thursdays after the peasoup….

    • Kulia was a non-alcoholic drink, sort of darkish brown, not too sweet, carbonated. I no longer have a recipe and can’t remember what was in it.

      “Pannukakku!!” How could I forget that: my mom made it all the time.

      (Thanks for the reply: the reminder of the oven pancake makes me smile.)

    • I tried to find an answer but so far no luck: I don’t bake very often so I don’t have a kitchen scale.

      When I come across a recipe in grams, it’s usually a matter of common sense for how much fish or meat a person would use in a recipe. But baking is more precise.

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