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Hawaij Honey Cake with Labneh Frosting

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

If you are lucky enough to own a copy of Millennial Kosher, chances are you are one of hundreds who has made my hawaij garlic confit a staple on their Shabbos table. I for one can not get through the weekend without the intoxicating smell of hawaij wafting through my home. And my challah can’t live without dipping into the fragrant oily dip.

I’m proud to have introduced so many people to one of my favorite spice blends – a Yemenite curry that is famous for it’s use in chicken soup. What many don’t know, however, is that there is also a sweet version of hawaij, traditionally used for coffee. Since many honey cakes incorporate coffee into the batter, I figured that spicing up the cake with some hawaij for coffee was the perfect way to introduce the sweet side of the Yemenite spice.

Besides for the fragrant spice blend, I also incorporated one of my favorite Israeli ingredients – silan or date honey. It’s interesting to note that when the Torah speaks of Israel being the “Land that flows with milk and honey”, it is actually referring to date honey. There is nothing quite like dates from the shuk in Israel, and silan has become a much-loved ingredient in my house. It works both in sweet and savory applications (try it over pargiot!) and it’s delicious when paired with tahini.

Now lets talk about the other unique component of this amazing recipe – the frosting! If you’d never tried making labneh before, it’s so much easier than it seems! Labneh is the Israeli cream cheese – light and creamy with a healthy dose of tang. I’m personally not a fan of classic American cream cheese, so it’s all about the labneh for me!

Labneh is extremely versatile – it can be rolled into balls and marinated in olive oil with different spices, drizzled with some olive oil and za’atar for dipping pita, or made into a sweet frosting with some added hawaij to perfectly compliment this breakfast loaf!

I am totally obsessed over how this recipe came together! The cake is crazy moist, nothing like that dry honey cake we all dread. The hawaij adds just enough spice, but nothing over the top, and the creamy frosting adds a nice tang to balance out the sweetness of the cake.

My favorite part about this cake though, was decorating it!! I had a vision for incorporating my favorite seasonal fruit – figs – and I just love how it came out! Feel free to play around with fresh pomegranate, honeycomb, cinnamon sticks and other fun toppings to make the cake your own.

I always say I’m not a baker, but this recipe helped me realize that even though I don’t like the science of baking, there is still so much room for creativity and if I can get around the technicalities, I can create a masterpiece.

Here’s to a New Year of trying new things, delicious eats and sweetness all around!

This post was sponsored by Norman’s. All opinions are my own. 

Related Recipes:

parsnip honey cake with cream cheese frosting
honey cake with caramelized apples
bourbon honey cake balls

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Parsnip Honey Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting & Rainbow Carrot Chips

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I’m not a baker. Let me start with that. Sure I can follow a cake recipe. And I’ve even made the occasional Elmo and Barbie cake for my kids birthdays. But I don’t “bake”. Especially not cakes like THIS.

I don’t know what it is. The whole layering thing. And the frosting. It’s just such a MESS. Case in point: I decided to defy all logic and attempted to layer my cakes without trimming them first, so that they were flat. Of course the layers started slipping and sliding, so I had to separate them, post-frosting and then do the trimming. Mess is not the word. My kids were pretty happy though. They got to enjoy the best part of the honey cake (the sticky top layer), all smothered in frosting.

Now since this IS a honey cake, trimming the best part off the layers is such a sin. So I highly recommend you follow this technique so that the layers bake flat. Wish I had followed my own advice but I just get lazy when it comes to baking.


Case #2 in point, I let my frosting sit out after whipping it, and it got kinda warm and runny, but instead of refrigerating it so that it would hold up nicely, I just wanted to stack the cake already. THIS is why I don’t bake. No patience. Baking is all about precision, patience and organization, and while I do possess those qualities, baking does not exactly bring them out in me. Maybe it’s because I just want to get it done so I can dig in to the cake already!

So why this cake? Well, I came up with this crazy cool concept of doing a carrot cake/honey cake hybrid. And if that wasn’t enough, I had to switch up the carrots for parsnips, and take it over the top with FRIED RAINBOW CARROTS STRIPS. It’s go big or go home. Especially if I am about to make a layered cake!

I developed this recipe in honor of Rosh Hashanah, when it is traditional to eat honey cake, for a Sweet New Year. Since many people have a custom not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, I knew I couldn’t garnish my cake with chopped pecans, which would have been my first choice. Shredded coconut is another great option but I wanted a little hint to the surprise inside the cake – the parsnips!

Honestly, I can’t say this cake tastes like parsnips. It tastes like honey cake. But when you get a couple of shreds of parsnip in your mouth, you get a little hint of flavor. If you want more of a parsnip flavor, add some more shredded parsnips to the cake. It’s as simple as that :)

I honestly could not be happier about the way this cake came out. I totally winged the recipe, and not understanding the science of baking, it could have been a complete flop. I was almost not expecting the cake to work but it came out so unbelievably moist! And my kids kept running downstairs wanting to know what smelled so INCREDIBLE.


I KNOW this cake is good for one reason and one reason only. The world’s most pickiest taste testers LOVED IT. My kids gobbled up the cake, licked their fingers, and said OH MY G-D between fork fulls. I kid you not. This is a home run. Kid tested. Mother approved.

Related Recipes:

honey cake with caramelized apples
carrot muffins
couscous with thyme, honey roasted parsnips, carrots & beets
pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting

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Honey Cake with Caramelized Apples

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Trust me. This.is.the.best.honey.cake.you.will.ever.eat.

I could just let the picture do all the talking, or, I can tell you why.

Did you ever taste the classic Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe? You know the one that is super moist and decadent? Almost fudgy? You know how no matter how many chocolate cakes you make, they can never measure up to that recipe? Well let me tell you a little secret. If you look at the recipe, you’ll see that it calls for a cup of boiling water to be stirred in at the very end. That water makes the cake almost pudding-like. It becomes super moist and incredibly delicious.

Why am I talking about Hershey’s chocolate cake in my honey cake post? Well…When my sister sent me this recipe last year, I thought I already had the best honey cake recipe. But when I saw the addition of boiling water at the end, it had me intrigued. It turns out that this is now my best honey cake recipe. And it will be yours too.

A few years ago, I made Martha Stewart’s honey cake with caramelized pears. The pears made for a beautiful presentation. But let me be honest. This honey cake is way better! I decided to take a cue from the queen of domesticity and top it off with caramelized apples, in lieu of pears, for that “apple dipped in honey” finish. Drizzle some more honey over the top and you’ll be in honey heaven! Talk about a sweet new year!

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