Honey Black Walnut Cake with Apple Cider Syrup Glaze

Recipe and photo contributed by Johnisha Levy Yield:  12 servings
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cook Time:  55 minutes

Honey Black Walnut Cake with Apple Cider Syrup Glaze

This cake, inspired by cookbook author Marcy Goldman’s honey cake and an ancient Washington Post clipping for black walnut cake, is toasty, warm and satisfyingly sweet, with the earthy crunch of black walnuts. The cider syrup glaze adds a tart counterpoint. —Johnisha Levi



2¼ cups (281 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour

1½ cups (169 grams) unbleached cake flour

1 tablespoon (13.6 grams) baking powder

1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda

½ (3 grams) teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons (2⅔ grams) ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon mace

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in ¾ cup warm water

¾ cup canola oil

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons walnut oil

1 cup (215 grams) dark brown sugar

1 cup (204 grams) granulated sugar

¾ cup buckwheat honey

¼ cup whiskey

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons coffee extract

¾ cup black American walnuts, Hammons preferred

¾ cup golden raisins



½ cup cider syrup, Carr’s Ciderhouse preferred

1 cup (124 grams) confectioners’ sugar, or to taste



  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Spray a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Prepare a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine and then sift the all-purpose and cake flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, mace, allspice, and white pepper and then sift them onto the parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the espresso mixture, the canola oil, walnut oil, brown and granulated sugars, honey, whiskey, eggs and coffee extract and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Switch to a paddle attachment, and beat in the dry ingredients in two batches on low speed, just until incorporated.
  4. With a spatula, fold in the raisins and black walnuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 23 minutes, rotate the pan 180° to ensure even baking, and bake for 22 minutes longer, until the cake has a moist crumb when a skewer is inserted, but the batter is not wet. If it is still wet, return the cake to the oven at 300°F for 10 minutes, or until a moist crumb is achieved.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning the cake out onto a plate (see Notes from the Test Kitchen). Transfer the cake back to the wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
  7. To make the glaze, combine the cider syrup and confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the cake before serving.

Kitchen Tips

  1. This cake may perform better in a Bundt pan because of the amount of tenderizers in the batter. As Shirley Corriher explains in her book, Bakewise, a Bundt pan lends these cakes the extra structure they need to rise.
  2. If you prefer to make an alcohol-free version of the cake, just substitute an equal amount of coffee or espresso for the whiskey.
  3. You can add more sugar for a thicker glaze, but I prefer a thinner glaze with less sugar, as it preserves the characteristic tartness of the cider syrup.

Notes from the Test Kitchen

Nervous about turning a cake out of the pan once it’s baked? It can be a risky move. It is easier to simply place the cooling rack on top of the cake pan, holding the rack on firmly with one hand, and the bottom of the pan with the other (with an oven mitt if necessary), and flip it over quickly, still holding firmly with both hands. Set it down and let gravity and the nonstick vegetable oil spray do their work.

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