Honey Cake

Zoe Kanan

1 hour and 35 minutes

10-inch bundt cake

Honey cake with whipped cream served with coffee
Photo by Jewish Food Society.

Each Rosh Hashanah in Texas, baker Zoe Kanan’s grandmother Helen would bake honey cakes, carefully wrap them, and bring them to the post office to mail to relatives in New York. Zoe traced the recipe to Poland, where her family is from. “The original version was from my great-grandmother Sadie. I’ve figured out that her version was a piernik — almost like a gingerbread,” Zoe says. Sadie would make a large batch and cut it into slabs, giving out pieces to family members, much like Helen did. The recipe has changed considerably over the years, but Zoe says she still sticks to her grandmother’s wisdom, baking the cake a few days in advance, allowing the flavors to come together.

To make this honey cake pareve or non-dairy, Zoe recommends using coconut cream instead of heavy cream and cashew milk with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to replace the buttermilk.

This recipe comes from our partner the Jewish Food Society. Read more about Zoe’s family story here.



  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon buttermilk 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Nonstick spray or melted butter for greasing the pan
  • Special equipment: Candy thermometer


  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract and coffee grounds (if using) into the heavy cream and set aside.
  3. Caramelize the honey: place the honey in a deep pot with tall sides (the honey will foam a LOT). Set the pot over medium-low heat and bring the honey up to a boil, stirring regularly. Once foaming, stir constantly and cook to 285°F, about 5-8 minutes. Slowly (and carefully!) whisk in ⅓ of the cream, vanilla and coffee (if using) mixture and stir to combine. Mix in the remaining cream and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar and brown sugar, breaking up any lumps with your fingers. Whisk in the oil, buttermilk, and eggs to thoroughly combine.
  5. In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and clove and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients and the caramelized honey mixture.
  6. Use a large whisk to slowly pull the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until combined into a smooth, thick batter.
  7. Using nonstick spray or melted butter and a pastry brush, coat the inside of a 10 inch (12 cup) bundt pan very thoroughly. Don’t miss the inner column – this batter is sticky!
  8. Fill the prepared bundt pan and bake at 325°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back to the touch, about 50-55 minutes.  
  9. Cool for 20 minutes before unmolding, then let cool completely and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy with fresh whipped cream and a dollop of apple butter!

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