Go On, Have A Little Beer In That Cake

A beer-y delicious cake.

A beer-y delicious cake.


Yes, this cake is two treats in one.

It’s not just brewski with cake; it’s beer in the cake.

“Big Honey Hefeweizen Spice Cake” is from the adorable cookbook, “Cake, I Love You” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Jill O’Connor, of which I received a review copy.

O’Connor is a veteran cookbook author, as well as a food columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. And she obviously knows her cakes, as evidenced by the 60 recipes in this book.


Whether you like to bake cakes that are no-nonsense or like to spend hours decorating them to the hilt, you’re sure to find a cake in here to please.

The chapters are divided into main flavoring ingredients, such as “Banana,” “Coconut,” and “Garden & Orchard.” They range from the simple one-pan “Banana-Butterscotch Loaf” to the three-layered “Classic Southern Caramel Cake” to the “Creme Brulee Cake” that’s frosted in Mascarpone German Buttercream before being adorned with dramatic caramelized sugar shards.

Hefeweizen is a German-style wheat beer that’s typically dry and citrusy, with undertones of cloves and bananas.

Tangerines flavor the glaze. Or use oranges instead.

Tangerines flavor the glaze. Or use oranges instead.

Think of this as spice cake-light. It’s not dark and profoundly spicy like one made with molasses. Blonder in color, the prickly, deep warmth is dialed down a bit. Instead, it’s a spice cake more full of woodsy, rounded citrus flavor, owing to the coriander and nutmeg in the batter, and the tangerine juice and zest in the glaze that is poured over the top.

It’s just the kind of cake you want when the dead of winter is giving way, little by little, to the airiness of spring.

Simple and sweet.

Simple and sweet.

Big Honey Hefeweizen Spice Cake

(Serves 6 to 8)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup hefeweizen beer, preferably one brewed with honey

1/3 cup mild honey, preferably orange blossom

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 teaspoon grated clementine or orange zest

2 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

Clementine Glaze:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon grated clementine or orange zest

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons fresh clementine or orange juice


Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with an 8 1/2-by-15-inch strip of parchment paper so it covers the bottom of the pan and hangs over the long sides.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the beer, honey, butter, and grated zest. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring the beer mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer set at medium-high speed until pale and thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the beer mixture in two additions and beating just until smooth. Do not overmix or the cake will be tough.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Set the pan to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Grasping the overhanging parchment, lift the loaf out of the pan and set it on the rack. Let cool completely before glazing. Discard the parchment paper.

To make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and zest together until well combined. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and the juice until the glaze is thick and creamy but still pourable.

Drizzle the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Let set before slicing. The cake will keep, well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature, for up to 3 days.

From “Cake, I Love You” by Jill O’Connor


More Fun with Beer: Boiled Crab in Beer


And: Mussels in Sour Beer


And: Pop’s Beer Braised Bold Beef Stew

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  • I had one of Jill’s baking books. She’s a great baking author!

  • Does the beer give the cake a hoppy flavor? I’m not a fan of the hops. But I love cakes. Wish I was better making them. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to throw out an entire cake (usually comes out too dense). Maybe cupcakes are safer for me. LOL

  • Ben: Not a hoppy taste per se. The beer amplifies the coriander and citrus in the cake. If your cakes are too dense, you might be over-mixing the batter. Doing that will sometimes create a cake with a tough texture.

  • i enjoy adding beer to baked goods! this cake looks pretty darn yummy, and the book looks fun too!

  • Want to make Jill O’Connor’s Lemon Loaf cake but I’m confused. I need more info about the lemon oil she calls for in the recipe. 1 1/4 teaspoons is a lot of lemon oil. The Lorain oils sell by drams. Is this some ‘essential’ oil that is culinary? If an item is not ordinary, there should be more of an explanation.

  • Robin: I haven’t made that particular lemon cake recipe. But I’m guessing that Jill O’Connor is referring to a product like this one: http://www.boyajianinc.com/bakingLemon.html

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