Home RecipesCakes Cooking by the Book: Beorn’s Honey Cake

Cooking by the Book: Beorn’s Honey Cake

by Paula

I fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth when I read The Fellowship of the Ring. Admittedly, I was only introduced to Tolkien when the movie came out (cringe, cringe). My childhood didn’t offer much opportunity to explore literature as much as I wanted and I had to scrape together my meager allowance to buy used books. Forget about libraries; the only ones that I had access to were school libraries and I made sure to spend most of my free time there. But enough of the sob story. Today’s all about Beorn’s Honey Cake.

Beorn's Honey Cake

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that this is the fourth challenge in the Cooking by the Book series.  I haven’t had the time to write about the others (madeleines, pumpkin pasties, and treacle tarts) but I’ll hopefully get to them soon.

For those who aren’t familiar with The Lord of the Rings, Beorn was a skinchanger who helped Thorin and the dwarves in The Hobbit. He takes on the form of a huge bear, and true to stereotypical bear behavior, he was fond of honey. In fact, honey was added to most of the food he made.

Honey cakes, though, were the Beornings’ specialty. They were renowned for being one of the best bakers around and Gimli probably loved their honey cakes.

“Indeed it is,” said Gimli. “Why it is better than the honey-cakes of the Beorning, and that is great praise, for the Beornings are the best bakers that I know of;”

Beorn's Honey Cake

In the book, the honey cakes were twice baked to keep them fresh for a long time, making them perfect for traveling around the Middle Earth for weeks. In the real world (aka our world), these cakes taste much better fresh out of the oven but can be kept for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

This is a very simple recipe but I upped the appeal factor by using this specialty pan from Nordic Ware. I’ve had my eye on this for a few months, but they were too expensive to buy from the shop. Luckily I found a seller on Carousell (it’s like Ebay) who was selling it at a cheaper price.

Honeycomb pan + honey cakes? Sold. Oh did I mention that it makes an adorable pull-apart cake? The pan has these cute bee designs with ridges that make it easy to separate each section.

Beorn's Honey Cake

If you don’t have this honeycomb pan, don’t fret. You can use a 9-inch cake pan as well.

Beorn's Honey Cake

For my version of Beorn’s Honey Cake, I used a combination of cornmeal and flour. The cornmeal, not to be confused with corn starch or corn flour, added an interesting texture to the cake. The cake came out tender but with a hint of grittiness on the tongue. It’s not rough or coarse per se, but the cornmeal lent a je ne se quois (oh, snooty) to the cake.

Beorn's Honey Cake

If cornmeal isn’t available, you can use all purpose flour instead. While I haven’t tried baking this cake using all flour, I think it will turn out just as good too. It will probably taste like honey sponge cakes. Drool.

I also tried infusing the milk with cardamom and cinnamon. Following a quick simmer to melt the butter, I let the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick steep for 30 minutes in the warm milk and butter mixture. I love how the milk smelled like cardamom. It’s seriously my new favorite spice. Haha.

Serve it warm for tea and top it with butter and honey. Delicious!

Beorn's Honey Cake

Ready to try this Middle Earth treat for yourself?

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Beorn’s Honey Cake

  • Author: Paula (Gobble The Cook)
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 9-inch 1x


Honey cakes were the Beorning’s specialty in the Lord of the Rings. This tender and sweet cake is easy enough to replicate and perfect to top with butter and honey!



138 grams (1 cup) cornmeal

120 grams (1 cup) all purpose flour

110 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

240 ml (1 cup) milk

60 ml (1/4 cup) honey

4 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

57 grams (1/4 cup) butter


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, milk, honey, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure that butter is melted. Remove from heat and let the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick steep for 10 minutes or more.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  3. Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick from the milk mixture. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter onto the prepared 9-inch cake pan.
  5. Bake at a preheated 350F/180C oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the toothpick comes up clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting on to a serving plate.


  • You can use a non-stick spray or melted butter to prep the pan before putting in the batter.
  • If you don’t have cardamom pods, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom. However, add it in with the dry ingredients rather than steeping it in the milk.
  • I love cardamom but if you haven’t tried or don’t like it, you can try to lessen the amount used. Or you can more for a stronger taste!
  • If cornmeal is unavailable, use all purpose flour instead.
  • Category: Cake, Challenge
  • Method: Baking

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Liz Jun 7, 2021 - 2:11 PM

Hello! Has anyone tried using all corn flour? I have friends with Celiac and want to make something they can have. Would all corn flour plus an egg for binding work??

Paula Jun 15, 2021 - 10:43 PM

Hey, Liz! I haven’t tried using corn flour in baking, but I think it would work. It would probably result in something denser than the normal cake you’d get if you mix it with normal flour. I say go for it and let me know how it turns out!

Kathia May 2, 2020 - 7:05 AM

Just tried this recipe with the beautiful bee pan from nordicware. We thought it was tasty but you should mention what kind of corn meal to get. We got the gritty kind and ended up having crunchy cakes rather than what we were expecting.

Also, this recipe needs to be doubled if using the 11” Nordicware bee pan. This recipe only yielded the bottom half of the pan, making the cakes already separated when ready to consume.

Paula May 4, 2020 - 8:36 PM

Good idea on the cornmeal. I only usually can only get one kind here so I hadn’t given it a thought. Hmmm, I’m off to check the pan, I don’t remember having that problem but I can put a note for that too. Thanks!

Jenny Jun 10, 2020 - 11:15 AM

Thank goodness someone said something about the Nordic pan. I wondered why it looked like it wouldn’t cover much. I ended up just trying to mix the Nordic Pan recipe and this one. Hoping it turns out.

Paula Jul 5, 2020 - 7:39 PM

Hey, yeah, I think I better dust off my old recipe notebook and see if there’s some sort of mix up. How did it go?

Sharon Apr 29, 2020 - 11:26 PM

I made these last night for my Hobbit Day today. I made them with corn meal and all-purpose flour, and when they were still fairly fresh from the oven drizzle a warmed honey and corn syrup mixture over them and sprinkled them with slivered almonds. They are marvellous for (First) breakfast with a cup of coffee. Thanks for this recipe. ?

Paula May 4, 2020 - 8:33 PM

Hobbit Day? Sounds interesting! I’ll try putting almonds next time.

Susan Apr 20, 2020 - 7:35 AM

Are there really no eggs in the recipe? If so, I need to pass it on to a friend who is allergic to eggs.

Paula Apr 26, 2020 - 10:20 AM

Hi, yes. This one doesn’t have any eggs. Hope your friend likes it!

Katie Feb 12, 2020 - 7:10 AM

These are absolutely delicious! I did make several changes though, and haven’t actually tried the recipe as written. For the first batch I used whole wheat flour in place of the cornmeal which was good, but for the second batch (and every batch after) I used 1 cup of barley flour instead of the cornmeal which is AMAZING. I also traded the sugar for all honey (3/4 cup honey total) because I’m an extreme nerd and I can’t imagine Beorn using sugar. 🙂 Since Beorns honey cakes were twice baked for traveling food I tried that too! I baked these for about 20-25 min until just barely set, dumped them out on a cookie sheet and cut them up immediately (I used the same honeycomb pan), brushed them with honey that I heated up so it was runny, let that soak in for 5-10 min, and baked them again for about 10 minutes. They make the cutest little individual sized cakes and the second baking gives them an amazing crispy outside while the center is soft and tender, however they are definitely not a traveling food. They start going stale within 2 days, even baked twice (still good but not nearly the same as fresh… I need to hide one for 4-5 days and see how it is, they keep dissapearing too fast!). I cant say they are the twice baked traveling honey cakes of the Beornings but I can definitely imagine Beorn making these at home so they are a keeper for me! (For context, when I started looking for a lembas recipe I tried a dozen recipes before scrapping that and making up my own, which took another dozen tries before I was happy with it. My final version can last 4+ weeks on the counter just wrapped in a Mallorn leaf… or rather bees-cloth in the shape of a mallorn leaf, tastes good, and is very filling. As close as I can get them without Elf magic!)
Last, I love using the honeycomb pan but of course it’s not authentically Middle Earth… my justification for it is that “the making of *Beorns honeycakes* is a secret”… the secret is that he baked them inside a honeycomb! 😀
In short, these are a delicious honeycake that totally passes for Beorning food, just not Beorns traveling honeycakes. Thanks for the recipe!

Paula Apr 26, 2020 - 10:13 AM

Hahaha, I know right? The pan is absolutely cute! Of course, not strictly LOTR but who can resist? I’m curious about your recipe with the beeswax Mallorn leaf – please share if you can!

Holly Oct 31, 2019 - 4:17 AM

The recipe never mentions HOW to prepare the baking pan.

Paula Nov 2, 2019 - 5:44 PM

Hi Holly, thanks for pointing it out. I’ll update the notes with this. For this specific mold that I used, I just used a non-stick spray like Pam. You can also brush it with butter.

LBG Oct 2, 2019 - 4:07 AM

This was not very good at all, sorry. I wouldn’t label it “tender” or “sweet.” Even trying to call it a cornbread was a stretch. It was dry and had almost no honey taste at all, despite adding more honey that called for. By all who know, me, I’m a pretty good baker and I don’t think I’ve ever thrown away a homemade dessert from my kitchen. This went in the trash. Even as a cornbread it wasn’t very good. To each his own. i loved the silicone pan I bought and will search for another recipe or use it for candy.

Paula Oct 5, 2019 - 7:08 PM

Oh, dear. I’m so sorry to hear that. Thanks for trying it out though, hope you find the recipe for you 🙂

Benny Sep 28, 2019 - 7:19 AM

I tried this but accidentally forgot sugar (it’s been a weird day). Luckily, it turned out fine- just more like a cornbread than a cake. With butter and honey it was great!

Paula Sep 28, 2019 - 7:31 PM

Oh, I’m glad it turned out ok Benny! I’ve never tried it without sugar (intentionally or otherwise), but it’s good to know that it’d taste like cornbread without it. ?

Kimberly Sep 3, 2019 - 11:47 PM

Hello. I was wondering if you thought it would be possible to reduce the sugar in this recipe? My dad is diabetic but he loves honey in recipes. Honey is already sweet, how far would you recommend reducing the sugar? Thanks.

Paula Sep 6, 2019 - 7:11 PM

Hi Kimberly! Hmm…I haven’t tried it myself, but perhaps you can start with half of the sugar? I didn’t personally find it too sweet, but then again I have a sweet tooth. Or maybe you can try other sugar alternatives like stevia? Good luck and please let me know how it goes!

melissa Aug 3, 2019 - 11:41 AM

Does the temperature or time differ when using the honeycomb pan rather than the 9 inch? Thanks!!

Paula Aug 4, 2019 - 10:12 AM

Hi Melissa, no difference in the temperature, but I found that it took me longer – nearer the 40 minute mark when using this pan. However, it’s probably better to poke one of the “cells” near the center to check for doneness. Hope this helps! 🙂

Lara Jul 29, 2019 - 9:58 PM

I made this over the weekend and it was lovely! It’s closer to what my family considers corn bread than cake, but we thought it was delicious and the kids loved the honeycomb shape with the bees on top. We devoured it too quickly for me to get a picture!

Paula Jul 30, 2019 - 2:25 PM

Thanks Lara! I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed it! 🙂

Meghan Morris Sep 10, 2018 - 10:18 AM

I tried these with a silicon version of the cake pan you have and it worked great! I’m sad that I didn’t read your post above the recipe more closely though, I’m sure it would have been even more amazing had I let the spices steep for half an hour rather than just 10 minutes. Have you tried twice baking these yet? I’m going to a medieval camping event next month that will last several days with no real refrigeration, so I figure that it might be nice to have slightly drier cakes (although I figure they’re going to disappear off the plate as soon as I get there). I just don’t have the funds to really experiment with it, so I’d love to know your results if you’ve tried it.

Paula (Gobble The Cook) Sep 10, 2018 - 10:43 AM

Hi Meghan, glad to hear that it turned out great for you! Unfortunately, I haven’t tried twice baking them yet 🙁 but I guess it won’t go stale so fast. If I remember correctly, I didn’t refrigerate these after baking and they were ok for 2 days, I think. But it all depends on what the weather is at the camp that you’re going to. Don’t leave anything to chance though, better be safe than sorry. If you get to try baking these twice, would you let me know how it turns out? And enjoy your camp, it sounds really interesting!

Loren Jul 28, 2018 - 6:56 PM

Where did you get the pan to make the cute honey comb shape?

Paula (Gobble The Cook) Jul 28, 2018 - 10:36 PM

Hi! I bought mine from a local reseller here in Singapore (Carousell). It was a lucky find but I’m not sure where she originally got it from. The local big department stores like Tangs or ToTT Store do carry Nordic Ware stuff, but the last I checked, I didn’t see this exact pan being sold. The best bet would be buying online from Amazon (search for Nordic Ware honeycomb pan). Hope this helps!

Martha Swicegood Nov 9, 2017 - 12:28 AM

No egg in this recipe?

Paula (Gobble The Cook) Nov 9, 2017 - 4:36 PM

Hi! Nope, I didn’t use any eggs in this recipe 🙂


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