Honey Cake

honey cakeSometimes, you encounter a treat that becomes your nemesis. Until last year, honey cake was mine.

I first read about honey cake in Miriam’s Kitchen, an excellent book by Elizabeth Ehrlich that explores the connection between food and family, history, and tradition. The author described her Great-Aunt Dora’s honey cake as a rich, aromatic confection that was baked to celebrate Rosh Hoshannah in the hope of a sweet new year, and it sounded exactly like something I’d love to add to our holiday table.

Great-Aunt Dora’s recipe was included in the book, but when I baked it the outside burned, while the inside remained gooey and inedible. Years of honey cake experiments ensued, during which I tried different recipes each time, all with similar results. Last year, I scoured the internet for a new recipe, and I found this one, which yields a very successful, spicy orange honey cake.

Honey cake is still a bit tricky because of the amount of liquid and sugar (from both the honey and the white sugar in the recipe), so I recommend the following tips for baking:

  • Bake your cake at 340 degrees; the slightly lower temperature allows the cake to bake through without burning.
  • Check your cake for the first time at 33 minutes; the center will likely still look very wobbly, so continue baking for 3 minutes at a time, checking frequently, until a cake tester comes out clean. My cake bakes for about 43-45 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup orange juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 340 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 sheet cake pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, honey, vegetable oil, eggs, and orange zest. Beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and orange juice alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until just combined. Batter will be very runny.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 33-43 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before serving. This cake can be served as-is or dressed up with whipped cream, powdered sugar, or my favorite, a drizzly icing made of powdered sugar and orange juice.

Peanut Butter Honey Muffins

pb honey muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past three months, I haven’t eaten sweets. How, you ask, can a baker do such a thing? What would possess someone who clearly loves desserts to deny herself all manner of cakes, cookies, chocolates, and pastries for months? The simple answer is: her scale (which nearly got hurled out the window after Christmas). And so with only 14 days to go in Operation No Sweets ‘Til Denver (I’m going to Denver for work two weeks from now), I sought out something that was baked, but not dessert-like. Enter the peanut butter honey muffin.

One could argue that such a muffin is dessert-like, but it contains no sugar, only honey, so I put it in the same category as corn muffins or blueberry muffins; they are more of a breakfast item than a dessert (I mean, some people might have blueberry muffins for dessert, but I certainly wouldn’t).

Most of the time when I read a recipe, I have a good sense of how the finished product will taste. I expected far more peanut butter flavor in these muffins, which I’m sorry to say turned out bland. The original recipe called for only one cup of flour, but the batter was too runny, so I added about six generous teaspoons of additional flour, one at a time, to shore it up. I suspect that this may have altered the flavor, so next time I’d like to try adding crunchy peanut butter in a greater amount, and perhaps some brown sugar in addition to the honey to balance the texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 5 to 6 generous teaspoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • peanut butter, honey, or honey butter for serving

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together baking powder, salt, and one cup of the flour.

Add vegetable oil, peanut butter, and honey; mix with a fork, using a cutting-in motion like you would for pastry, until crumbs form.

Add milk and stir together; add additional flour, 1 generous teaspoon at a time, until the batter is no longer runny.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into liners, filling about three-quarters full.

Bake 12-16 minutes, until tops are very lightly golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack or serve warm; I recommend serving with peanut butter and honey, or honey butter, to enhance the flavor.