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Honey Cake with Caramelized Pears


This moist cake -- inspired by the Rosh Hashanah traditions of eating honey cake and honey-dipped fruit to represent hope for a sweet year ahead -- is made luscious with a warm topping of pears in a honey syrup. A generous dollop of cold whipped cream is the perfect complement.

  • Yield: Makes one 10-inch cake

Photography: Charles Schiller

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 2004


  • Unsalted butter, softened, for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons best-quality honey
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Caramelized Pears
  • Freshly whipped cream, or nondairy whipped topping, for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside. Mix eggs and sugars on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 3 minutes.

  2. Whisk together honey, milk, oil, and zest. With mixer on low, add honey mixture to egg mixture; mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add half the flour mixture; mix until smooth. Mix in remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into pan.

  3. Bake until dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of cake; carefully remove sides of pan.Transfer cake to a platter. Top with pears. Serve with whipped cream or topping, if desired.

Cook's Notes

If you keep kosher and would like to make dairy-free versions of these recipes, substitute margarine for the butter, and soy milk for the regular milk. The cake can be made (without the pears) one day ahead, and stored in plastic wrap at room temperature.

Reviews Add a comment

  • irishemily1
    10 FEB, 2012
    While this might be a delicious cake, this recipe should not be tagged gluten and dairy free...there are both flour and milk in this recipe! Shame on you Martha!!!
  • Juliette1001
    18 DEC, 2010
    I replaced the pears with green apples because I never did care match for pears. It came out delicious. I love how the sweetness from the apple compliments the not too sweet cake. Whip cream was the right finishing touch. pulled the whole cake together.
  • jvanderlinde
    18 NOV, 2010
    I made this for my family during thanksgiving, and it was amazing!!! so moist, and perfect sweetness from the pears:) we ate it with vanilla ice cream which just melted in your mouth along with ever bite!! but you could also use whipped cream:)
  • MaxsMom09
    10 SEP, 2010
    I baked this for a neighbor and she loved it!!! My only suggestion is that since the batter is thin, butter the springform pan and line with parchment paper so that it comes up to about 1/4" from the bottom of the pan. Some of the batter leaked at the rim's base and I had to put a baking sheet under the pan. I had trouble finding Red Anjou pears - not sure when they are in season. If you use a regular Anjou Pear, may want to slice the pears on a mandonlin.