“An heavenly honeybun cake made with a tender homemade yellow cake, swirls of gooey brown sugar cinnamon and the best buttery vanilla honey glaze!”

I’m sorry if I’ve been a little distracted on Divas Can Cook lately. I decided to take my many years of self-taught herbal learning a bit further and I’ve been venturing down the expedited path of becoming a registered herbalist. I’ve been knee-deep in courses, tinctures, and decoctions!   More on that later.

Thankfully I’m finally found a balance between being back in school and all my other commitments. This means I can get back to creating more for my blog. Yayy!

honeybun cake

This place truly is one of my many happy places, but I’m sure that’s obvious being that I’ve been blogging for over 12 years! 

Hey, I’ve kept a journal since I was 14 so documenting things is my nature! And I love that I get to share my favorite recipes with you guys!

But I’m going to make up for my slacking on my weekly blog posts right now…

honeybun cake homemade

This brings me to honeybun cake!!!

 I’ve got a from-scratch version tested and perfected for ya! Lord have mercy! Have you had it before?  When I saw this cake it immediately brought back childhood memories of walking to the convenience store with my cousins.

My mother was strict, but if we stayed together she’d let us walk unsupervised. I always got a giant hot pickle and a Little Debbie honey bun.

I’d save the honey bun until I went to school. There it sat in my hot locker and by the time school was out, it was like it had been warmed in the oven! It was so soft and chewy and the glaze was perfectly sticky! OMG it was so good! Ahhh… memories.  I digress.

I knew this honey bun cake was trouble as soon as it started popping up everywhere during the early Pinterest days. It seemed like everybody was pinning that pin and I rebuked it. 

Nope, it wasn’t going to suck me into all of its sinful-looking goodness!! Anything that I’m not supposed to have is my weakness 90% of the time and it’s usually food-related…so… yeah.

It won.

The time has come!

glazed honeybun cake

What is a honeybun cake?

A honeybun cake is basically a yellow cake with gooey brown sugar cinnamon swirl layers. It is finished off by pouring on a vanilla glaze as soon as it comes out of the oven. It’s reminiscent of a honey bun (or cinnamon roll)  in flavor so that’s where it gets the name. 

Now you see why this cake is trouble huh?? Just buttery, fluffy, sweet, sticky goodness! Half the doggone thang was gone within the first hour at my house! Yeah, it’s “one of those” desserts so be careful.

I’m not sure who actually invented this trap, but this is one addictive cake! It would make a great potluck dish and it’s incredibly easy to whip up.

The Yellow Cake

When I first made this cake I tried the popular recipe that’s featured on several sites. It uses a boxed yellow cake mix with sour cream,  and vegetable oil added to the mix.  It was pretty good but there is nothing like a homemade yellow cake with all of its real buttery flavors.

To achieve this I used my homemade yellow cake recipe. It makes the perfect base for this honeybun cake. This recipe uses buttermilk which creates a moist cake that is so tender and balances out the sweetness!

So take a few extra steps to create my easy homemade yellow cake batter. It’s worth it and takes honey bun cake to the next level!

honeybun cake from scratch

The BEST honeybun cake glaze..the secret

After a few times of making this honey bun cake, it finally dawned on me that it didn’t include any honey LOL. Hey, honey buns need to have honey and this incredible glaze is amazing on this cake. Wanna know the secret? Butter!!

This glaze has a touch of honey and butter added to a basic vanilla glaze recipe and that was the icing on the cake. (ha! I couldn’t resist) Butter really bumps this classic glaze up a notch or 100.

Ingredients to make a honeybun cake

YELLOW CAKE BATTER

  • all-purpose flour- The base for the yellow cake mix.
  • baking powder- Used for leavening
  • baking soda- Used for leavening
  • salt- Used for leavening and flavor
  • unsalted butter- Give richness, color, flavor, and moisture to the cake.
  • granulated sugar- For sweetness
  • eggs 
  • vanilla extract
  • buttermilk

BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON MIXTURE

  • light brown sugar- The touch of molasses gives the best cinnamon swirl taste and texture
  • granulated sugar- Balances out the brown sugar
  • cinnamon- To create that light cinnamon swirls that the best honey buns have.

GLAZE

  • powdered sugar-The base for the glaze
  • milk-To thin out the glaze to a pourable consistency
  • honey- For sweetness and a subtle honey flavor
  • butter- For flavor and smooth texture
  • vanilla extract- To lightly flavor the glaze
honeybun cake recipes

Instructions for making a honeybun cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a glass 9×13 baking dish with shortening or cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer.
  4. Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until combined.
  5. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  6. On low speed, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk until the batter is combined and fluffy. Set aside.
  7. In a bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.
  8. Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared pan in an even layer
  9. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar mixture in an even layer.
  10. Top with the remaining cake batter, spreading it out using an offset spatula.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon mixture on top.
  12. Swirl a knife through just the top layer a few times.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes, then tent the cake loosely with foil (don’t let the foil touch the batter) and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the middle is set. (Or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)
  14. Place cake on a cooling rack.
  15. Immediately make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, butter, honey, vanilla extract, and milk until silky. Add a pinch of salt.
  16. Immediately pour it over the hot cake and gently spread it into an even layer.
  17. Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes, allowing the glaze to firm up. (I like to pop it in the fridge or freezer to help the glaze and cinnamon layer cool off and firm up, otherwise it’s super gooey)
honey bun cake

Tips for the BEST honeybun cake

1. Don’t swirl the middle layer. Just sprinkle that cinnamon sugar on there and then top with the batter. I swear it seems to come out so perfectly gooey that way.

2. Add the glaze while the cake is hot. It’s important that you spread the glaze while the cake is still hot. This will give it that thin, sticky, lightly glazed appearance.

3. Let the cake rest. It’s tempting to dig right in but don’t! The cinnamon sugar layer needs to firm up a bit and so does the glaze. 20 minutes usually does it and the cake will still be deliciously hot.

4. Chill before cutting. This is a rich and gooey cake! To make cutting the cake into bars easier, I like to chill it a bit in the fridge or freezer just until the bottom of the pan is cool. This allows everything to set up perfectly and creates cleaner cut.

honeybun cake recipe

FAQs

How do I store honeybun cake? Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Can I cut back on the cinnamon sugar mixture? Sure can! Just make sure you have a nice even coat on both layers. It doesn’t have to be thick.

Can I add nuts to this cake? Yes, if you like, you can add nuts to the cinnamon sugar layer or sprinkle on top as soon as you add the glaze.

Can I add sour cream to the yellow cake batter? This cake already has buttermilk which provides enough moisture.  I’ve replaced the buttermilk with half sour cream and half whole milk before and it was good, however, I prefer it with just plain buttermilk.

Can honeybun cake be frozen? Yes, you can freeze honey bun cake. Be sure to wrap it tightly and place it in a freezer-safe container.

Is this cake sweet? YES!!! It’s very sweet, gooey, rich and downright delicious! Which makes it perfect to pair with coffee.

How many calories does this cake have? See…what had happened was…

I hope you guys enjoy this cake as much as we did! It’s great with a side of ice cream (if you’re just like yolo swimsuit season is almost over) or with a hot cup of coffee!

best honey bun cake

Get the Recipe: Honeybun Cake (From-Scratch)

5 from 12 ratings
"An heavenly honeybun cake made with a tender homemade yellow cake, swirls of gooey brown sugar cinnamon and the best buttery vanilla honey glaze!"
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients
 

YELLOW CAKE

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

CINNAMON SUGAR LAYER

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

VANILLA HONEY GLAZE

  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon light colored honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • salt, pinch

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a glass 9×13 baking dish with shortening or cooking spray and set aside.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer.
  •  Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until combined.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • On low speed, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk until the batter is combined and fluffy. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.
  • Pour half the cake batter into the prepared pan in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar mixture in an even layer. (You can use less if preferred)
  • Top with the remaining cake batter, spreading it out using an offset spatula.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon mixture on top.(You don't have to use all of it, just enough to cover the top evenly. I usually have a bit left over.)
  • Swirl a knife through just the top layer a few times.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then tent the cake loosely with foil (don't let the foil touch the batter) and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes or until the middle is set. (Or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)
  • Place cake on a cooling rack.
  • Immediately make the glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar, butter, honey, vanilla extract, and enough milk to make a pourable, silky glaze. Stir in a pinch of salt.
  • Immediately pour it over the hot cake and gently spread it into an even layer.
  • Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes, allowing the glaze to firm up. I place it in the freezer for a few minutes which makes cutting this gooey cake into bars much easier (see note).

Video

Notes

I like to place the cake in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes (or until the bottom of the pan is cool. This will allow the glaze to harden and the cinnamon layer to firm up. This is a rich and gooey cake regardless, but this tip makes it MUCH easier to cut into squares. 
Cuisine: American, southern
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.