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. Maybe 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?
Sticky honey cake
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.
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 Rosh Hashanah.
Honey cake ingredients
A lot of honey cake recipes call for coffee, which I don’t like as I think it masks the flavour of the honey. This recipe doesn’t use coffee but instead has orange zest and ginger which (in my opinion) highlight the honey flavour beautifully.
To make this cake yourself, you will need:
- Honey – obviously! Choose a mild or a stronger flavoured one as per your preference.
- Brown sugar
- Plain flour – also called all-purpose flour.
- Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda – for a lovely light textured cake.
- Olive oil – or you can use any mild-flavoured vegetable oil.
- Milk or a plant-based alternative – I like to keep my cakes dairy free.
- Ground ginger
- Orange zest
- Vanilla extract – optional but I like to add a dash to enhance the flavour.
Mum’s cake was always unadorned. However I decided that since Rosh Hashanah is such a special occasion, I would add a little decoration to mine. Just a simple drizzle of honey icing, and some strands of orange zest for extra fanciness!
My daughter 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 taste test it.
Unfortunately, the completion of photography happened almost exactly at lunchtime. Rather than tuck in, we shared a little slice and then put it away until we’d eaten something a bit more savoury for our lunch. It was quite hard to concentrate on 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.
What a Rosh Hashanah treat!
Makes 1 loaf cake – cuts into 8-12 slices.
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Sticky honey cake with ginger
- 75 g soft brown sugar
- 100 g runny honey
- 150 g plain flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- zest of an orange
- 75 ml olive oil (or use a flavourless vegetable oil)
- 2 eggs
- 125 ml plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the honey icing & decoration
- 40 g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 teaspoon runny honey
- 1 teaspoon plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
- Strands of orange zest
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). 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 180°C (350°F) 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.
By the way, if you’re wondering how to make long strands of zest, you just need this tool, which does the job perfectly.
More delicious Rosh Hashanah cakes and bakes
If you’re after more Rosh Hashanah bakes, how about this gorgeous Devon apple cake with honey crumble topping, or these fabulous apple and honey cookies.
Or if you can’t get enough ginger, try these delicious Dutch ginger cake squares, some ginger spice cookies, or a scoop of vegan stem ginger ice-cream.
Do you use a light brown sugar or dark brown sugar please?
Hi Heather. In this recipe I used ‘soft brown sugar’ which is a generic, mid-brown sugar that’s widely available in the UK. If you only have light or dark, you could try using a mixture of the two. Alternatively, either one should work on its own but obviously the flavour of the cake will vary a little bit depending on which one you use. I hope this helps! All the best, Helen.
I make this cake at least once a week and it turns out perfectly. I follow the recipe exactly and it’s never failed once . Lovely spiced cake!
That’s great to hear – so glad it’s so popular!
This was so tasty. I made it for the first time yesterday to take to a BBQ at a friends. I was hoping to be able to bring half back home but within minutes of it being put out on the table it was gone……..I think the host had 3 slices on his own!. From my point of view I love that this is made with honey rather than golden syrup or treacle.
Thanks Mat! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! I usually make them two at a time 🙂
I made this today for my husband who is diabetic. Honey is ok but I try to only use recipes that are low in sugar.
I made a mistake putting it together, and forgot the oil.
Also I had no plant based milk, so I used fat free fromage frais.
Surprisingly, it has turned out really well.
Hubby nabbed a piece before I put the icing on top.
He said it tastes good, and that it didn’t need any icing, but I’ve put some on to finish it off.
So I’ll be making it again, with the oil.
Thanks for the recipe.
So pleased to hear that you both enjoyed it. I’m glad it’s such a forgiving recipe and turned out well even with the substitution and missing oil!
This sounds delicious. Planning on making for Rosh Hashanah. I just wanted to check, what size eggs do you use?
Hi Jane. I usually use medium eggs, but I think the recipe is pretty forgiving. I hope you enjoy it! And Shana Tova x.
Thanks Helen. I just saw your reply but only have large eggs in. I used mix of cinnamon and ginger and cows milk. 2 cakes now in oven. Smells delicious. Fingers crossed they work out. Shana Tova to you and your family x
Shana Tova to you and yours too 😀
I hope you enjoy the cakes!
This cake sounds amazing. Adore spicy cakes and the addition of honey sounds amazing
Thanks Candace. I love spice in a cake, too.
Cakes are always welcome in my home. Like you, I too have many wonderful memories of my mother making delicious desserts and cake. I enjoyed reading the recipe and about the wonderful combination of Honey, ginger, and orange. The cake looks amazing. Your mother would be proud. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I am looking forward to trying this one in my kitchen.
Thanks Robotance 😀
My Mum will be with us for Rosh Hashanah so I’ll be able to get her opinion first hand! I hope you enjoy the cake too.
Oh I say, this looks wonderful! Ginger is one of my favourite flavours, lovely in a gooey cake, and with honey as well. Delish!
Thanks Kavita. I love ginger too – spicy and delicious ?
omg this looks amazing! I love the sound of the spices and honey, this would be so lovely with a cup of tea in the afternoon!
Thanks Georgie. Tea and cake – sounds like a great idea!!
Shashi at SavorySpin
I’m so loving the combo of honey and ginger in this scrumptious cake – what a tasty treat after school or work!
Thanks Shashi. It’s a yummy treat any time!
I have a fresh jar of honey that would be perfect for making this cake!
I hope you enjoy it Jessica ?. The flavour of the honey really comes through in the cake. Yum.
Amy | The Cook Report
That cake looks and sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it!
Thanks Amy. We really enjoyed eating it!
Ginger, orange and honey make me think of fall. They are all so warm and homey!
Thanks Amanda. I’m really looking forward to the autumn ?
This ticks all of my boxes. I adore honey and spice and definitely sticky 🙂 Also love the idea of a large cake cooked in the roasting tin. Your mum was definitely onto something there.
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
Oh my word, this looks amazing. I’m actually not the biggest fan of ginger, but weirdly when it comes to sticky ginger cake, I love it haha
Thanks Becca! I love ginger in anything, but I agree it’s especially good in a sticky cake ?