Impossible to Resist Honey Cake
Photo: Liz Rueven

Impossible to Resist Honey Cake

I tried to avoid this. Really, I did.

I wracked my brain, rustled through my ever expanding kosher cookbook collection and finally through up my hands and yielded to Melissa Roberts, my go-to recipe writer, for a traditional Rosh Hashanah recipe with a twist.

Like you, I was thinking, aren’t there enough honey cake recipes out there, already?

Maybe so, but I’m feeling sentimental about honey cake and here’s why.

I clearly remember the first time I fell for it.  D. brought S. home from Boston to share Rosh Hashanah with us. I could see that their love was deep and for real.

After attending services and returning to our place on that warm fall day, our family and guests retreated to the screened porch with cool drinks and nibbles before  diving into our late lunch.  When the doorbell rang it was unexpected, since all of our guests had already arrived.  HMMM.

The FedEx guy handed me a package, neatly wrapped in sharply creased and taped brown paper. It was from S’s Mom. Inside, was the first honey cake I ever fell for.

It was moist and bright with those forward facing Autumnal spices. Moist and flavorful, and not too too sweet.

Now, D. and S. have been married for exactly four weeks and 5 days. No reason to count. It’s just that I’m still basking in the memories of their glorious celebration and feeling joyful as we look forward.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask our bride for her family recipe this year.  While she has a stack of thank you notes looming  (proud to say that D. is sharing in the task) and a rigorous grad school schedule on her horizon, I am intent on giving the newlyweds some space to simply settle in without making any requests of them.  I will wait another year before asking for that recipe. I am sure it will be one of many we will share.

So, without a moment’s hesitation,  I turned to Melissa to whip up something equally moist and delicious, with a modern twist. Her updated classic is graced by a rich and perfectly dark chocolate drizzle. She shares her secret weapon of dusting chocolate with espresso powder to heighten the chocolatey-ness. Trust me, it’s not optional.

Now I have two honey cakes that I am crazy for. Lucky me and lucky you.

And cause you know I am a committed locavore, here’s a gentle reminder to support your local beekeeper and buy a mild varietal from your local apiary or farmers’ market. It will add to the goodness, all around. As always, I turn to Red Bee honey, in Weston, CT.

kosher honey cake
photo courtesy of Red Bee Honey, Weston, CT



  1. The cake batter seems reminiscent of the honey cake Mom brought home from Silver’s Bakery in Newark, eons ago. That chocolate drizzle is going to take it to a whole new level! Happy New Year to all!

  2. I had the pleasure of taste testing this delicious recipe and everything Liz says is true. The chocolate drizzle makes it extra special. It’s a winner and a wonderfully sweet way to begin the New Year.

  3. Even it is not Rosh HaShanah anymore I will try your recipe. This year I made a honey cake with a recipe from My uncle and mother (seriously) loved it! To me it wasn’t that fabulous, don’t know why, I think to me it tasted too much like gingerbread. It was moist because I used oil and not butter (now I know why it was so moist ;)) but still the outside was too hard for my taste. Should I cover it while baking? Cause the first half hour I didn’t and after half an hour my mother looked at it and saw that it was turning dark so she covered it for the rest of the half hour. Hag Sameah!

    • Sarah, I don’t recommend covering a cake when baking, ever! I can’t say what went wrong with the cake you are referring to but assuming that the recipe is accurate, it might be that your oven is running hot. Try using a thermometer on your middle rack to gage that. And you may want to avoid the ginger if you don’t care for that flavor. No problem mixing up the spices in these types of cakes. I will surely be making Melissa’s recipe for honey cake before next Rosh Hashanah. If you try it, let me know how you like it.

    • Denise, I believe non-dairy creamer would be a fine sub here. Just be sure to steer clear of anything “light”. I suggest starting with 1/8 of a cup of creamer and working up to 1/4 (what the recipe calls for) just to be sure the drizzle isn’t too thin. Shana Tova!

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