Monday, March 25, 2013

Honey Cake Heaven


Last week I bought some beautiful buckwheat honey (made from the blossom of the buckwheat plant). Buckwheat honey has a fairly strong flavor with darker more molasses-like and malty tones. It is dark in color, and darker honeys tend to be higher in antioxidant compounds and mineral content than lighter ones.


I was excited to use my new purchase in a simple yet delicious honey cake based on a recipe that I have been wanting to make from Deb Perelman.  This cake is full of flavor from spices, honey, brown sugar, coffee and bourbon.  A fantastic combination. Making the cake is actually fairly easy.  You do not even need to use a mixer. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, pour in the wet ingredients, mix well by hand, and you are already 1/2 way there.  


I have to say that I was even more impressed with this cake once I bit into it. It was moist, full of flavor and not as sweet as I expected (a good thing). Buckwheat honey is also partially responsible for that. 
I used a Virgin olive oil (rather than the original recipe's vegetable oil), since it is healthier, but does not have the intense flavor of an Extra Virgin. This cake also has the perfect amount of bourbon flavor.  Not so strong that you want to refrain from eating it at work, (lest your colleagues will think that you have been hitting the bottle), but then not so hidden that you would never know it is there.  I took Deb's optional advice and sprinkled the top with chopped almonds. The toasted crunch is a perfect balance to the moist cake. 


Brian ate a piece with large scoop of french vanilla ice cream for dessert, while I had mine with my coffee in the morning.  (He has been known to eat ribs for breakfast, but I have yet to ever see him eat cake in the morning.) Which makes this the perfect cake for us...You can dress it up, or dress it down.  
  

 If you have a jar of honey in your cabinet that has been sitting there for far too long (and who doesn't), you need to jump up and make this.  In less than an hour you will have the perfect breakfast, dessert, snack and everything in between....

 
 
Honey Cake  (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 1/2 cups (440 grams) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons (about 8 grams) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup (235 ml) light olive oil
1 cup (340 grams) honey
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (95 grams) brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup warm (235 ml) coffee
1/4 cup cointreau
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup (45 to 55 grams) slivered/sliced/chopped almonds (optional)

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. I made mine in two 9-inch round cake pans.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour your pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee and alcohol, if using. 

Tip: (If you measure your oil in the same measuring cup before measuring your honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Blend well with a strong wire whisk or spatula- making sure that the batter is perfectly smooth before finishing.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with almonds.

Bake until cake tests done (it springs back when you gently touch the cake center). For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

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