I've been having fun with olive oil cakes, including Italian Apple Olive Oil Cake and this Orange Ricotta Cake. But my very favorite currently is this Greek orange honey cake!
This light, flavor-packed honey cake skips all the fuss. And it's the simple cake that will feed a crowd.
In search for easy desserts that aren't laden with butter or frosting, I happened upon a slightly different version of today's honey cake in Jamie Oliver's book Food Escapes. An inspiration from the island of Aegina, where pistachios and honey from local beekeepers are aplenty! I was immediately hooked! To be honest, I was ready to try this cake the instant I saw that it involved pistachios. (Whether in a plum cake or baklava, I'll take any excuse to use pistachios!)
This Yiayia-approved honey cake can easily feed a crowd (12 to 15 or so). And it's the kind of simple dessert where you dump all the ingredients in one single bowl and mix! But, there is more...
Why this Honey Cake Works
There is a lot to love about this honey cake. Top of the list, it's insanely DELICIOUS and very easy to make! But here are a few more things bakers and non-bakers alike will appreciate:
1. The combination of flours, all-purpose flour with coarse semolina (farina), gives it such interesting texture.
2. Greek yogurt here lends a great light and fluffy texture. Plus, its slightly tangy flavor balances so well with crave-worthy citrus from the generous amounts of orange and lemon zest.
3. The honey-pistachio SYRUP is king in this recipe! Admittedly, Jamie's original recipe called for less syrup; I found that more of it was need for such a large cake. It lent flavor, and made for a perfectly "sticky" cake.
4. Finally, as always, if you're going to make an olive oil cake, use the best olive oil you can. Shameless plug...I highly recommend our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil. Learn more here.
For maximum flavor, drizzle the hot syrup--made of honey, fresh orange juice, lemon juice, and pistachios--on the cooled cake. If you have the time, I highly recommend that you let the cake sit a few hours before serving (it's even better the next day when all the flavors and moisture have settled!)
Watch how to make this honey cake:
Greek Orange Honey Cake with Pistachios
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: Up to 15 Pieces 1x
This light, flavor-packed honey cake skips all the fuss. And it's the simple cake that will feed a crowd.
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt (I used fat-free plain Greek yogurt)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 tbsp ground almonds (do this in a small food processor)
- zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup coarse semolina (OR farina, Cream of Wheat, or this Creamy Wheat Cereal)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
- Handful shaved almonds for topping, optional
For Honey Pistachio Syrup
- 1 1 /4 cup shelled salted pistachios
- 1 ¼ cup quality runny honey
- juice of 2 oranges
- juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with butter and dust with flour (shake the pan a little to get an even coating of flour).
- Make the cake batter. Place all the cake ingredients (except the shaved almonds) in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or a whisk to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
- Bake in heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and well cooked-through. To be sure, insert a wooden skewer into the center of the cake, it should come out clean if the cake is done.
- Remove from the oven and let the cake completely cool in the pan.
- Once the cake has cooled, prepare the honey syrup. Toast the pistachio in a dry non-stick pan over low to medium heat (pan needs to be large enough for the remaining syrup ingredients). Once they start to smell, stir in the honey. Add the orange juice and lemon juice. Bring to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until nice and syrupy. (Do NOT taste the hot syrup, it will burn your mouth)
- Stab the cake all over with a small knife or a skewer to create holes. Pour the honey pistachio syrup all over the cake as evenly as possible. If you need to, use a spoon to distribute the pistachios across the top of the cake. Sprinkle shaved almonds, if using.
- You can cut the cake into 12 to 15 squares and serve at this point (see notes for best results.)
- Note: The syrup needs to be hot when you pour it on the cooled cake, the cake will better absorb it. Also, for best results, allow the cake to sit for a few hours before cutting and serving. It is even better the next day when the flavors and the moisture have settled in.
- Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes
- Recommended for this recipe: Our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil. Also see our Greek olive oil bundle!
- Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: Orange Honey Cake, Honey Cake, Greek Cake, Orange Cake, Pistachios
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More Recipes to Try
Greek Pastitsio (Bechamel Pasta Casserole)
Mediterranean Bean and Broccoli Pasta
One-Skillet Garlic Dijon Chicken
Can I use cream of rice instead of cream of wheat??
Hi, Danielle. That may work... it's just not something we've tried with this recipe ourselves, so hard to say with 100% certainty.
I've made this cake three times in the last month. It is insanely good. I made it according to your recipe and it was orange perfection. Thank you for sharing it.
Thanks so much, Stacey!
Just made this for a dinner party and it went down an absolute hit! People went for second helpings even though they were already stuffed from the main course... I'm based in the UK so I had to convert all the measurements, which I've listed below for the convenience of others. I'm also dairy intolerant, so I replaced the yoghurt with vegan yoghurt (Koko brand). I also halved the sugar to 200g from 400g as per the suggestion of other commenters who had said it was too sweet, and it was perfect for me!
— 5 large eggs
— 236ml yoghurt
— 400g granulated sugar
— 5 tbsp ground almonds
— Zest of 1 lemon
— Zest of 1 orange
— 155g plain flour
— 170g coarse semolina
— 2 tsp baking powder
— 194ml olive oil
— 195ml runny honey
— 200g pistachios
— Juice of 2 oranges
— Juice of 1 lemon
Thanks for sharing! Very helpful!
I made this recipe last night (late Nov 2022). DELICIOUS. Love the sparkly citrus in baking. The course semolina flour and ground almonds give it sustenance. Add the honey syrup and you get a beautiful desert. I've never made a Greek desert before and felt pretty chuffed. My syrup turned out not sticky and syrupy and I want to ask you about that. I used a good quality clear honey and the lemon and orange juices... and lightly boiled it for 1-2 minutes, but it never got syrupy. I wonder if you could give me a measurement of how much juice should result from the 2 oranges and 1 lemon's worth of juice. Maybe my fruit produced more than the desired amount of juice? But you know what? It was still delicious. I'm loving your site! Thank you.
Thanks, Fran! So glad you enjoyed the recipe. Typically, one lemon will yield 3-4 Tablespoons of juice, and 4-5 Tablespoons of juice per orange.
I happened across this cake just the other day. Lucky me! I made it yesterday (taking advice from other reviewers, I cut the sugar by half) and served it today to rave reviews. So delicious, so moist, and the flavor is amazing! I admit I was concerned about the amount of syrup, it seemed like too much but... the secret is to leave it for several hours or overnight, as the recipe says. It will soak in all that luscious syrup and it's heavenly. Thank you for a wonderful addition to my favorite cake recipes!
So glad you enjoyed it, Nancy!
Hi Suzy. Love all your recipe idea. I'm in Melbourne Australia, we don't really use cup measurements here. Do you have this recipe grams??
Hi, Kim! Thanks for reaching out. I'm so sorry we don't have metric measurements for this recipe available. We do try to add them when we can, but we just haven't found the right metric conversion tool for every recipe on our website quite yet. It's something we're working on solving.
Hello! We recently ate a Mediterranean themed desert at a restaurant but it was a ricotta cake with pistachios and honey with a very distinct flavor profile (not sure if the spices used). This looks pretty similar, do you think the Greek yogurt could be substituted for ricotta?
Interesting idea! I think it could possibly work, but it's not something we've tested before. If you give it a try, please stop back! We'd love to hear your thoughts.
This is a delicious cake! My whole family loves it!! How do you suggest I store this? And how long does it last?
Hi, Kim. If you just leave it out at room temperature for one or two nights, it should be fine covered. When I want to keep it for a few days, I place it in the fridge and take it out well enough before serving. Hard to say how long it will last. It goes pretty fast at my house!
Can sour cream be substituted for the yogurt?
Hello! We'd recommend sticking with the yogurt here. Enjoy!
I have a question concerning the oven baking. Do I use the upper and lower heating elements in the oven or just the lower heating element?
Hi, Marianne. With my oven, I use only the lower. The upper is more for broiling. So glad you enjoyed the cake!
Made this exactly as written for Greek-themed dinner party and it was a hit! So simple to put together and definitely feeds a crowd. I highly recommend a piece with coffee for brunch the next morning (if there is any left over!)
But, what can i use instead of eggs.
Hi, Esha. I'm afraid I don't have a great egg substitute for this one, as I've never tried it with anything else.
The recipe sound great. But please advise what i can use insrtead of eggs. we are vegetarians. thanks.
Made this cake for my husband’s Greek family reunion, received many compliments. It is Delicious. But I wouldn’t describe it as a “light” cake, it is very flavorful, but it’s quite dense. No complaints at all!
Glad it was a hit for you, Nancy!
Hi. What to substitute for Greek yogurt?
Can almond flour substitute ground almonds? If not, do almonds need to be coarse or fine?
Hello! fine ground almonds work best here. I don't recommend using almond flour.
Hi, I am used to using walnuts with honey in desserts. Have you tried substituting walnuts for pistachios? How do you think it would work.
Hi, Sarah! I haven't tried walnuts with this one. If you give it a go, please stop back and let us know how it turned out!