Honey, Cake {Honey Cake}

First, let me just say that we’re not big on terms of endearment in our house.  We don’t call each other Sweetheart or Babycakes or Darlin’.  Or, god forbid, Lover (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little). Sometimes I’ll call my husband stinky, but that’s mostly a descriptor and not so much a term of endearment.

But today’s his birthday, so I’m throwing caution to the wind.

Honey, this cake’s for you.

Happy Birthday, Loverboy.

I married a man whose ideal dessert is yellow cake with white icing, so sometimes I like to change things up a bit in the flavor department.  This year’s cake is a variation on a basic buttermilk cake, but it uses honey granules in place of granulated sugar, and raw honey and honey granules in the cream cheese frosting.  It’s a honey cake.  For my honey.

I think what I like most about honey is that it has a sort of savory quality.  It’s sweet, but also a little salty.  Or musky.  Or earthy.  Or something. It has a complex flavor profile is what I’m getting at.  It works well in this cake, playing against the sour tang of the buttermilk and the cream cheese, and adding a slightly salty note to the whole thing.  It’s almost like a salted caramel, without the caramel or the salt.

It’s tasty, and I think you’ll like it.

Honey Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
prep time: 30 minutes (total, cake and frosting)
bake time: 25 minutes
yields: 2 eight or nine-inch layers

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered honey granules
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 1/3 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour (I used freshly milled here)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon real salt
  • 1 cup cultured buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup raw honey honey
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered honey granules

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans
  2. Sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat 3/4 cups room temperature butter on high speed until light and fluffy
  4. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of honey granules, beating on high speed for 3-5 minutes
  5. Beat the eggs together and slowly add, taking about 2 minutes
  6. Add 1/2 a scraped vanilla bean and mix to incorporate.
  7. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts – begin and end with flour.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes (mine were actually quite dark at the 24 minute mark).
  9. While cake is baking: combine 1/2 cup honey and scraped vanilla bean in a small saucepan.  Add a tablespoon of water and stir to combine.  Heat over low heat until it comes to a simmer.  Remove from heat and allow to cool
  10. Remove cake layers from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5-1o minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
  11. Brush the tops of your cake layers with honey/vanilla mixture.  Reserve the remainder to add to the frosting.
  12. For the frosting: place the cream cheese and 4 oz. of butter in the bowl of your electric mixer.  Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
  13. On medium speed, slowly add the honey/vanilla mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  14. Add powdered honey granules with mixer running.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  15. Frost cake layers as desired.
  16. Enjoy.

When You Need a Little Pick Me Up: Tiramisu

While there are plenty of things at which I excel, one of the things that I’m not so good at is keeping a tidy and well-organized house.  I struggle with day-to-day chores like vacuuming, dusting and keeping toys picked up and counters wiped off.  It’s just not my thing.  I envy people for whom this comes naturally – like my cousin.  Her house is always spotless, and her kids’ toys are neatly organized and stowed away in color-coordinated bins.  I’m working on it,. but I’m not there yet.My most recent foray into home organization can be seen above.  I got tired of everyone coming home (me included) and leaving their jackets draped across the backs of dining room chairs and kitchen stools, bags sitting on counters or floors and shoes strewn about the house.  I thought if we had a place by the front door where we could remove our shoes and hang our jackets and bags it would be a step in the right direction.  For the last year or so, I’ve been looking for photos of mudrooms and entryways, and when I found something I liked, I would add it to one of my pinterest pin boards.  My goal was to try to recreate these ideas at home on a very restricted budget. I finally managed to do this for under $150, and so far it seems to be working.

Now I just have  to get to work on organizing the rest of the house.  And keeping up with the laundry.  Which is never ending.  Just thinking about all of it is exhausting.

Yesterday, after a morning of house cleaning – which really just entailed me locking myself in my bedroom for four or five hours and filling trash bags with junk and removing every bit of stuff from all of the flat surfaces and thoroughly dusting each and every bit of furniture (including the bookshelves and the books), and vacuuming under the bed, dresser and side tables – I emerged with my lungs full of dust and a hankering for something a little indulgent (as you do).

I settled on Tiramisu, which in Italian means “pick me up.”  It seemed appropriate after a long morning of terrible housework, plus I knew it would be a hit at a neighborhood get together that evening.  Espresso-soaked lady fingers, layered with a rich combination of zabaglione and mascarpone – what’s not to love?

Tiramisu
prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 8-10 minutes
rest time: 2-4 hours
yields: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons honey granules (can use granulated sugar)
  • 4 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 7 oz. packages lady fingers
  • 2 cups brewed espresso
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Begin by making the zabaglione.  Combine 5 egg yolks and 1/4 cup of honey granules in the top part of a double boiler.  Using a hand-held mixer, beat on high speed until light in color and foamy.  Bring water to a boil in the bottom part of the double boiler then reduce to a simmer. Add the marsala wine to the egg yolk mixter and place over the simmering water.  Continue to beat on high speed until it has thickened and increased in volume – it should form soft mounts.  Removed from the heat, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream, mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of honey granules.  Beat on high using the whisk attachment until light and fluffy.  Once the zabaglione has cooled, fold it into the mascarpone mixture.

For the espresso mixture, take two cups cooled espresso, add 2 tablespoons honey granules and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.  In a glass trifle or baking dish, assemble the Tiramisu.  Begin by dipping one side of each lady finger into the espresso mixture and then laying them in the bottom of the dish.  Once you’ve covered the bottom, pour 1/4 of the mascarpone/zabaglione mixture over the ladyfingers and spread it out to cover them.  Sprinkle this with a dusting of cocoa powder, and repeat three more times (ladyfingers, espresso, mascarpone, cocoa).

Once the whole thing is assembled, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

This was the perfect little pick me up yesterday – the strong espresso plays perfectly against the rich, creamy mascarpone and the eggy zabaglione. Paired with a hot cup of coffee or a bit of freshly brewed espresso, it’ll keep you going for hours.

Enjoy!