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Best Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Honey Cake is the sweet treat many Jews eat on Rosh Hashanah, AKA Jewish New Year, as a symbol of hope for a sweet year to come. This honey cake recipe is deliciously moist with an alluringly crisp edge.

low angle shot of a sliced loaf of honey cake.

One day when my niece was about three years old, she declared, “I’m going to make a honey cake!”

I don’t think she had ever heard of honey cakes. But she does love honey. And I love her! So I started searching for honey cake recipes the minute I got home.

overhead shot of mini honey cake on plates with coffee and forks and spoons

Why Do We Eat Honey CAkes during Rosh Hashanah?

The holiday celebrates the dawn of the new year according to the Hebrew calendar. It is one of the two High Holy days in Judaism (Yom Kippur is the other) and therefore one of the most important holidays.

Honey cakes are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah because honey symbolizes our hopes for sweetness in the year to come. It is also customary to eat apple slices dipped in honey on the holiday.

What does Shana Tova mean?

During Rosh Hashanah, you’ll often hear the greeting “Shana Tova umetukah!” Or simply “Shana Tova!”

It’s the Jewish version of “happy new year,” translating more specifically to mean “have a good, sweet year!”

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What makes this the best honey cake recipe?

The biggest complaint people have about most Jewish honey cakes is that they are dry and lack flavor. I wanted something super moist and rich.

I searched for recipes for honey cakes that are nice and moist and found one on Smitten Kitchen. It was a recipe by Marcy Goldman’s from her cookbook A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.

If anyone knows her way around a Jewish dessert, it is Marcy Goldman. Smitten Kitchen calls Marcy’s honey cake “Crazy moist and soft and plush with a little crisp edge about the corners.”

This Honeycake recipe tastes wonderfully moist with a lovely crunchy edge. Plus it will fill your home with a delightfully sweet fragrance.

55 best recipes for Rosh Hashanah.

This cake is perfect for Rosh Hashana

The first thing you want in a Rosh Hashana honey cake is for it to be sweet. After all, that’s the whole point, right? A sweet cake to usher in a sweet new year. This cake is sweet, and it is also:

  • Moist
  • Tender
  • Not too dense
  • Full of the flavor of honey
  • Crisp around the edges

Honey, of course, gives the cake its signature honey flavor and makes it plenty sweet. But this cake has other flavorful ingredients, too. Coffee and orange juice give it bitterness and tang to counter the sweetness of the honey. It really is the perfect honey cake recipe.

What ingredients do you need?

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cooking oil (or soft butter)
  • Honey (you can use any honey you like. I love a good wildflower honey or orange blossom honey!)
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Large eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Brewed coffee or black tea
  • Orange juice (for extra orange flavor, you can add orange zest, too!)
low angle shot of a whole loaf of honey cake.

Marcy’s version (and Deb’s) includes cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. But I’m not crazy about a spice cake. I just want a cake that tastes like honey.

It may sound crazy, but I left all of those spices out. The result was perfect.

How do you make this easy honey cake?

You only need one bowl and a wooden spoon to mix this cake. You could, however, use a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer if you prefer. Just be careful not to overbeat it after adding the flour, as this can make a cake rubbery.

  1. Preheat the oven and spray the baking pan(s).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients—the oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, and orange juice—and mix thoroughly. You can also mix everything in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the whisk attachment on medium-high speed.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake in the preheated oven. You know it is done when the cake is golden brown, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

A little trick that makes this cake even better

Remember those crisp edges I mentioned earlier? Before baking, I drizzle a bit of honey over the batter. It caramelizes in the oven, giving the bottom of these honeycakes and edges of the cake extra crispiness.

The honey glaze also adds the deep, rounded flavor of caramelized honey. If you’re lucky you’ll even get a few bits of burnt honey around the edges of your honeycake, which is extra delicious.

Also, check out these 7 Tips for How to Bake a Cake.

A muffin tin filled with honey cake muffins.

My niece was delighted and proud of herself for coming up with the idea. My mother, who doesn’t even like honey cake, took home an extra-large hunk. [Breaking news: Mom called as I was writing this post, and said, “I just ate a third of the cake you sent me home with, and it is the most delicious honey cake I’ve ever had. I can’t stop eating it.”

Honey bundt cake on a plate next to a cup of coffee.

Tips for success

  • This recipe makes a lot (us Jewish ladies worry that someone will go hungry, so we always make extra, especially for special occasions like the high holidays). You can use three 9-by-5-inch loaf pans or one 9-by-13-inch baking pan, or three 9-inch round pan, or make 36 standard cupcakes.
  • Alternatively, you can use a mini Bundt pan with 6 cups as well as a few different sizes of small loaf pans.
  • Whatever size baking pans you use, be careful not to overfill them. Each pan should only be filled about halfway.
  • If you are using several small pans, you can place them all on a baking sheet to make them easy to get in and out of the oven.
  • Smaller portions will bake faster so be sure to adjust the baking time and check early and often.
  • You can also bake the cake in a convection oven, but you’ll want to reduce the cooking time by about 25 percent.
  • If you just want less cake, you can reduce the full recipe by 1/3 or even 2/3. See my recipe notes for details on how to cut down the quantity.
  • The recipe uses cooking oil for its fat, which makes it kosher parve (no meat or dairy). You can substitute unsalted butter if you like.
  • The recipe calls for strong brewed coffee or tea. The bitterness of coffee or tea balances the sweetness of the honey. But you can substitute milk or water in the same quantity. Note that if you use milk, the recipe will not be parve.
  • Feel free to add a diced apple or two, sliced almonds sprinkled over the top, a tablespoon of orange zest, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or 1/4 cup of whiskey to the batter or substitute almond extract for the vanilla extract.
  • The texture of this cake improves when it sits for a bit. I think it is best the day after it is made. Make it ahead and let the finished cake sit, uncovered, at room temperature.
A slice of honey cake on a white plate.

This morning I learned inadvertently that this cake, paired with a cup of coffee, makes a great breakfast. If you’re a sweets-for-breakfast person, you might want to try this Japanese Souffle Pancakes recipe, too!

If you’re looking for more cake ideas, try this Orange Sponge Cake, which is perfect for Passover, or this indulgent Chocolate Cake. Or try these amazing Instant Pot Brownies!

Round out your rosh hashanah menu

If you’re looking for more holiday recipes, I like to serve my famous Brisket with Dried Fruit and Spices for just about every Jewish holiday, including Rosh Hashanah. Roasted Beet Salad with Harrisa Dressing is a great side.

If you’re feeling extra, you can serve this cake with vegan whipped cream and it will still be parve!

More Jewish holiday recipes you’ll love

If you love this honey cake recipe, check out these other Jewish holiday recipes! From crispy Latkes to Beef Brisket with Dried Fruit and Spices to Hamentashen, I’ve got the perfect recipe for every Jewish holiday.

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low angle shot of a sliced loaf of honey cake.

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Robin Donovan
No spices, no distraction, just a simple, moist, delicious honey cake for Rosh Hashanah, or any time of year. Adapted from Marcy Goldman’s A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. This recipe makes a lot of cake. You can use either three 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, one 9-by-13-inch baking pan, or any equivalent-sized pans.
4.56 from 528 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert Recipes
Cuisine Jewish
Calories 265 kcal


  • cups 420 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup 237 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 cup 237 ml honey, divided
  • cups 300 grams sugar
  • ½ cup 110 grams brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 237 ml brewed coffee or strong tea
  • ½ cup 119 ml orange juice


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously grease the baking pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray, baking spray, or butter. (Use either three 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, one 9-by-13-inch baking pan, or any equivalent-sized pans.)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the oil, 3/4 cup of the honey, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, and orange juice. Mix thoroughly, until all ingredients are combined and no lumps remain.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling each about halfway.
  • Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of honey over the batter.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the cake is set all the way through and feels springy to the touch (30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your baking dishes). A tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
  • Let cool 15 minutes before removing from the baking dish. Slide a knife around the edges to help loosen the cake, if necessary.



1. This recipe makes three 9-by-5-inch loaf pans or one 9-by-13-inch baking pan, or 36 standard cupcakes.
2. Be careful not to overfill the pans—each pan should only be filled about halfway.
3. Smaller portions will bake faster so be sure to adjust the cooking times and check early and often.
4. You can cut this recipe down. To make one 9-by-5-inch loaf or 12 cupcakes, use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup honey (save about 1 1/2 tablespoons for drizzling over the batter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup coffee or tea, and 2 1/2 tablespoons orange juice.
5. To make 2 9-by-5-inch loaves or 24 cupcakes, use 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup honey (save about 3 tablespoons for drizzling over the batter, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2/3 cup coffee or tea, and 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon orange juice.


Serving: 1Calories: 265kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 169mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28g
Keyword honey cake rosh hashanah
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Honey cake for rosh hashana pinterest image
Last Updated: December 30, 2020


By on December 2nd, 2020
Photo of Robin Donovan

About Robin Donovan

Robin Donovan is the creative force behind All Ways Delicious. She's a writer, recipe developer, photographer, and cookbook author with more than 40 books to her name, including the bestselling Ramen for Beginners, Ramen Obsession, and Campfire Cuisine. Her work has been featured in major publications, both print and digital, including MSN, Cooking Light, Fitness, Buzzfeed, and Eating Well. More about Robin

More Posts by this author.

123 thoughts on “Best Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake”

  1. Just made this and wow is it delicious!
    I did a few changes to the recipe: I used cake flour not AP, used melted butter instead of oil, and substituted sour cream for the orange juice (a family member is allergic to citrus).
    This was a huge hit with the family and its almost gone.
    Definitely will make again!

  2. I am no fan of honey cake and I thought this was absolutely out of this world. My husband said best he’s ever tasted. I did use cinnamon and I did also add chocolate chips! I recommend. Next time I will try raisins.

  3. 5 stars
    This honey cake is lovely. I was searching for a Gluten Free Cake and stumbled on this. I used 2 springform pans, and successfully freezed one cake. Note: do not drizzle much over the ‘centre’ of the cake as it goes a bit boggy there. I always re-type and reorganize recipies, as I find ‘sentences’ of instructions hard to follow. For this, my method was … Combined WET + Combined DRY = BATTER then DRIZZLE then BAKE. My Non GF guests were just as pleased.

    • What type of flour did you use to make it gluten free? People ask all the time if I have a gluten free version but I’m not very experienced with gluten free baking and haven’t attempted one yet.

  4. Hi Robin
    I would love to try your Honey Cake recipe, however, nobody in my family likes the taste of coffee. Is there any substitute that may work?
    Thank you

    • You can use just about any liquid. I’ve used tea, more orange juice, milk (then won’t be parve, but if you don’t care about that it’s not a problem). A friend of mine used whiskey! That said, the cake doesn’t come out tasting like coffee at all. The bitterness of the coffee just balances the sweetness, but you don’t actually taste the coffee.

  5. 4 stars
    is this a traditional recipe that you bring to people? why three cakes? i know it says you can reduce to make less. just wondering (and yes i made the whole recipe). unfortunately i burned it a little. all that sugar, a dark pan. i didnt have orange juice so i sub’d lavender syrup – still delish.

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for the version to make 12 cupcakes. Since it’s just for me I can freeze the others and save for later. Delicious recipe

  7. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this cake. Honey cake was never popular in my family but for Rosh Hashanah, we have to have it, so it was like a Christmas fruitcake, something to be made and admired but not loved. No more! This cake is delicious. I love it without the warm spices that most recipes call for; this cake is about the honey, and it’s great. This is the only recipe I use anymore, and just baked them last night, so they would have time to “mature” before the holiday starts Friday night.

    Three cakes are generally more than I need so I freeze one or two (depending on how many guests we’re having). When I need a quick dessert, I buy coffee or caramel ice cream, slice the frozen cake horizontally, spread the ice cream on the bottom later, replace the top, weight it slightly, and refreeze. It looks fancy, which it isn’t, but it’s really delicious too.

  8. 5 stars
    I usually find honey cake just meh. I felt obligated to make one for Rosh Hashanah this year. OMG this is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I’m absolutely shocked at how good this is. I’m a very regular baker and this is one of my favorite cakes ever! I followed the recipe exactly, making two 8 inch square cakes. Then I stacked them when they cooled with Sarabeth’s apple jam in between the layers and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top. Yum!!!

  9. 5 stars

    Loved it, came out tasting amazing in a 13 X 9 tin. For the wow factor, could I use a Bundt tin next time

    Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  10. 5 stars
    I love this cake, best I have ever made. I cut down the sugar to 1/2 cup vs 1 cup as the last time it was a bit too sweet. Its moist and outstanding we cannot stop eating it.

    • I’m sorry that happened, but the recipe clearly states that as written it should be made in 3 loaf pans or the equivalent. 1 9-by-13-inch pan is not big enough.


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