Honey Walnut Cake

This honey walnut cake is a loving tribute to Maria Helm Sinskey’s Alsatian mother, and the honey so beloved in her home. Toasted walnuts, walnut flour, orange zest, and lots of honey give this cake a tender crumb and delicate flavor.

A gray plate with a slice of honey walnut cake, raspberries, blackberries, whipped cream, and a spoon, all sprinkled with icing sugar.

Nothing expresses a region’s character more than a spoonful of wildflower honey. The flavor varies depending on what flowers are indigenous to the area. A hive full of bees did a lot of hard work only to have their cache robbed, so every spoonful consumed should be appreciated. Alsatians are fiercely proud of their honey. It shows up in their cakes and pastries and gets drizzled on cheese. –Maria Helm Sinskey

WHAT MAKES WILDFLOWER HONEY DIFFERENT?

The most common honey is clover, with wildflower coming pretty far behind. The reason? Clover honey tastes mild and honey-like, so people know what to expect. It’s basic honey–lovely and almost always the same. Wildflower honey comes from bees that visit various wildflowers, rather than clover. The floral taste of wildflower honey can range from mild to quite noticeable, depending on the time of year, the location of the beehive, the pollen collected, and the number of bees working in the hives.

This recipe can be made with clover honey but the use of wildflower honey will come through and accentuate the orange and walnut flavors.

Honey Walnut Cake

A gray plate with a slice of honey walnut cake, raspberries, blackberries, whipped cream, and a spoon, all sprinkled with icing sugar.
My Strasbourg-born grandmother would combine honey and walnuts in the fall to produce a cake similar to this one. It's delicate and moist and carries the scent of honey, orange peel, and walnuts. Serve it unadorned or with softly whipped cream.
Maria Helm Sinskey

Prep 20 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins
Dessert
American
8 to 10 servings
484 kcal
5 / 4 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces plus more walnut halves for garnish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
  • Spread the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Dump onto a plate to cool slightly. Rub the nuts in a towel to remove the loose skins.
  • Grind the nuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the flour until very fine. In a medium bowl, combine the ground nuts, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter with the honey and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the orange zest and vanilla. Add it in thirds to the butter mixture. Beat well to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, toast about 10 walnut halves on a sheet pan for 8 minutes. While they are still warm rub the nuts in a towel to remove the excess skin and place them in a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of honey and stir until the walnuts are coated. Reserve the walnut halves at room temperature to garnish the cake when it is finished.
  • Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a cake rack to cool. Garnish the edge of the cake with the walnut halves before slicing it into wedges.
Print RecipeBuy the The Vineyard Kitchen cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 484kcal (24%)Carbohydrates: 44g (15%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 33g (51%)Saturated Fat: 13g (81%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 115mg (38%)Sodium: 104mg (5%)Potassium: 235mg (7%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 29g (32%)Vitamin A: 631IU (13%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 74mg (7%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This cake is not overly sweet, perfect for when you want dessert but not something too sugary. It’s even in the category of not-too-sweet that allows it to be consumed for breakfast without judgment. I loved the flavor of the walnuts and how the orange zest enhanced the other flavors without making it a definitive orange cake. It had a texture that reminded me almost of a soft cornbread—a thin, slightly crisp outer crust with a moist and tender crumb inside.

Oh my. This cake was so simple to make and truly was delectable. If you love baklava, this is the cake version of that traditional dessert. Each and every bite of this cake oozes with honey flavor and has the moistest crumb. The finishing touch of honey-coated toasted walnuts really tops everything off wonderfully! I also served this cake with a dollop of cinnamon-scented whipped cream.

I adore the idea of making a toasted walnut flour for the base of the cake; I wonder if you subbed in gluten-free flour for the AP flour, if this would still have the same moist crumb but be a gluten-free version of the cake? My cake was perfectly cooked at 30 minutes in a 350ºF oven, so my only suggestion is to check the cake a touch earlier than stated just in case your oven runs on the warmer side.

This cake is absolutely divine. The combination of walnuts, honey, and orange peel mingle together making this moist cake spectacular. Whether you serve it with or without whipped cream, it’s sure to satisfy.

Originally published July 15, 2003

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Comments

  1. Hi, my husband loves Honey Cake for Rosh Hoshanna, but I’ve only made it as a loaf. Can this recipe be made in a loaf pan? Extra baking time would be necessary to be sure.

    1. Terri, we haven’t tried it in a loaf pan, but I think it would work. If you use a 9-by 5-inch loaf pan it should accommodate the batter, but you will need to give it a little extra cooking time. Use a tester to be sure that it’s cooked all the way through.

    1. Alene, we haven’t tried this with gluten-free flour, but if any of our readers have, please let us know. If you do try it with gluten-free flour, do let us know how it turns out.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this cake a couple of times. It came out really nice. I found that with my oven I have to take it out at 30 minutes and then cover with foil for 10-15 minutes more, and it turned out really yummy. A big hit with the kids.

    1. Thanks, Amar! We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us, and great tip on the foil cover.

  3. 5 stars
    I just made this, with pistachios instead of walnuts, and roasted figs. I was looking for a basic recipe that I could tweak. It came out so good! Thanks.

  4. 5 stars
    I used the honey walnut cake recipe for a Memorial Day cookout and it was such a hit I had to make a second one for us to snack on at home! It’s so light that it is perfect to squeeze in after a large meal or even for breakfast. We had a scoop of vanilla ice cream with ours and it was just the right amount of sweet!

    Honey Walnut Cake Recipe

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