Hawaiian Honey Cake Recipe for Rosh Hashanah or to Celebrate the Autumn Harvest.

The Start of a New Year

Posted by Sharona Lomberg on

rosh hashanah honey cake

In many cultures around the world, the early fall is celebrated as a conclusion of a
fruitful harvest. It is a time for thanks, rest, festivities and a time to start anew. In
Judaism, it is marked by the holiday called Rosh Hashanah; in Hawaiian culture it is
called the Makahiki.

The eating of honey during Rosh Hashanah is symbolic of our wish for a sweet new

year. Honey is eaten in a variety of ways during the holiday. Traditionally, honey
cakes were made in the shape of a circle to indicate the yearly cycle and the
continuity of life.

At Big Island Bees we are busy harvesting the Organic Wilelaiki honey during the
month of September. The Wilelaiki tree is also known as a Brazilian Pepper tree.
The tree is familiarly known as Christmas berry. I assume this is because of the
bright red peppercorns that adorn the tree during the winter months.

The Wilelaiki honey has a beautiful orange color and a slightly peppery finish, which
lends itself very well to the traditional honey spice cake baked for Rosh Hashanah.
Wilelaiki is my favorite honey. It has a unique flavor and is extremely versatile. Try
it drizzled on Monchego cheese paired with a glass of bold Cabernet Sauvignon. I
bake with it and use it in garlicky marinades and mustard-laced salad dressings.
Wilelaiki goes well in both sweet and savory dishes.

This honey is certified organic and is harvested in the remote areas in both the Kau
and Kohala areas of the Big Island.

Moist and Delicious Hawaiian Honey Cake Recipe for Rosh Hashannah or to Celebrate the Autumn Harvest.

Yield: one large bundt cake


  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup freshly brewed Kona coffee (strong)
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 17 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing pan
  • 1 3/4 cups Wilelaiki honey, divided
  • 3/4 cup apple cider ( I used the spiced variety by Knudsen)
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dried currents
  • 1/2 cup chopped lightly roasted Macadamia nuts


  • 4 bowls,: 2 medium sized, 2 large sized
  • Electric mixer
  • Bundt pan


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350F. Spray or brush bundt pan very well with oil.
  2. In bowl #1(large), combine all the spices and then stir in hot coffee. Set aside to cool.
  3. In bowl #2 (medium), rub orange zest into granulated sugar until zest is well blended into sugar. Add brown sugar and stir to combine.
  4. In bowl #3 (medium sized), whisk flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together.
  5. In bowl #1 add 1 ¼ cup of Wilelaiki honey, 1 cup of oil, cider and bourbon into the coffee mixture and mix until blended about 1 minute.
  6. In Bowl #4 (large), beat eggs and sugar mixture together with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined about 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to low, then add honey mixture and mix until blended about 1 minute.
  8. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  9. Fold into batter the currents and Macadamia nuts
  10. Pour batter into prepared pan (don’t worry, the batter will be thin) and bake about an hour or until testing stick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  11. Transfer to a rack and let cake cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Invert directly onto rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).
  12. Warm remaining ½ cup of honey in saucepan then brush the honey onto the sides of cake. Drizzle the remaining honey over cake. Serve.
Wrapped tightly this cake will remain good for at least a week.


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