Spiced Orange & Honey Cake – Sugar Free

Spiced Orange & Honey CakeMy friends’ adorable baby girl, Olive (just look at those cheeks!), turned 1 last week and her mother, Danna, asked me if I would make the birthday cake. Now, birthday cakes are something that I have made a lot of over the years for Jake as well as the children of friends and neighbours. There have been dinosaurs, ships, butterflies, bears, football pitches, stars, numbers….The most memorable and completely ridiculous year was when Jake turned 4 and I made one to take to his Nursery school, another for the birthday party at home and one for the children’s party in a church hall. Making and decorating 3 cakes is fairly deranged but one of them was a train with 2 wagons, made completely from scratch and which nearly gave me  nervous breakdown! I finished decorating it at about 4 am…utter madness even if it was rather spectacular!

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's TableDana asked me to make a sugar free cake as she has managed to keep Olive away from refined sugar thus far. Well, thank goodness for the trend in “naked” cakes – that took care of the icing, but what about the cake itself? A little research led me to birch sugar with the rather unfortunate and chemical sounding name of Xylitol – the name is actually derived from the Greek word for tree – “xyl”. It is a naturally occurring sugar, found in birch, berries and corn husks. Xylitol has a Glycemic Index of only 7 which is 10 times lower than sugar and 4 times lower than fructose; it has 40% less calories than sugar and 75% less carbs and looks and tastes just like sugar. It is used in exactly the same quantities as sugar.

So I planned to make a naked Honey Cake, layered with whipped cream and berries, but then realised that would be tricky to put together as the party was taking place in the gorgeous gardens of The Telegraph, a stylish country pub in Putney. So in the end, I used my patterned Bundt pan and served slices of the cake with organic ginger Greek yoghurt and blueberries.  Just before bringing it out, it was lightly dusted with a tiny amount of icing sugar and decorated it with edible butterfly wafers and flowers by Alex, a very sweet young chap who is 4 – didn’t he do a wonderful job?

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's TableThis recipe is an adaptation from Marcy Goldman’s Treasures of Jewish Holiday Baking and Deb Perlman’s Majestic and Moist Honey Cake. I have cut back on the sweetness and the spicing, adjusted the leavening and added orange zest to the batter for more flavour.  You could of course make the cake with regular caster and brown sugar if you wanted to. As an added bonus, the smell of this cake baking will make your house smell incredible!

I ended up having to make it twice. Disaster struck the first time as I didn’t grease the tin properly and the cake stuck to the pan and broke coming out of it. It was, however, really delicious and moist which I was really happy with and Spiced Orange & Honey CakeJake took it to a picnic he was going to so it wasn’t wasted. The second time, I not only greased the tin, but also floured it which highlighted the spots I had missed – easy to do on these patterned tins.

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's TableThe cake is so easy to make – mix together the flours, raising agents and spices, make a well, pour in the sugars and wet ingredients, beat, pour into the tin and bake. It couldn’t be simpler. Just make sure that you grease your tin properly!!

Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake | Selma's Table

This week, I am thrilled to be co-hosting Fiesta Friday #29 with my old partner in crime, Jhuls @ Not So Creative Cook. We are throwing a pool party over at Angie’s this week.  Come, dressed in your most glamourous poolside lounging gear and let’s celebrate the wonderful summer we have been having. I’m the one in the white linen, bejewelled caftan, huge floppy hat and the rhinestone flip flops!

If you have Fiesta’d then you know what to do. If you haven’t, it’s really easy;

  1. Write a post – it doesn’t have to be about food but it should be a new one for the party.
  2. Add the link from Angie’s Fiesta Friday #29 post (http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/mille-crepe-cake-fiesta-friday-29/) to your post together with a line or two about the party.
  3. Finally click on the purple Fiesta Friday “click to join” button which will take you to the linky page so that you can add your link to the party page.

I’m probably not making much sense so read the guidelines here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

Jhuls and I would be over the moon to see you at our Fiesta. If you are new to blogging, Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. So, put on your most fabulous pool party gear  and join the party!!! Mix and mingle with all the guests, follow and leave comments too – it is the friendliest party around! Click over to Angie’s post for FF#29 to join the party or click on the button below.



Sugar Free, Spiced Orange & Honey Cake

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 235 ml warm strong black tea (I used 2 rooibos teabags)
  • 440 g  plain/AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 235ml mild flavoured vegetable oil (I use Olivio)
  • 340g/1 jar of honey
  • 225 g Total Sweet (xylitol – a wood or birch sugar – replaces refined cane sugar)
  • 60 g coconut/palm sugar/jaggery  (brown sugar replacement)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 100-12o ml of orange juice (which is approximately the juice from one orange)


  1. Make the tea and set aside to steep.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F
  3. Grease a 25 cm/10 inch Bundt tin thoroughly especially if patterned. Pop into the fridge for a few minutes, then flour it, which will also highlight any spots you have missed. Grease the entire inside of the tin as this cakes rises magnificently. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  4. Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the baking powder and soda, the salt and the spices. Whisk really well to mix and aerate, then make a well in the middle of it.
  5. Pour/add in the rest of the ingredients (the oil, the honey, the tea (squeezing the teabags to extract as much flavour as you can out of them), the xylitol, the palm sugar, the eggs, the vanilla and the orange juice and zest).
  6. Set the hand mixer on the lowest speed and mix until really well blended. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
  7. Pour this very liquid batter into the prepared baking tin.
  8. Set the tin onto 2 baking sheets (this ensures that the cake cooks evenly as the batter is so liquid)
  9. Place in the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes. Check to see how it is coming along and cover loosely with aluminium foil if it is starting to catch and burn – let your sense of smell guide you too.
  10. Set timer for 10 more minutes then use a wooden skewer to ensure that it is cooked all the way through. Both times, mine took exactly 60 minutes to bake.
  11. Let the cake set in the tin, on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then place a wire rack over the top of the tin and flip it over. Give it a gentle shake and the cake should detach itself easily from the tin.
  12. The cake tastes better the next day, after it has had a chance to mature.
  13. Serve with Honey or Ginger flavoured Greek yoghurt and some blueberries or enjoy a slice plain with a cup of tea.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





77 thoughts on “Spiced Orange & Honey Cake – Sugar Free

  1. Pingback: Mille Crêpe Cake | Fiesta Friday #29 | The Novice Gardener

  2. Sugar free you say, well then this has to go into my ‘must make next birthday for dad’ list as I come from a family of diabetics. I could certainly do with eating less sugar.!And it certainly does look fabulous! Win-win x


    • Deena, it does have honey and jaggery in it so double check on the glucose count but you could certainly use the Xylitol in another recipe – I am not sure why it’s not more widely used. It did turn out very pretty in the end – thanks for noticing!!


  3. Happy Belated Birthday Olivia! The cakes are beautiful, and awesome job with the no refined sugar. However, I cannot imagine decorating them until 4 am. I would be bound to do something silly, such as spill an entire bottle of vanilla extract on top.

    Thanks for co-hosting FF this week! I’ll be the casual one in Tevas, who is ready to jump in the pool at any moment. Have a wonderful weekend!


    • Yay Kaila! The pool is already full of revellers so jump right in! The cake I finished decorating at 4am was one for my son when he turned 4, so about 13 years ago! Chocolate frosting, marshmallow smoke, liquorice wheels, chocolate finger train tracks and wagons full of sweets and very shaky writing!! Complete and utter madness…This one I made on the morning of the party so all was OK.


  4. I love the sound of a honey-sweetened cake. So much better for you and I do think the taste can be superior. Great looking cake Selma, thanks for bringing it to the party- and for hosting of course :-)


  5. I adore this cake so much, Selma! And I love the efforts you put in this cake. I think it really happens that when we are making something for someone, terrible things happen. So as I said when I made the drink I am bringing today, I always have option #2 and #3. :D

    That baby girl is so adorable and so cuteee!! The cake is so gorgeous and so pretty with the edible butterflies. :)

    I am so happy to be co-hosting again with you, Selma.(Thank you too Angie)

    Let’s enjoy the chitchat, the party and the foods. :D


    • Thanks Bubbles – so happy to be co-hosting with you. You can eat as much of this as you like as it won’t give you a sugar rush. Baby Olive is just adorable, isn’t she??Those cheeks – nom nom….I’ll be round soon to see what everyone is doing at the party xx


  6. Hi Selma, what a lovely cake! I was going gaga for it when I saw it on Instagram. Now I know why you had a take two photo! :) Interesting bit about the xylitol. Will have to explore that option for myself. Thanks for co-hosting and happy Friday!


    • Thanks you Ngan – I couldn’t believe it when the first cake broke coming out of the pan and knew I had to share it on Instagram!! Xylitol is very interesting – you do need a good GMO free source – so avoid the corn husk version…


  7. Good God, what an ordeal! Sounds like something I would do just for the sheer drama of it all, but you stuck with it and what a fabulous cake! May little Olive forever remember it, and you!


    • Thank goodness that it’s actually quite an easy cake to make so it was more a matter of time than anything else. It was Jake’s train cake 13 years ago that was the ordeal – talk about madness…I must find a photo of that and put it up on IG…x


  8. Hey Selma! Thanks so much for being the ever gracious co-host with your sidekick, Jhuls! Wow, Angie is sweet to let us use her pool! I brought my floaties in case I eat too much! Love the cake! I will have a big piece – thank goodness for my floaties! :D


  9. What a beautiful cake Selma! Perfect for a little girl’s birthday cake, I love the addition of the butterflies. This cake sounds so yummy …love that it is a honey cake and it looks so good and moist. Wonderful job Selma!


  10. Wow Selma, what a beautiful cake and sugar free no less. That is amazing. I love all the flavors and how you were able to create such an incredible cake with no sugar or refined sugar, It’s a real challenge, I bet that sweet little girl just loved her birthday cake and how you decorated it.


    • She is just adorable!! The cake isn’t very sweet at all – it’s quite a big one and I have reduced the sugar from the original recipe too. After my first trial/disaster with the cake sticking I wanted to keep the butter in the tin as hard as possible so that it didn’t slide off or melt into the very liquid, slightly warm batter. I’m not sure if it helped but I’m now not going to risk not doing it!!!


  11. Lovely to see you back co-hosting FF this week and with this beautiful cake. I like that it is sophisticated and at the same time ideal for a children’s party. Such a cute birthday girl.


  12. So even cooks/chefs like you have the occasional disaster, Selma me love ! Who’d’ve thunk it ?!
    Can your friend keep Olive off refined sugar always ? – is that possible ?


  13. I have not been making cake for a very long time, and your cake is just a push I need to get back to baking again. I love your ‘naked’ cake so so much that I would have made it right now if I have all the ingredients. It looks so tasty and so cute with Alex’s creation (Great job!!!)

    This is so fantastic, Selma. I always love coming ‘here.’ :)
    huge hugs


  14. What a lovely cake for a birthday, Selma! Awesome that you have made it sugar free too; thanks for the information on xylitol, sounds good. I’m thinking of making this with an egg-substitute already!


    • Thanks so much – it’s a really good party this week – some really lovely posts. I know that a jar of honey seems like a lot but this is a really big cake – at the party, over 25 people/children had some! The batter can fill three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. It really wasn’t too sweet at all!.x

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Orange and honey my favourite combo and sugarfree is what I love in my bakings and this recipe of your looks just heavenly Selma. ..will try this soon and treat my family. ..thanx for wonderful recipe and happy B’day to little angel Olive…


  16. Your cake looks wonderfully moist. How interesting that you used xylitol. Xylitol is very popular in Finland and it is used often in chewing gum here. It also stops the attack of the caries bacteria in your mouth and so dentists strongly recommend its use and often will ask if you are using xylitol products after every meal. :)


    • Hi Teresa – I am so glad you enjoyed the post! The cake tastes amazing and the aromas that emanate from the oven should be distilled and made into one of those scented candles or diffusers!! Not often that I do a healthy cake but this one, being refined sugar free worked out really well!


  17. Lovely, Selma! A chef friend of mine just suggested xylitol to me although I have not tried it. I now have to avoid carbohydrates and have been using stevia, but am unable to bake with it. Thanks for the recipe!


  18. That is a beautiful cake indeed. Naked cakes have something about them- the flavors of the cake come out so much better. I made a similar loaf cake recently too- similar flavors. :)


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