Two rough looking mountain men stood outside my door. Wild eyes, chiseled features, long unkempt hair and sinister moustaches. "Bhaia ne bheja hai", they said. As I pondered which cousin had decided to prank me, Hubby turned up behind them. " They are with me." All further questions were preempted by the younger of the two. " Bhabhiji, patila. Fresh Honey hai hamare paas."
Confession time. My hubby is pretty gullible when it comes to helping people in need. I have never known him to say no. Ever! So as I pondered what racket these guys were running, they produced a hive from their sack. Soon, oozing into my bowls was the fragrance of roses and spring! At least this was a sweet smelling racket. Three litres lighter and a few hundred rupees richer, the men departed happy.
Before I could launch my tirade, Hubby appealed to my health freak side. Uh uh! I was not falling for that. Honey may have health benefits, but there was no way i was consuming unprocessed honey! A few neighbours assured me this honey was marvellous. They had purchased from the Mountain Men in years past and never been disappointed. But I just wouldn't budge. So there stood the bottles in the pantry, forlorn and dusty. A month later, I opened them to check if they had gone stale. Once again, the promise of roses and sunshine enticed me. The monsoons were in full swing and the rains had me longing for spring. If I closed my eyes and inhaled the honey, I could just feel the fresh warmth around me. I had to figure out a way to incorporate this!
There was still no way I was going to consume it raw, so a cake was the safest route to take. Google to the rescue and I chanced upon Marcy Goldman's recipe. It had the right texture I needed and the ingredient list was perfect to warm up these windy weeks of grey rain! I scaled and adapted it from here. And my house was enveloped with the warm smells of heavenly baking!
This cake is not over sweet or sticky as most honey cakes are. It is light, almost delicate with an intense flavour that just gets better with time. No stale cake quandries with this one. Infact this cake was so good, I had to bake another batch the very next day!
So elevate your monsoon cuppa with your very own version of sunshine. And bake some goodness today. Don't worry about indulgence! Honey is healthy, remember ;)
Maida 1 and 3/4 cups
Baking Powder 1/2 teaspoon
Baking Soda 1/2 teaspoon
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
Cinnamon 2 inches
Ginger Powder 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
Oil 1/2 cup
Honey 1/2 cup
Granulated Sugar 3/4 cup
Brown Sugar 1/4 cup
Eggs 3 (small)
Vanilla Essence 1/2 teaspoon
Warm tea 1/2 cup (I used Early Grey)
Orange Juice 1/4 cup (fresh)
Orange Zest 1/2 orange
Whiskey 60 ml
Pre heat the oven to 180 C. Grind together the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and ginger powder. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and the spice powder. Make a well in the middle and pour in all the rest of the ingredients. Use a wire whisk to mix it all together. If you want to use an electric mixer, use it on slow speed. Too much air into the batter will spoil the texture of the cake. Scrape the bottom and the sides to ensure the batter is mixed thoroughly. Pour into a greased and lined 9 inch bundt cake pan. Bake for 60 minutes. The cake should spring back when you gently touch the center. Let it rest in the oven for 15 minutes before you demould and attack!!!
I used early grey tea to intensify the citrus notes. You can use your regular brewed tea. Jus remember no milk or sugar.
You can also substitute the tea for strong brewed coffee.
You can bake the cake 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. However I found baking in a ring or tube pan gave better results.
If you have large eggs, use 2 1/2 or just 2.
The whiskey can be substituted with rum or fresh orange juice.