Honey cake with orange buttercream

Honey cake with orange buttercream

Scandinavian Baking
Columbus Leth

Honey was used for baking before sugar became widely available in northern Europe. This type of honey cake has been part of the Scandinavian tradition for the last 200 years. The most famous are those from Christiansfeld, a small town in Denmark, where they still bake the honey cakes and hearts covered in chocolate that carry the town’s name. For me this is a real winter treat. I love to eat it in the afternoon with a strong cup of tea. If you leave out the buttercream you can eat it as bread: a slice in the morning – toasted with butter – is not bad at all.


Quantity Ingredient

For the cake

Quantity Ingredient
100g butter, plus more for the tin
125g honey
3 eggs, lightly beaten
60g soft brown sugar
275g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons finely grated organic orange zest
200g creme fraiche

For the buttercream

Quantity Ingredient
250g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
2 organic oranges, finely grated zest

For the icing (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
160g icing sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated organic orange zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 30 x 11cm loaf tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the butter and honey in a saucepan and leave to cool a little. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and paler in colour. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and all the spices and fold in gently, then do the same with the honey mixture. Finally, fold in the zest and crème fraîche and pour into the prepared tin.
  3. Bake for one hour. Insert a skewer into the middle of the cake; it should emerge clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, make the buttercream: in a small bowl, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Cover and keep cold until you need it. When the cake is cold, cut it horizontally into three with a serrated knife. Spread the buttercream on the bottom and middle layers, then reassemble the cake.
  5. Mix all the ingredients for the icing (if using) and spread it over the top. Leave the icing to set before serving.
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