Just-as-Sweet-as-Honey Cake

vegan honey cake

Ashkenazi Jews consider honey cake to be an integral part of their New Year celebration. Here, a combination of agave nectar and maples 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.

Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices each

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon 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 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Sliced almonds for topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until completely blended.

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.

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.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf tests clean. Take care not to overbake.

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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14 comments on “Just-as-Sweet-as-Honey Cake

  1. Leah

    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?

  2. Nava Post author

    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!

  3. Anna


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


  4. Donna

    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.

  5. Nava Post author

    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!

  6. Randi Burton

    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.

  7. Nava Post author

    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!

  8. Allie

    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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