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.


  1. It all turned out in the end as this is a very respectable looking Honey Cake! I was so tempted to use Lyle's Golden Syrup, I can't even tell you how much as I'm not a honey in baked goods fan. My grandmother from Iowa made that pie of which you speak and then my mother, only it contained nutmeg. We all love it! It was even mentioned on the PBS A Few Good Pie Places special.

  2. It looks fine, but I am with you, I can't get beyond all that honey. It strikes me this cake is a tradition, ceremonial almost, for some people who have grown up savoring its various sensitivities and liking it. I have not, and that is fine. I chose to bake our Bucket Macarons, but even that enterprise ceased at almond flour, xxxx sugar and bowls arriving upon the counter. Now, at 10:09 p.m. I am in bed with a dozen files, a laptop, and Star's 6.5 pound radiator percolating upon my chest. Oh well. Macarons tomorrow, God willin' and the cri 'k don't rise.

  3. I expected something caked a honey cake to be much sweeter than what this cake turned out to be. Your cake looks lovely, even if it wasn't your cup of tea.

  4. Your cake has a beautiful color and crumb Marie. I looks quite tasty. I do like the idea of a dollop of creme fraiche on the side. I could just see you shuttering every time you typed honey - Great visual post as usual

  5. I saw how you used the cake strip to criss-cross your bundt pan, I thought to myself in Singlish- "Wahh..Like this also can?!?" I suppose it worked cos your honey cake came out beautifully!

    1. Faithy now we know - Yoda was speaking Singlish!

  6. You can bake a great-looking cake even when you don't feel like it? That's terrific!

  7. It looks great Marie. I thought about making this cake but I kept forgetting to buy orange juice. I wasn't sure about the quantity of honey either, not to mention they are expensive and will add to my collection of liquid sweetener (I have lyle's golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, agave nectar in the pantry). But if I make it, I'm gonna go your route and use a bundt pan!

  8. At least you used a pan that was the right size! I found my cake a bit gummy too. It looks like your crumb was a little nicer than mine (which I didn't take a picture of). When I tasted it, I tasted coffee first, then booze, then the spices, then the honey. Funny, huh?

  9. Marie, your cake looks a lot like mine. I made mine in a one piece angel food pan (GASP!), which is the only kind I have ever had--in fact I have two of them and have never had a problem! I have never had honey cake before. I don't like coffee and it didn't look very appetizing to me. It surprised me. The tasters have been unanimous in their enthusiasm for it. The creme fraiche puts it in a new category. This one turned out to be a keeper.

  10. I like the idea of a Rosh Hashanah potluck, you'd need to make sure not everyone brought honey cake. As I said people at work loved this but I think these flavours are fairly familiar ones here.