Fryda’s Secret Honey Cake Recipe

When it comes to traditional Jewish cooking, our chefs are happy to learn from the experts – residents like Fryda Mann, who shares her favourite honey cake recipe.

“Needs more booze!” Fryda Mann and her daughters collectively agree, as they taste-test the mixture for the honey cake that has been a Rosh Hashana favourite for many years. In fact, Helen and Linda explain that they brought back three bottles of rum from a recent trip to Cuba just for their mother’s famous cake.


“The neighbours would all know when I was baking. I used to make 10 of these for Yontef to give to friends,” explains Fryda, who has lived at Woollahra for two years. “I’m very happy here, the only thing I miss is having my own kitchen.” These days, the trio still cooks as often as they can at Helen’s home, and as they work together making the cake it’s clear how close they are and how much they enjoy each other’s company. “I’d be lost without them,” says Fryda. “Anything I need, they’re always there for me.” “Mum was always the boss of the kitchen,” says Helen. “She had a catering business at one point, and our late father Barney was a kosher butcher. We have all our favourite family recipes written out.”


“We’d love more residents to share their cherished family recipes with us,” says Catering Manager Catherine McGoldrick, “so we can bring them into our dining rooms for everyone to enjoy.” So keep an eye out as Woollahra chef Dominique Descat adds Fryda’s cake to the Rosh Hashana menu this year.


Fryda’s honey cake

“This is the best honey cake recipe – it always stays moist, and you can wrap it in foil and keep it in the fridge so you always have some for afternoon tea.” Makes 1 loaf

3½ cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp each ground cloves & ginger (optional)
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup cooled prepared strong coffee or strong tea
3 large eggs. lightly beaten
1 tbs vanilla extract
¼ cup brandy, whisky or liqueur (optional)
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1. Line a 20 x 30cm loaf pan with baking paper (no need to grease the pan).

2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except nuts) with a whisk.

3. Make a well in the centre of dry mixture, then add wet ingredients and stir well with the whisk to give a thick batter, making sure no thing sticks to the bottom. Stir in walnuts if using, then pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre. If browning too quickly, reduce the oven to 160°C.

5. Cool the cake in the pan. When cool, you can wrap it in foil and it will keep well in the fridge for several months (without nuts).