Fried Honey Citrus Cakes

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These Fried Honey Citrus Cakes are a subtly sweet, sticky, perfect bite sized treat.Β 

Fried Honey Citrus Cakes |

This week for #SundaySupper we’re exploring Middle Eastern foods. I have to admit, when I first saw the theme for this week, I was kinda clueless. Middle Eastern food is one that I have yet to explore, but I’m always up for a challenge, so I started looking for a recipe that would fit the bill.

I recently found the cookbook, Essential Mediterranean, on the clearance shelves at Barnes and Nobles (score!). I have a hard time resisting a new cookbook, especially when it’s chock full of beautiful full-page color photos. I’d been wanting to dive into Mediterranean food for awhile, and this seemed as good a place as any to start. It breaks down the classic cuisine of the Mediterranean by region, giving Italy, France, Greece, and Turkey their own sections. Lucky for me, there just so happened to be another section dedicated solely to the cuisine of the Middle East and North Africa.

Fried Honey Citrus Cakes |

For some reason, I have an idea in my mind that Middle Eastern cuisine is difficult to prepare, uses ingredients I don’t have, or will inevitably cause stress, hair pulling, and/or fits of tears. But what I found as I thumbed through the pages of this cookbook were recipes that were beautiful and easy to prepare. Recipes that depend on fresh meats, warm spices, and vegetables to make simple, flavorful meals.

And then there’s this little gem–Fried Honey Citrus Cakes. The picture hooked me. What’s not to love here? Little balls of cake deep fried and then covered in a sweet, sticky glaze? I was SO in.

I don’t always fry things, but when I do, I make sure it’s cake covered in sugar syrup.

Fried Honey Citrus Cakes |

Really though, it’s rare that I’m willing to deal with the general mess that is deep frying, but this? This was so worth it.

The batter for these “cakes” is really more like a bread batter–it’s thick and sticky and elastic–but unlike bread dough, this batter smells like an orange grove. *Dreamy.* It takes about 5 minutes to mix up, but requires an hour of rest time before rolling out. You can use a biscuit cutter or juice glass to cut out small circles of dough, which then get plopped in hot oil and fried until puffy and golden brown.

Fried Honey Citrus Cakes |

Then comes the glaze. Holy moly this glaze. This is really just a simple syrup with the added flavor boost of honey, lemon juice, and orange zest. It’s really not much different from the Lavender Simple Syrup or Vanilla Simple Syrup that I use for coffees/cocktails and in my series on How to Make Tea Lattes. Here it just uses citrus flavors and makes a sweet, sticky, shiny glaze that you bathe all the fried cakes in before eating.

So there you have it–a towering plate of puffy, fried, orange-scented cakes smothered in a honey lemon glaze. I recommend eating these warm with a cup of hot tea. If you have leftover glaze after dunking the cakes, feel free to pour the rest over the plate, or use it as a dipping sauce. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

One quick note, despite the frying and the cakiness and the glaze factor, these are not donuts. They’re much less sweet, and more delicate and subtle than a typical donut.

They have just the right amount of sweetness to make your taste buds smile, but not so much that your fillings hurt. Which makes them perfect for breakfast. At least, that’s how I’ve been eating them. #dontjudgeme

Fried Honey Citrus Cakes |

And if you can’t get enough sweet donut-y goodness, then check out my Asian Buffet Style Chinese Donuts!

Fried Honey Citrus Cakes

These Fried Honey Citrus Cakes are a subtly sweet, sticky, perfect bite sized treat.Β 
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Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 730kcal


For the cakes:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup caster superfine sugar (You can sub granulated sugar, or give granulated sugar a little pulse in the food processor to break down the granules))
  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons flour (extra, for rolling)

For the glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Zest of one orange
  • Vegetable Oil (for deep frying)


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, orange juice, and oil. Stir in the orange zest and sugar and whisk until frothy, about 2 minutes. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, then use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture together until a smooth dough forms. The dough will be sticky. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
  • To make the syrup, heat the lemon juice, sugar, and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the honey and orange zest and simmer for an additional five minutes. Turn heat down as low as possible, and just keep glaze warm while you fry the cakes.
  • To finish the cakes, sprinkle a small amount of flour on a clean countertop or piece of parchment paper. Add the dough to the floured surface, flour your hands, and then work in just enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. It doesn't need to be in any particular shape. If the dough keeps "jumping back," give it a few minutes to rest before trying to roll again. Use a 2 inch round biscuit cutter to cut out round cakes.
  • Pour vegetable oil in a deep pot to about 3-4 inches high. Heat the oil to 325-350 degrees. Drop the cake rounds into the hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time, frying until golden brown or about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove hot cakes and place them on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Don't worry if the cakes don't stay perfectly round when you drop them in the skillet--they'll puff up and be just fine.
  • Drop several cakes at a time into the glaze and let them sit for 15-30 seconds to let it soak in, then remove to a platter. I like these best served warm. You can also drizzle any additional glaze over the top of the cakes once you're finished. If you have leftover, reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds or until soft and sticky.


  • Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass for even size cakes.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword fried cake, honey citrus cake


Calories: 730kcal | Carbohydrates: 144g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 162mg | Potassium: 116mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 137g | Vitamin A: 234IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a review, Mention @NeighborFoodie, or tag #neighborfoodies!

Recipe adapted from Essential Mediterranean.


  1. Wow, I’m so impressed with how perfectly golden ‘n crispy your honey cakes are, Courtney! And kudos to you for deep frying. I don’t think I ever want to attempt it but damn, do I ever love deep fried foods. It might be worth the left-over oil and the smell of grease if I could make and eat an entire batch of these by myself.

  2. These are dreamy (cheesy but true!)! The flavors sound like just the thing for me. Amazing looking Courtney! I had the same idea about this cuisine, but it’s really good food worth the work.

  3. These look phenomenal. I would love some of these right now, although I might just eat the glaze. It looks sooooo good.

  4. I hardly ever deep fry either, Courtney, but these do look totally worth the trouble! I have a weakness for discounted cookbooks myself. Sounds like you got a winner there!

  5. These darling cake-breads would definitely have my tastebuds smiling, Courtney. Your photos are sooo alluring…Wish I lived near by so I could visit the Neighborfood and request just one (or two or three!) to try =)

  6. These look so good! I wonder if I could use some orange flower water in them since I now have it from my dessert! Guess I’ll have to try πŸ˜‰

  7. “I don’t always fry things, but when I do, I make sure it’s cake covered in sugar syrup”… you kill me, Courtney!

  8. I love this post for two reasons…. I love Honey Cakes and I am that person that always looks through all the clearance cookbooks… because the over 300 that I own aren’t enough!

  9. Oh, my gosh. This is not what I needed to look at at 7 AM…looks like the best doughnuts ever..even though your citrus cakes are for dessert! No problem…I could start and end my day with them πŸ™‚

  10. I think a lot of people have the same fears you did about Middle Eastern food but really most of it is easy, good food! I will be making these guys for my kids soon! Thanks for joining in this week!

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