Saturday, 2 April 2011

02.04. Honey Cake

Hi, how are you today? I made a promise yesterday that today’s post was going to be about something edible, with a subsequent recipe. As you probably have guessed from the title, the recipe is for a honey cake, one of my old favourites, and one I have baked many times. My father is very fond of this one too, unfortunately my parents live in Sothern Spain and I live in London, UK so I can’t just pop over to them with a cake now and then! But fortunately we have reasonably prices for sending small parcels, less than 2 kg, within Europe, so a couple of weeks ago I sent off 2 honey cakes with Southern Spain as the destination :-) I am pleased to report that the cakes have reached their destination without anyone en route feeling tempted to nick them...I suppose mobile phones might be more tempting to nick among the postal staff, but I am sure that in every warehouse these two parcels were stored, the staff could smell the cloves and the ginger coming from the parcels! By the way, mobile phones are no longer legal to send via British Royal Mail...precisely because so many “got lost in the post”, i.e. got nicked by the staff after having been X-rayed and the parcel content was revealed. The answer to the problem by Royal Mail has been to ban all mobile phones in ordinary parcels. Perishable food is also banned, but I don’t consider a cake perishable, obviously Royal Mail didn’t either, since they let them through the rigorous custom security check. Anyway, here is the recipe:


Honey Cake

Ingredients
•             4 egg whites
•             4 egg yolks
•             250 g sugar (dark brown sugar gives best flavour)
•             250 g honey (use runny, not set honey)
•             125 g butter (not margarine)
•             ¼ tsp ground cloves
•             ¼ tsp ground pepper
•             ½ tsp ground ginger
•             1 tsp baking powder
•             250 g strong wheat flour (don’t use ready bread mix, they often contain yeast)

1. Set the oven to 170 degrees C , the cake needs to bake on the bottom shelve.

2. Melt the butter in a micro oven or on the hob in a small saucepan.

3. Use a bit of the butter to grease a baking tin or a bread form; place a piece of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the tin. It is not necessary to line the side of the tin, but butter the sides generously.

4. Pour the honey into the melted butter and set aside to cool.

5. Weigh the flour and mix in spices and baking powder, set aside.

6. Separate the eggs, put the egg whites in one bowl, the egg yolks in a different bowl together with the sugar.

7. Whip the egg whites stiff with a mixer, don’t use a blender or a food processor for this unless it has a separate whipping attachment.

8. Whip the egg yolks and sugar for 2-3 minutes with the same mixer as in 7, the sugar doesn’t need to melt, but the mixture should be light and airy and paler in colour.

9. Pour the cooled butter and honey mix into the egg yolks and sugar, mix a further few seconds to everything is completely mixed.

10. Fold the flour mix carefully into the batter, a bit at the time. Don’t use the mixer for this, use a larger metal spoon. Stir as little as possible whilst mixing in the flour.

11. Fold the egg whites carefully into the batter, a bit at the time, using a large metal spoon.

12. Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and put it into the oven on the bottom shelve.

The cake needs to bake for around 1 hour, or until it is finished - check after around 50 minutes depending on what kind of cake tin you are using. The taller the cake, the longer it takes to bake. And ovens vary a lot too. I use a round, 24 cm cake tin and in my fan assisted oven it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake. Use a cake needle or a wooden skewer to check if it is ready; if it comes out dry the cake is ready, if it is moist cake batter on it give it another 5-8 minutes and check again. But don’t leave it too long; the cake is best if it is slightly moist in the middle. 
My cat usually lies next to the oven when I have it on, not sure if he just likes the heat or if it is the prospect of something edible coming out of that thing eventually – he doesn’t eat honey cake though but dutifully pays attention to the cake rising and baking.

This cake is wonderful lukewarm straight from the oven, the same day. But it can also be kept in the fridge for a long time. Just wrap in tinfoil and a plastic bag and it will keep very well. When you want to serve a piece or two, just give them a very quick flash in the micro oven and the cake will taste like it did the day you baked it. Be aware though, you don’t need many seconds in the microwave to heat up a slice of cake, it is easy to cremate it and completely ruin this gorgeous cake :-)

According to the recipe, this cake is supposed to be better after having been matured in the fridge for a month or so, getting the full flavour of all the spices and the honey. I must admit I have never tried that; for some reason, my honey cakes never last a whole month so I never get a chance to try! Oh, who am I kidding, never last a month....they never last a week, sometimes not even a day! But if you can manage to get one of these cakes to last a whole month I am sure there are other people besides me who would be interested to know whether there was a noticeable improved taste or not. Please post a comment here :-)

If you are making this cake for a special occasion, it looks very nice with a chocolate layer on top. Melt one large spoon of butter in a small bowl in the micro oven. Break into pieces 100 grams of dark good chocolate and pour into the butter. Let it melt slowly in the butter and if necessary, put it back in the micro for a quick flash but be very careful, it only needs seconds at the time. Whilst the chocolate is still warm, spread it on top of the honey cake and decorate with flaked almonds or candied fruit. This cake is irresistible with a spoon of good ice cream, especially if you leave out the chocolate so that the cake can be warmed in the micro before serving. Warm honey cake with ice cream. Yum! Now, you just have to get the ingredients for this cake so you can give it a go too, right? And I promise that my next recipe here will be for homemade ice cream that doesn’t need stirring and you don’t need an ice cream machine for. Next week-end possibly, so keep in touch, and I might see you before then, as there are plenty of things going on in  my garden so until next time, take care :-)

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