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Chocolate Honey Cake

(Note: This is a previous post coming to the forefront for the holidays.)

So, let's get one thing straight - I don't have a Jewish mother or grandmother. As a convert, I lack the fond memory of hating honey cake. Very soon after opening the bakery, I realize that I'm required to not only bake hundreds of pounds of honey cake, but I'm required to listen to how everyone hates it. "It's so dry!" Wow, reminds me of the joke with the punch line, "The food is so bad...and, the portions are so small!"

Sometimes Rosh Hashana falls out on very hot days of the year. One year in particular, after making a gazillion crown challahs, we are up all night making honey cakes. Back then, we have the oven where a rack is shoved in and spins while the product bakes. Opening the oven door, the blast of heat adds to the heat of the bakery and is unbearable. Exhausted and giddy, we jokingly rename the place, "Ye ol' Taste of Hell Bakery". Staying up all night to bake cakes that everyone will say they hate....until they taste mine, is worth the effort.

My recipe, small by commercial standards, makes 38 pounds of batter. Happily, I find the book I originally found the recipe in years ago. "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking" by Marcy Goldman is a precious gem. It came out in 1998, about the time I opened the bakery. I've never searched for another chocolate honey cake recipe. I don't think I even embellished her recipe. It is stand alone awesome.

That said, I bring a lot of finesse to the baking table. Every step is important, so much so that I rarely let anyone make the honey cakes. Over beat, under beat, spray the pans incorrectly, over-bake....the pitfalls are there if you aren't careful. Make this perfectly and the only comments you'll have to deal with are the ones about how chocolate honey cake isn't really a honey cake. Ha - what could be better than a sweet new year...a chocolate one!

Thanks Marcy for a great recipe....I feel like I owe you a fortune!

Kosher Status: Parve
Number of servings: 10" tube pan, 16 - 20 servings
Main Ingredient(s): Cocoa
Preparation Time: 00:20
Cooking Time: 00:50
Skill Level: 1 - Easy (1 Easy - 5 Hard)
Estimated POINT value:
Average Rating: 2.5/5


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup light honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup brewed strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup honey for brushing the top (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325'.

Remove the insert of the 10" tube pan and spray it well with non-stick spray. Do not spray the actual pan.

Place the pan on a piece of parchment paper and outline the circle. Cut it out and place it into the bottom of the tube pan. Then place the center insert into the pan. This will prevent any dripping out of the bottom.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk to blend. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the oil with the sugars, honey and vanilla.

Add the eggs one at a time and blend well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth, just a minute or so.

Add the coffee and carefully mix until smooth.

Place the batter into the pan. This recipe makes 1 x 10" tube pan or 2 x 7" tube pans.

You can also make the cake in a 9" x 13" pan. If you do, stand a couple of cake decorating nails upside down in the pan. This will serve as a heat conduit to get the center to cook evenly.

Bake the cake until the top, when pressed gently, just springs back. If the indentation stays, bake a few more minutes. This is key for baking a not dry honey cake! Do not overbake. Better underbaked.

When the cake is baked, remove from the oven and let sit about 10 minutes. Take a sharp paring knife and run it around the outer edge of the cake. Important, when running the knife around, listen for the scraping on the side of the pan. Otherwise, you'll be hacking away at the side of the cake :-(. Apply pressure to the bottom of the cake and pop it from the pan. Let rest a few minutes before trying to remove the center tube. You may need to gently slide a knife along the bottom of the pan. Cool on a wire rack.

For an added sheen, you may brush the top with honey before serving. Or, dust with powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

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ruth: i've got this in the oven right now. even though i watched the video and read the receipe before starting, i flubbed on when to add the sugars. i thought they would go in with the dry ingredients. hope i didn't just bake up a mess!
Leah: Hi Ruth, Not sure when you posted your comment but I can assume that the cake is out of the oven by now. How did it come out? My guess is just fine. Thanks for checking out the video and for using the website. Have a sweet new year!
Chana: I've been making Marcy Goldman's "other" honey cake (Moist and Majestic) for years, and I've never seen this chocolate honey cake. Thought I finished the baking for this year, but luckily there's still some time. Glad I saw this, and thank you.
ruth: hi leah, yes, it's out of the oven and in our tummies. this cake is much more than just good and also, apparently, goof proof! i made it on tuesday, froze it, and let it thaw in plastic wrap on the counter for a day. thanks for an excellent recipe and video. l'shanah tovah! ruth
Leah: My personal cake sits on the counter for day 3....bite by bite disappearing; still moist and yummy!
Kira: I made this cake a week ago for my book discussion group. We were reading The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman and this is one of the three cakes served at Jessamine and George's wedding in the book. I am not a big cake fan - they are usually too dry. However I had a piece of leftover cake this morning - a week later - and it is just as delicious and moist as it was right after I made it. I made it in a spring form pan with the tube insert and did not have to do the step with the parchment paper to prevent the dripping.
Leah: This is hilarious. I can't tell you how much I let sit in the kitchen and the crew eats it whenever; lemon bar edges, brownie edges, baklava edges.....Thanks for sharing your story!
talby: Leah, I made the chocolate honey cake tonight. The batter tasted amazing! I poured it into a 10" tube pan and baked it for 50 minutes at 325. It was still very liquidy and ended up baking it for another 10 min.. I pushed on it to see if it was done and it seemed fine. I took it out to cool and in a few minutes the entire center started to fall in!! What did I do wrong? I know my oven is not at fault as I've been doing all my other baking with no issues. I rechecked my ingredients and don't think I erred there. I was afraid to cook it longer than an hour because I didn't want to dry it out. DARN!
mindy: I baked the cake this evening and like talby wrote, the center caved in when I pushed on it. I followed the directions but did not watch the video. When I watched the video after the cake was finished I saw that Leah took turns combining the eggs and the dry ingredients. I didn't do that because it was not in the written instructions. I wonder if that mattered? Also, I researched why cakes fall and another possibility is old baking powder or soda. I might have mixed it too long, too. So, I'll slice the cake before serving and creatively plate it since it's still a really delicious dessert! Happy New Year!
Liz: My cake also sunk after I tapped the top:(
Leah: Okay, folks! I bake this cake in 5 different sizes. When is a cake done? Time is a rough estimate as ovens bake very differently. LOOK at the cake before you even move or touch it. If it looks wet, gently close the oven door and give it a few more minutes. If it is loose and wet - give it even more time. Once it looks stable, gently slide the rack out and look at point where the cake meets the pan. It should be shrinking away a bit; not a lot. With your finger, gently but firmly press on the highest point of the cake. It should spring back but 'feel' cooked through. Sometimes, I push and it springs back but it doesn't feel as setup as it could be. It is a fine line between done and overdone. Remember also, a person doesn't pick up a violin and play. Baking also takes practice. Things can "smell" done, "look" done and "feel" done. Don't be discouraged - you learn to bake one cake you can pretty much bake all cakes. Happy New Year! Leah
Leah: Oh, and regarding the mixing of the wet and dry ingredients. I made 80 pounds of chocolate honey cake the other day. I'm on auto-pilot so I had to think how I mixed it. I do alternate the dry ingredients with the coffee as I find I get a smoother batter. I don't think I've ever alternated flour with the eggs as someone writes above??? I have to make another 200 pounds so I'll pay more attention and see if I'm doing something I don't realize I'm doing.
Bobbi: It was amazing! I did have to cook it for quite a long time, however, ~75 minutes. Your directions did not give a bake time. At 50 minutes, the batter was still moving.
Leah: Yes, best to use the finger testing method - ovens are different and temperatures are too.
Paula: I baked this cake just for fun. I forgot to put in the oil, but even dry it was awesome!!! I'm baking it for my Sunday School class this week, but I would not forget the oil!
Leah: Hi Paula, Thanks for letting me know - probably a bit more moist with the oil! Good luck on the next round....and, time to make macaroons and flourless chocolate cakes :-).
Michele: Can this recipe be used in a bundt pan?
Leah: Hi Michele, Sure - just make sure you spray it well so it pops out easily.
Anne: Going to try this in small mini-loaf pans, for sharing with friends and neighbors. Have to guess at number of loaves per recipe, and at baking time.
Anne: First attempt - 1 batch in two 8"x4" pans -- was a disaster. Nicely baked on top, raw at the bottom. Let them cool completely, inverted in pans, and rebaked for 15". Now the bottoms were +/- done, but the tops stuck to the pans. What a mess! Tasty - hubby & I will enjoy - but not for sharing or gifting.
Leah: Hi Anne, We baked this again in 9" angel food pans, 7" angel food pans, 8" loaves and mini loaves. They were all fabulous, especially with the dark cocoa. What could you have done incorrectly? "Baking" is heat from the bottom - not sure how you can get tops baked without the bottom baking - usually, it's the middle that is unbaked if not left in the oven long enough. It's a fabulous recipe - might want to give it a try again.

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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.

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