Friday, 23 December 2011

23.12. Christmas Honey Cake

London was cloaked in rain filled clouds today, it was a chilly 8 degrees and the wind was going straight through all my 5 layers of clothes when I went to the hospital for my weekly blood test. So, typical December weather for London then! No gardening for me today either, although I did deadhead my pansies and pinks in my window boxes in my front garden, that counts for a bit of gardening, doesn’t it? At least they are still flowering! I have done my last bit of preparation for Christmas today, baked my honey cake, and I wanted to share my recipe with you as this is a wonderful cake – easy to make, suitable all year round, but especially for this time of year with all the lovely spices it contains. I have posted the recipe before, but that was a long time ago, so here it comes again, my absolute favourite cake, and the most asked after in my family :-)

Honey Cake

•             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.

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, add a melted chocolate layer on top – it looks great and you can choose different kind of chocolate to vary the flavour. I chose orange flavoured dark chocolate with chopped almonds for the honey cake I made today, but you can choose any kind of good quality chocolate. Melt one spoon of butter in a small bowl in the micro oven. Break into pieces 100 grams of chocolate and pour into the butter. Let it melt slowly in the butter and stir occasionally, 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 cooled honey cake and decorate with flaked almonds or candied fruit or some Christmas decoration like I have done here. This cake is irresistible with a spoon of good ice cream, especially my homemade ice cream which you can find the recipe for on my post from the 16th December. Warm the honey cake slightly in the micro oven before serving. Warm honey cake with ice cream. Yum!

My house has a lovely smell of cloves and ginger thanks to the honey cake, for me that’s Christmas more than anything else. Tomorrow is 24th December, and me being Norwegian; that is the day to celebrate Christmas, not the 25th. More about that in tomorrow’s post, see you then, take care :-)

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