Aunt Mary’s Honey Cake

photo taken by sierravalleygirl, January 18, 2006, CC licensing

From Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover's Treasury of Classics and Improvisations by Jayne Cohen (Wiley)

Yield: About 10 servings

Easy to prepare, the cake can be made several days ahead; wrap well in plastic. It also freezes nicely.


  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups canola or avocado oil, plus additional oil for greasing the pan
  • 2/3 cup honey (8 ounces), light or dark, according to preference (see Cook's Note)
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped, lightly toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds)
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and line it with parchment paper. (The oil will help anchor the paper in the large pan.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer in a large bowl until well-blended. Add the sugar gradually, and continue beating until thick and pale. Beat in the oil, honey, coffee, Cherry Heering, and orange juice on low speed.

Gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined; don't overmix. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and gently fold in the nuts and raisins, if using.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool to room temperature. Slip a thin-bladed knife around the cake to loosen the edges, then invert the cake onto a platter. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
Serve with good, strong coffee (see Cook's Note) or tea.

Cook's Note: Before measuring the honey, measure the oil, using a glass measuring cup. Then, without rinsing the cup, measure the honey. Every bit of the honey will slide out easily.

My friend, Erika Jakubovits, the elegant Executive Director of the Presidency of the Jewish Community of Vienna and an accomplished cook, makes an impressive cup of coffee. Her secret? In addition to using an excellent Viennese blend, Erika adds a generous pinch of salt to her freshly ground beans before brewing. Salt--integral to savories as well as to sweets--masks any bitter notes and enhances full-bodied coffee flavors. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon to the beans, as Erika does, or serve cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Sephardic or Askhenazi