honey cake with nuts on top and orange zest

It is very nearly the time of year in the Jewish festival calendar for Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. It is custom to wish people a “sweet new year” at this time, and we eat honeyed foods to symbolise the sweet New Year that is to come. One staple of the Rosh Hashanah table is a sweet and sticky honey cake.

This honey cake is dairy free, because in Judaism we do not mix milk and meat in our diets. It’s therefore quite common to find Jewish desserts are dairy free, as this means that we can have lots of delicious meat dishes in the main meal.

This honey cake features luscious walnuts, lemon, orange and cinnamon, which give it a nice spiced taste to compliment the honey. My favourite part of the cake is at the end, when you get to pour the glaze over it so you have a sweet stickiness all over and inside – exactly how a honey cake should be!

I decided to do this cake in a Bundt tin, as it is traditional in some countries to use the ring shape for big celebrations, and Jewish New Year is exactly that.

Perfect honey cake recipe

honey cake recipe

Serves 10


For the cake:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bi-carbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 2 medium oranges (plus a bit extra for optional decoration)
  • 170g dairy-free butter, plus extra to grease, room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 60ml soya milk or rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 100g chopped walnuts (plus a few extra for optional decoration)
  • 1 banana


  • 200g caster sugar
  • 350g honey
  • 175ml water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF and grease your tin. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, salt and orange zest in a bowl and put to one side.

Cream the butter and the sugar together until they are nice and fluffy, then whisk in the eggs (one at a time) and the milk, alternating between the two. Add the honey, then mash your banana and add this to the mix as well.

Combine your dry ingredient mix with your wet ingredients. Once combined, add in the chopped walnuts, then pour the mixture into your tin of choice.

Pop the cake into the oven, turning the heat down to 160ºC/325ºF for 30-40 minutes. To test if it’s cooked, pierce with a skewer – if it comes out clean, then the cake is ready (although note that there may be a bit of moisture on the skewer when testing the cake as it is a sticky honey cake – just make sure it is a bit of moisture and not lots of wet cake mix!).

Leave the cake to cool.

Meanwhile, put all the ingredients in a small pan over a medium heat, bring it to the boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pierce the cake all over so the syrup has lots of holes to sink into, then brush it with the syrup all over, Leave it to sink in for a minute or two, then pour the rest over the cake until it is all covered  If there is some syrup left over then you can pop it in a jug on the table for people to pour over their own slices.

You can reheat the syrup in a pan if you are making the cake in advance.

Words, recipe and images by Ella Miller