‘Tis the season for sore throats and colds. Having some honey handy, ready to work its medicinal wonders, is a must. Of late, I’ve had a few spoonful’s myself, sprinkled with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, to make sure I recall how to make this century-old home remedy when sore throats take over my house. Honey is right up there with chocolate on my list of favorite sweet treats. Our grocery store does not stock much beyond clover honey, but I’ll take it! I remember in my youth trying out a very dark, buckwheat honey. It had a very strong taste; a little too strong for my youthful palate. But now that I am older and wiser and fully ready to take on such powerful and complex flavors, I can’t seem to find it easily. On our recent travels to Poland, I noticed that varieties of honey abound. Honey plays an important role in traditional Polish baking, but it’s a tricky ingredient to work with. For the Christmas holidays, however, it’s time to set aside any of these fears, pull out that honey jar, and bake up a storm.
I’ve noticed that honey is more often than not paired with spices. The recipe that I baked with today uses honey in its unadorned glory. The base for this recipe is from my mom’s first cousin. She made this cake when we were visiting my mom’s family in Canada over Christmas, many, many moons ago. I remember eating one piece, and then another, and another. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I now bake this cake for my family every Christmas. Kids ending up getting hooked on it. Maybe it’s the lack of spices that draws kids to it. The cake is their relief from the barrage of flavors that hit them during the holiday season.
The recipe’s focus is on honey, but I’ve tweaked it to add some orange flavor as well. I have never tried icing this honey cake–instead, a light (or heavy) dusting of confectioner’s sugar is sufficient. The sugar disappears somewhat into the moist top, so the cake doesn’t stay snowy white for long.
If you use the full recipe, you end up having a lot of runny cake batter on your hands. You can easily cut the ingredients in this recipe in half if you do not want to have so many cakes to deal with eating or freezing. For this round of baking, I ended up using the full recipe. My standing mixer couldn’t handle it, so I ended up doing the final mixing by hand, so the batter wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked.
The recipe makes one 10″ Bundt cake and a loaf cake. And you might even have enough cake batter left over to make a small loaf or cake as well. When I tried it this time, I used a smaller kugelhopf pan instead of a bundt pan, which left me enough batter for two loaves. I filled the pans about 3/4 of the way.
Still, the cake baked just fine and was eaten up by my family so fast, that it almost was not possible to take these photos.
After Christmas, it makes a good coffee cake or snack cake for the kids, so don’t feel you need to set it aside after the Christmas season is over.