A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Reliving my love/hate relationship with honey cake (with bonus recipe)

As the Chief Digital Content Officer at the Jewish Light part of my job is to keep an eye on digital trends. One thing I noticed over the last 72 hours was a surge in traffic to a story I wrote a year ago. The reason for the surge was clear to me. People around the world were using their Google machines to search for recipes for honey cake. Instead of my grandmother’s recipe, they found my article.

How I began the article

I opened with:

“Honey cake is the sweet baked treat many Jews eat on Rosh Hashanah to bring in a sweet Jewish New Year. For many, the cake has come to be a symbol. As children, the smells and flavors that emanated from the kitchens of our families are now memories that connect our present with our past, especially around the time of a holiday such as Rosh Hashanah.”

I then tried to pull on your heartstrings by quoting a Jewish Light reader who had such fond memories of his grandmother making honey cake while he played on the kitchen floor. I added in some very descriptive words to enhance the feeling of remembrance of your past, and as the reader, you were hooked.


“I myself can imagine little Keith playing on his grandmother’s kitchen floor. The image is right out of a movie. And I love that this nostalgic feeling helps define what growing up Jewish really means.”

I then continued to build my point by mentioning how a new cookbook “Honey Cake & Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors” had just come out. I then literally made my point:

“The point here is that honey cake is very, very important to a lot of people.”

And then, I flipped the article all around:

“But admittedly and I say this with just a tad bit of apprehension, I don’t like honey cake.”

(The following is the rest of the article, and bonus honey cake recipe just for reading.) 

Where I went wrong with honey cake

You see, my grandmother, my “Mama” used to make honey cake every New Year and I remember secretly not really liking it. It would show up each year on her nice china, with the proper fork and while everyone else was attacking their dessert, I was crumbling it up and feeding Moishe the dog under the table. Now, allowing for the possibility that I may be misremembering, I reached out to my mother via text to confirm that what I remember was indeed honey cake:

Now, I’m sure we did eat it anyway. It was cake after all, and you didn’t want to disappoint Mama. But isn’t it interesting that just because something is a “tradition” it doesn’t necessarily make it a “good” tradition? And, guess what? I’m not alone. More on that in a moment.

Love for honey cake

Because I know I could be wrong about anything, I went in search of love for this “delectable delight” by asking readers if honey cake was a tradition in their lives.

Jodie Bertish, otherwise known as the “Jewish Strudel Lady” owns The Delectable Dough Baking Company. She makes a mean honey cake herself.  She says she is thankful for all the special traditions she’s experienced over the years.

“Rosh Hashanah has always been one of my favorite holidays. Celebrating and visiting with family is definitely the most important part of the holiday, however, who cannot be grateful for the special meals that we have enjoyed and continue to bring to our tables today,” said Bertish. “I didn’t really acquire a taste for honey cake until later in life after I tried and tweaked many recipes and finally came up with a moist, sweet cake that is not too overbearing with spices, for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

Photo by: Jodie Bertish

Even within the halls of the Jewish Light office itself, the honey cake is adored.

“I’m a honey cake lover. I think it’s one of the best parts of Rosh Hashanah and every year I end up with a few of them that others ‘donate’ to me. They are under-appreciated…like me. #honeycakesforever,” said Angie Rosenberg, Jewish Light senior sales executive.

No love for honey cake

As I was developing the idea of writing about honey cake, I never thought I’d reveal my true feelings on this issue. But, then I got this:

There are two of us? How could this be? I then reached out to a few of the local bakers in town, who like Jodie Bertish, all make fantastic baked goods, including honey cake, and I got this:

This was sent to me by Alana Umansky, who is part of the mother-daughter baking team that is Just like Mom’s bakery, which offers a wide selection of made-to-order homemade baked goods including honey cake.

Bonus: Honey Cake with Lemon Drizzle
By Rachel Grossbaum

This recipe freezes well and can be made in advance, if you want to get a headstart on your Rosh Hashanah baking. Just make and add the glaze later, after defrosting.

Cake Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 7/8 cup oil
  • 1 tbsp. coffee dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Cake Directions

  1. Mix the eggs, sugar, honey and coffee.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth.
  3. Spray two 8 inch round pans, or one 9″x13″ pan with non-stick spray.
  4. Pour the batter in, and bake at 350°F/180°C for 45 minutes.


For the Lemon Glaze

  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Mix until smooth. When the cake has cooled completely, drizzle with glaze.

Recipe by Rachel Grossbaum. Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org/Food, Chabad.org’s kosher cooking site—where you can find many more Rosh Hashanah recipes. 

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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.