Sunday, September 20, 2015
Honey Cake For a Sweet New Year
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this cake, even after eating it. As far as I know, I've never tasted a honey cake before, and honey is so sweet that it kind of makes me shiver just to think about the idea of all that honey. Honey is so sweet--too sweet for my taste, except in very small doses, like a drizzle on top of fruit and yogurt. Maybe if I'd had a lifetime of Grandma's Honey Cake, I'd be very enthusiastic about this one, but while I certainly didn't hate it, it also didn't make me want to make it again next weekend. (My own grandmother used to make something called Old-Fashioned Cream Pie, which contained, I believe, only cream, brown sugar, and white sugar. I loved it then. It sounds horrifying now).
Not hard to make but lots of ingredients. I confess that I made a few substitutions that made this cake inauthentic--one by accident, and one deliberately. There's a can of Lyle's Golden Syrup hiding behind the honey. I just couldn't bear the thought of a full cup of honey. (There's that honey shudder again). And I ran out of canola oil, so I melted enough butter to get the liquid shortening up to 215 grams.
My one and only angel food cake pan is not nonstick, and it doesn't have legs on it, which appalled Woody when he was here. (Hey Woody--remember how you were going to send me this big care package, with many items including a respectable angel food cake pan? Just wondering). The cake strips kind of flopped around over the bundt pan, but I eventually criss-crossed them so they effectively covered most of the pan.
It was a very peculiar-looking batter. There were so many liquid ingredients that, even with the sugars and honey added in, it looked like some weird broth. A witches' brew, even.
Adding the flour and other dry ingredients turned it from broth into an unappetizing brown puree, so I had to try to stop thinking of it as soup.
In the mixing bowl, the batter seemed of such enormously large quantity that I didn't think it would fill the pan, but to my surprise, there was still plenty of room. It did rise almost to the top while it was baking (I turned on the oven light to check its progress, because I wasn't at all sure that it was behaving appropriately for a honey cake.
At 45 minutes plus 15 minutes, it was looking a little over-browned on top, and a tester came out clean, so out it came. (Don't worry--the cake didn't start to shrink from the sides of the pans until after it was on the wire rack. I've become obsessive about that since I'm now convinced that any problems I've ever had with dry cakes stem solely from the cake being in the oven just 2 minutes too long).
It's not really a beautiful cake, and the texture is moist, but just a little gummy. But Jim loved it, and JJ (to my surprise) asked for more (with ice cream, of course). On my first bite, I thought that the orange was too predominant a flavor, and I couldn't taste the coffee at all. I thought that the cake was better on the second day. I used whipped cream (and ice cream for JJ), but creme fraiche, with its tanginess, would have been a better foil.
I'm not sure I'd make this cake again, mostly because I don't think people would know what to make of it. But if I'm ever asked to a Rosh Hashanah potluck, I know what I'll bring. And I'd use all honey and no butter.