Holidays and Entertaining/ Jewish New Year/ Vegan Recipes

Just-as-Sweet-as-Honey Cake

vegan honey cake

Ashkenazi Jews consider honey cake to be an integral part of their New Year celebration. In this recipe, a combination of agave nectar and maple syrup add up to make a vegan honey cake that’s practically indistinguishable from the classic version. Adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Photos by Susan Voisin.

Just-as-Sweet-as-Honey Cake

Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices each


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup dark agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • sliced almonds for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until completely blended.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the oil, agave, syrup, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir together until the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined, then stir in the raisins.
  4. Cut two pieces of baking parchment to fit the bottoms of two standard loaf pans (9 by 5 by 3-inch). Lightly oil the sides. Divide the batter among the two loaf pans. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the tops of the loaves.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf tests clean. Take care not to overbake.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool completely. Use a knife to go around the sides of the loaves to loosen if need be, then carefully remove the loaves from the pans by tipping them into your hand, then setting on a platter. Cut each loaf into 12 slices to serve.

vegan honey cake

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  • Reply
    September 16, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    My mother’s non-vegan recipe includes coffee, and I’m trying to figure a way to maintain that part of the flavor. Do you have any suggestions for how to work coffee onto this recipe?

    • Reply
      September 16, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Leah — I worry that putting liquid coffee in would make the batter too watery, so what I would do would be to combine about a tablespoon of organic instant coffee in just enough water to dissolve it — to make more of a syrup than a liquid — and just mix that it with the wet ingredients. Great idea, to add a coffee flavor; I hope this works for you!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm


    I am a honey eating vegan. Do you think I could substitute the agave and maple syrup with honey?


    • Reply
      September 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Of course, Anna. It would be a one-to-one swap. Happy holiday!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I made this AMAZING recipe this morning. One loaf is gone, and the other is heavily disguised in foil and a Ziplock bag. I’m the only vegan in the house, yet this honey cake wins hands down #1. Thanks so much for sharing these tasty vegan options.

    • Reply
      September 23, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment, Donna — so glad you’re enjoying this; and happy holiday!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I have all the ingredients on hand except vanilla. Do you think it would still be as good without it?

    • Reply
      September 24, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Vanilla adds a nice scent, but in the amount it’s used, it won’t make a significant difference to the taste or texture. Go for it, and I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    September 12, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Hello!…Can i use a bundt pan mold for the vegan honey cake?…

  • Reply
    Randi Burton
    September 13, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I made this honey cake 1/2 the recipe. I added about 1/3 cup of brewed coffee. The flavor was fabulous when done. I did feel the texture was slightly dry, so I would either add a little more applesauce or oil the next time. I just tried it today and was a great first attempt and very easy to make.

    • Reply
      September 14, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Hi Randi — sorry you found the cake a bit dry; I’ll check things out next time I make it. Your solutions are both on point. It’s also important not to leave it in the oven a moment longer than necessary — the minute a knife tests clean, out it comes!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2016 at 1:39 am

    Could Silan (date honey) be used instead of agave or maple?

    • Reply
      October 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

      My guess is that it would work just fine, Ellen.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Could you make this with almond flour instead for a gluten free vegan version? Or maybe Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking flour mix? I’m a gluten free vegan and this sounds like a great recipe!

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