A rich, dark, and sticky honey cake spiced up with fiery ginger and zesty orange.
A delicious way to celebrate a sweet New Year – or a treat any time!
Growing up, my Mum never made honey cake for Rosh Hashanah. She would make an enormous slab of the darkest, stickiest, sweetest ginger cake, which had a very generous amount of golden syrup in it, instead.
Size is everything
I say enormous, it’s possible that since I was quite small, everything just seemed big, and I only remember it being a vast expanse of cake when it was really just a completely normal size. Although I do seem to remember her baking it in a roasting tin, then cutting into loaves. But memory plays tricks, so who knows?
I’ve made honey cake a few times, but it never quite lived up to the memory of that sticky, spicy cake of Mum’s, so this year I decided to attempt a hybrid honey/ginger cake. I stuck with runny honey instead of golden syrup, used soft brown sugar for added richness and flavour, and spiced it up with ground ginger and the zest of an orange. I made a smaller and more modest loaf cake, but I may well double the recipe and make two in time for RH.
Mum’s cake was always unadorned, but I decided that since Rosh Hashanah is such a special occasion, I would add a decorative drizzle of honey icing, and some strands of orange zest for extra fanciness! Kipper thought that my simple decorations looked “beautiful Mummy!” although she was quite put out at having to wait while I took photographs before she could dive in and taste test it.
Unfortunately, the completion of photography happened almost exactly at lunchtime, so we shared a little slice and then put it away until we’d eaten something a bit, well, healthier for our lunch. It was quite hard to concentrate on our cheese salad sandwiches though, knowing what was waiting for dessert!
Shana Tova U’Metuka
The cake was just as gooey and sticky and rich and spicy as I’d hoped, with a wonderful honey flavour – the perfect homage to my Mum’s ginger cake, while still being definitely a honey cake.
I can’t wait to hear what my Mum thinks of it!
Makes 1 loaf cake – cuts into 8-12 slices.
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Sticky honey cake with ginger
- 75 g soft brown sugar (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp)
- 100 g runny honey (1/3 cup)
- 150 g plain flour (1 1/4 cups)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- zest of an orange
- 75 ml olive oil (or use a flavourless vegetable oil) (1/3 cup)
- 2 eggs
- 125 ml plant-based milk (I used oat milk) (generous 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the honey icing & decoration
- 40 g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 tsp runny honey
- 1 tsp plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
- Strands of orange zest
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line a 1.2kg (2lb) loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Put the sugar and honey into a small saucepan and heat on a low flame, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat once the sugar is all dissolved.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, and orange zest.
Separately, whisk together the oil, eggs, plant-based milk, and vanilla. Then whisk this mixture into the sugar/honey.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk well to give a smooth, runny batter. Pour into the lined tin and bake at 180C (350F) for 40-50 minutes, until risen, dark golden in colour, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes. Remove and leave on a wire rack until cold. (The cake may sink slightly.)
To decorate the cake
Carefully combine the icing ingredients to give a thick but runny icing. Drizzle over the cake - you may not need it all. Sprinkle over the orange zest and serve.
For a more complex flavour, you can substitute hawaij l'cafe spice blend for the ground ginger.
This cake stores well for a few days, well wrapped and in an air-tight container. It actually becomes more gooey and sticky after a day or two - yum!
By the way, if you’re wondering how to make long strands of zest, you just need this tool, which does the job perfectly.