Portuguese Honey Cake

Monday 26 July 2021

Portuguese Honey Cake 

I love cake. It is a weakness of mine. I try to always have some sort of cake in the house, preferably homemade.  Perhaps that is why I look the way I do.  😁 

Be that as it may, I am a happy person, and cake is one of my little joys in life.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
This recipe for Portuguese Honey Cake is one I adapted from The Redpath Canadian Bake Book, by Redpath Sugar.  It is filled with over 200 recipes for cakes, cookies, breads, pies, etc.  I love it!

But then again, I love to bake.  I had never considered myself to be much of a baker, but I have come to realize late in life that I am.  If I was a much younger woman, I would probably study the art of patisserie and baking, but I am a bit too long in the tooth now.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
The original Portuguese Honey Cake comes from the Island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal.  I have never been there myself, but it was on my bucket list at one time.

Madeira is one of two autonomous regions of Portugal, the other one being the Azores.  It is known for its fortified wine, beautiful seafood and this delicious cake, which you will find there baked into much smaller cakes that are traditionally broken not cut.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
This cake has a beautiful unique flavor, owing to the use of honey, as well as lemon, cinnamon and olive oil, and by that I mean extra virgin olive oil.

Normally in a cake you wouldn't use the assertive flavor of an extra virgin olive oil, but here it totally works.  You will see evo used in a lot of cakes in this region and the Mediterranean. 

Portuguese Honey Cake

It has a lovely dense texture and yet at the same time it is very light.  I found it to be really lovely. 

You will want to use a honey in this with a beautiful flavor.  Redpath suggests a honey with a floral bouquet and flavor.  Something like a clover  or a wildflower honey would be good.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
And yet, now having tasted this delicious cake, I find myself wondering how it would taste if I were to make it using Greek Honey. 

Greek honey is considered to be some of the finest honey in the world. I adore it personally. It almost as a bit of an anise flavor to it.   The darker the honey, the more like anise it tastes.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
I think the flavor of it would go very well with the lemon in this cake, as well as the cinnamon.  

I used Dori Greenspan's technique of rubbing lemon zest into sugar when baking.  This really helps to bring out the natural oils of the lemon and makes for a very fragrant combination.

Portuguese Honey Cake 

I used to belong to a baking group that was baking its way through Dori's book, Baking From My Home to Yours.  Each week we would bake, ensemble, a recipe from the book.

It was great fun and I have to say I made a few really great friends from the group, some of whom I am still friends with today.  I am pretty sure that is how Monique (La Table de Nana) and I discovered each other!

Portuguese Honey Cake 
So anyways, I have been doing that with my citrus zests ever since. It does make a difference in the end result, I have to say. I highly recommend you try it at least once.

You would think that with such assertive flavors in a cake, they might overwhelm each other, but they simply don't

Portuguese Honey Cake 
They work beautifully well with each other . . .  with no one flavor dominating.  

With each bite of cake you get the essence of the honey, a bit of citrus and the hint of cinnamon, not forgetting the richness of the olive oil.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
It also smells really wonderful when it is baking. Open your doors so that the whole neighborhood also gets to enjoy it! 

I sent half of the cake over to a friend that I had prepared a meal for.  I have not heard what they thought of it, but I am sure it went over well.

Portuguese Honey Cake 
The flaked almonds on top add a lovely look and crunch to this cake. I do so love a cake topped with almonds, don't you?

I didn't bother to toast these first as they are only sprinkled on top of the cake and I knew they would get a nice toasting in the heat of the oven.

Portuguese Honey Cake 

This cake seems to become even more delicious as the days pass.  I just had a piece (three days later) and it was even nicer than it was on the first day.

I have been tempted to toast it, and spread it with butter . . .  glutton that I am.

Portuguese Honey Cake

This is a cake that is perfect for the tea table, served with a hot cuppa, or with coffee for breakfast.  It would make a lovely dessert served with fresh berries.

If you are a drinker, you may want to serve it thinly sliced along with a small shot of madeira wine or sweet sherry.

Or, if you are like me, you will just want to enjoy it any time with any thing!  Fact being, you WILL enjoy it!!  I am so happy it tempted me into doing just that!

Portuguese Honey Cake

Portuguese Honey Cake

Yield: 0ne (8 by 4-inch) loaf, 10 servings
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 35 MinTotal time: 55 Min
Make sure you use a really nice flavored honey for this moist and delicious cake!


  • 1 1/4 cups (175g) plain all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (160g) fine granulated sugar (caster sugar)
  • the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 large free-range eggs, divided
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) liquid honey
  • 1 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 TBS flaked almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F/ 180*C/ gas mark 3.  Butter an 8 by 4-inch loaf tin.  Dust lightly with flour, shaking out any excess.  Set aside. (Alternately you may line the tin with baking parchment. I like to leave an overhang to lift the baked cake out with.)
  2. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Measure the sugar into a bowl.  Add the lemon zest and rub it together until very fragrant.  Add the egg yolks and beat the sugar and egg yolks together for three minutes at high speed.  Add the honey and the lemon juice and beat for a further minute.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture, alternately with the olive oil, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until there are only a few streaks of flour.
  5. Using clean beaters, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.  Fold half of the egg white mixture into the batter.  Fold the remaining egg white mixture in until just combined.  Don't over mix, a few white streaks should remain. 
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Tap the loaf tin lightly on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles, then sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top of the cake. 
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until risen and golden brown.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  If you think your cake is getting too brown, cover the pan loosely with foil.
  8. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before tipping the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely (Upright). (If you have used baking paper, you should just be able to lift it out.) 
  9. Cut into slices to serve, using a serrated knife.
  10. Store any leftover cake in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


This cake can also be baked in an 8-inch Bundt pan. Butter the pan really well and dust with flour, shaking out any excess flour. Mix and bake as above. Let cool in the pan for five minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen and tip out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

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Portuguese Honey Cake
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  1. Can I say how much I love that plate! It's so vibrant and colourful and makes me happy just looking at it.

    The cake sounds really lovely. I've not made a cake like this before, but do like the sound of honey and lemon. I'm also a little intrigued by the use of a strong flavoured oil. I'd tend to use neutral oils in things like carrot and zucchini cakes, but will have to trust that this works. I'll pencil it in to try out later in the week.

    1. Amazon for the plate Marie. I bought it last winter when I was still at my sisters. Wishful thinking that I would soon have a place for it to call home! This is a really nice cake Marie, sort of between a bread and a cake if that makes sense. The olive oil intrigued me also as, like you, I have always used a neutral oil for cakes and such things. I hope you enjoy it! xoxo

  2. EJ recently returned from his mission I. Portugal. I will have to make him this cake . I’m sending you hugs. I keep you in my heart and in my prayers. Hugs 🤗 Lura

  3. I've made this cake twice and it is so tasty! However, it is concave & mushy in the center, while the ends are cooked through and retained the proper shape. Any advice?

    1. It sounds like your oven if running a bit hot and that the outer edges of your cake are baking faster than the center. The only way to know for sure how hot your oven runs is to test it with an oven-proof heat thermometer. If you're having trouble with your cakes, I recommend investing in one of these thermometers (they can be purchased inexpensively). You may discover that the dials on your oven don't quite match the actual temperature inside.

      Cakes bake from the edges inward, so the middle is the last part to cook. This is why it's possible to have a cake that's burnt on the edges and undercooked in the middle, a result that is due mainly to the temperature of the oven.

      Before taking your cake out of the oven, always check that it is fully baked. Don't just go by its visual appearance, although if the cake is pale and you can see the middle wobbling, you can go ahead and assume it isn't ready.

      To check that it is cooked, insert a toothpick, skewer, or cake tester into the deepest part of the cake at the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, i.e., no batter sticks to it, the cake is cooked. On the other hand, if the toothpick comes out with batter still clinging to it, the cake needs to stay in the oven longer.

      If the cake needs more time in the oven, but the outside of the cake looks like it is in danger of burning, turn the oven down by at least 70*F/20*C. There will be enough heat to cook the cake, but it should prevent any further coloration.

      I hope that this helps!


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