After writing this blog for over two years, I’m surprised by how many things you all don’t know about me. Of course there are plenty of things you don’t know about me the person – Dana. As opposed to me the cook – Dana Treat. For example, even if you have met me, you probably don’t know that I have a hitchhiker’s thumb on my left hand but not on my right. Like my thumb bends all the way back. I kill at thumb wrestling.
So maybe it is not surprising that I haven’t shared more fascinating things like hitchhiker’s thumbs on my food blog. But it is a little surprising that I still have some culinary things I haven’t shared. Like the fact that I love honey. Did you know that? I love honey. It is one of my very favorite things in the whole world. I use it in marinades and in salad dressings and I stir it into Greek yogurt for breakfast. I have been known to sneak spoonfuls of it when I am craving something sweet.
Living in a city where there are loads of farmers’ markets, it is easy for me to buy good honey. Over the years, I have tasted some wonderful honey from Washington bees. So when the good people at Mohawk Valley Trading Company offered to send some of theirs to try, I hesitated. But the truth is, I was low on honey and the stuff isn’t cheap so I so I replied yes to their offer.
Not a week later, I got a box with four different jars of the most beautiful tawny-colored honey. Not only is it beautiful, the flavor is so different than any honey I have tasted. It is thicker, richer and more floral than anything I have ever used. It seems a shame to put it in things where the amazing flavor gets masked by other ingredients. I wanted to make something that would take advantage of the unique flavor and texture of this special honey. (And yes, honey can have texture. You know how you put a spoon in a jar and the honey almost immediately runs off? This stuff really coats your spoon. You have to coax it off.)
These mini bundt cakes were one of the first things I noticed in the first Ottolenghi cookbook. I had seen a display of the adorable cakes in the window of the restaurant while in London in June. Is there anything more tempting than a little cake sized perfectly for one? For some reason I would totally buy one of these but not a slice of a large cake. Anyway. In the recipe, Ottolenghi mentions that the pans are not easy to find in England but we Americans can find them more easily. (See? Americans don’t like everything super-sized.) I found mine in a local kitchen shop and I would imagine they can be tracked down online.
I was a little stumped as to how best to make these. I needed about 20 of them and there are only 12 cakes in the molds. I didn’t want to bake a whole batch, allow the molds to cool, and then bake another batch. I have another larger mini-bundt pan mold so I doubled the recipe and just hoped for the best. I ended up getting all my mini-bundts, a whole tray of mini-muffin size cakes and a small loaf cake. The bundts got eaten at the party, the boys snacked on my mini-muffins, and the loaf cake is in the freezer.
I don’t know if I have ever written a paragraph quite as boring as that one. What I am trying to tell you is that if you make the recipe as written below, I have no idea of how many cakes you will end up with. Just get out all your fun sized pans and go for it. Whatever you end up with will be the most delicately flavored but substantially textured cake. If you leave it plain, it is perfect for an afternoon tea or even for breakfast. Or you can dress it up with a drizzle of glaze and some lovely berries and call it dessert.
And speaking of dessert, my blog duty at Amazon Fresh has started back up again. This week I posted a recipe for a very delicious and very easy cheesecake ice cream. You can read it here.
Lavender and Honey Tea Cakes
Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces sugar
4 ounces best quality honey
3 large eggs
8 2/3 ounces flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. dried lavender, chopped
½ cup sour cream
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
3½ oz. powdered sugar
Berries for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 340ºF. Grease your pans with butter.
Cream the butter, sugar, and honey together until pale and fluffy, preferably using an electric mixer. Break the eggs into a cup, beat them lightly with a fork and gradually add to the creamed mixture, beating well until each little addition has been fully incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, then stir in the dried lavender. Gently fold the flour mixture into the creamed mix in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream.
Carefully fill your molds or pans. If you are using molds, only the fill them to within a ½-inch of the top. Place in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, depending on what size pan or molds you are using. You will want a skewerer inserted into the center of the cake to come out clean. Remove them from the oven and leave them for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze, mix the lemon juice and honey together in a small bowl, then whisk in enough powdered sugar to make a thick pourable glaze. Use a pastry brush or a spoon to coat the top of the cakes, allowing the icing to drip down the sides. Garnish with berries, if desired.
(DT: Even though I was careful about not overfilling my pans, I still got a rounded bottom on my small cakes. I just sliced off a thin bit so they would stand up straight.)