26 December 2023

And the best honey cake (smitten kitchen from Marcy Goldman) with high altitude information

Smitten Kitchen's Honey Cake

As usual, I will copy the recipe in case the link goes dead.

  • 3 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (445 grams) all-purpose flour (see Note)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder (see Note) I cut this back to 1 tsp for altitude
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (see Note)
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup (200 grams) vegetable or another neutral oil
  • 1 cup (320 grams) honey
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar- at altitude only 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (235 grams) warm coffee or strong tea (I use decaf)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) fresh orange juice, apple cider, or apple juice- I have done grapefruit as well and it is amazing. Fresh squeezed juice of any kind is the best
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) rye or whiskey, or additional juice
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) slivered or sliced almonds (optional) I never use these
  • Pan size options: This cake fits in two (shown here) or three loaf pans; two 8-inch square or two 9-inch round cake pans; one 9- or 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan; or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake.
  • Prepare pans: Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. Additionally, I like to line the bottom and sides of loaf pans with parchment paper for easier removal. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, cut to fit.
  • Heat oven: To 350°F.

    Make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, granulated sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, juice, and rye. [If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.]

    Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a well-blended batter, making sure that no pockets of ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

    Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (which helps the cakes bake evenly and makes it easier to rotate them on the oven rack).

    Bake the cake(s): Until a tester inserted into a few parts of the cake comes out batter-free, about 40 to 45 minutes for a round, square, or rectangle cake pan; about 45 to 55 minutes for 3 loaf pans; 55 to 65 minutes for 2 loaf pans (as shown), and 60 to 75 minutes for tube pans.

    Cool cake: On a rack for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. However, I usually leave the loaves in the pan until needed, as they’re unlikely to get stuck.

    Do ahead: This cake is fantastic on day one but phenomenal on days two through four. I keep the cake at room temperature covered tightly with foil or plastic wrap. If I want to bake the cakes more than 4 days out, I’ll keep them in the fridge after the first 2 days. If you’d like to bake them more than a week in advance, I recommend that you freeze them, tightly wrapped, until needed. Defrost at room temperature for a few hours before serving.


  • Size: These days, I bake this cake in two filled-out loaves, as shown, instead of 3 more squat ones. My loaf pans hold 6 liquid cups; they’re 8×4 inches on the bottom and 9×5 inches on the top; if yours are smaller, it might be best to bake some batter off as muffins, or simply use the 3-loaf option. I use a large Bundt pan and the extra liquid goes in a mini loaf
  • Flour: After mis-measuring the flour many years ago and baking the cake with 2 tablespoons less flour and finding it even more plush and moist, I’ve never gone back. The recipe now reflects the lower amount.
  • Baking powder: The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of baking powder, but I found that this large amount caused the cake to sink. From 2011 through 2023, I recommended using 1 teaspoon instead. But, after extensive testing this year, I’ve found that a higher amount — 1 3/4 teaspoons — keeps this cake perfectly domed every time, and even more reliably than the 1-teaspoon level.
  • Salt: The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon but I prefer 1 teaspoon.
  • Liquids: This is address the question that comes up in at least 30% of the 1115 comments to date: “What can I use instead of whiskey?” and/or “What can I use instead of coffee?” The original trifecta of liquids in this cake [coffee, orange juice, and whiskey] is unusual and wonderful together, and I still think the perfect flavor for this cake. But if you want to omit the whiskey, simply use more orange juice or coffee. If you want to omit the coffee, simply use tea. If you don’t want to use tea, use more juice. If you don’t want to use orange juice, my second choice liquid here would be apple cider (the fresh, not the fermented, kind), followed by apple juice. Apples and honey: It’s a whole thing!
  • Sweetness: The recipe looks like it would taste assaulting sweet but you must trust me when I say it doesn’t. But, if you reduce the sugar, any one of them, you will have a cake that’s more dry. You can still dial it back, but do understand what the adjustment can do to the recipe.

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