Honey Sponge Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    18 pieces

Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

The Portuguese who lived in Nagasaki about 400 years ago made a honey cake very similar to this one. The Japanese were quite taken with it and developed their own version of the cake, without any butter. It has become a Japanese classic, taught in cooking classes devoted to traditional Japanese sweets, and is served with native green teas as well as with “foreign” black teas or coffee.

The generous amount of honey makes a moist cake with a rich, dark surface on both top and bottom, while the concentration of egg yolks makes the cake a deep yellow color.

I’ve included an optional fresh ginger icing for the cake, which I think transforms this classic into a tantalizing new dessert.


  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 yolks from large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • cups sifted self-rising cake flour
  • vegetable oil and several tablespoons cake flour, for preparing baking pan (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the eggs and yolks with an electric mixer on medium speed until thick and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating all the while. Continue to beat at medium speed until the mixture is very thick, pale, and at least triple the volume of the original beaten eggs. Dribble the honey into the egg and sugar mixture, beating all the while.

Add the flour in two or three batches, folding to incorporate it into the batter.

Use a nonstick-surface 9-inch-square baking pan, or prepare your baking pan by greasing it lightly. Place a 9-inch-square piece of cooking parchment on the bottom of the pan and grease this as well. Lightly flour the lined pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently tap on a flat surface to ensure removal of large air bubbles.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes. The top surface will change to a rich burnished brown, and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean. (The cake looks best when smooth and flat on top. A fairly new product on the market, silver-colored asbestos quilted strips that encircle a baking pan, do a fine job of distributing heat and thus evening off any bumps or wrinkles on the surface. The reusable strips need to be dampened in cold water before being snugly fitted and pinned around the outside of the pan.)

Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before removing it to a serving platter. Cut the cake into thirds, then across into -inch pieces, for a total of eighteen. Peel off the bottom parchment as necessary. Serve one or two pieces per person.