Thursday, December 15, 2011

Honey and spice and everything nice in lovely cake

I latched onto the name of the recipe immediately when I saw it in Saveur magazine: Honey-Spice Cake.
   I come from a Ukrainian heritage, and honey is used a lot in Ukrainian cakes and cookies.
   I remember my mom telling me about how her grandmother always used to make honey cookies and how delicious they were. They also kept for a long time without refrigeration.
   The recipe looked very promising, with savory cookie spices worthy of the best gingerbread along with a touch of Grand Marnier, so I gave it a whirl.
   I wasn’t disappointed. This is an amazing cake – moist and flavorful. I think my mother’s family would definitely approve of it.
   The cake will keep well for a few days if left in a cake saver and sliced as needed, but I found it tasted best on the day it was made. It was extra moist, with the orange flavor more prominent (but definitely not annoying).
   The cake would make a lovely dessert for a holiday supper.
   The recipe calls for a four-quart Bundt pan, which is a 16-cup Bundt pan. I didn’t calculate this at first, and so used a 12-quart Bundt pan to bake the cake.
   Although the cake was fine and didn’t spill over while baking – barely – I don’t recommend using a 12-cup pan. Use the 16 and don’t worry about overflow.
   The cake was very easy to make.
   Flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt are mixed together in a bowl.
   Sugar, egg yolks (six!), oil, honey, orange juice, orange zest (finely-grated orange peel) and Grand Marnier are mixed together, then the dry ingredients are added and everything is stirred until just combined.
   The egg whites are beaten with sugar until stiff peaks form (lift the beaters upwards and see if peaks form in the whites), and the whites are then folded into the batter.
   The recipe says to bake the cake for 60 minutes, but I baked it for about 53 minutes. It started to smell as if it was burning, so I took it out. This could have been because I used a smaller pan size than called for.
   The cake is cooled (I let it cool for about 15 minutes), then inverted on a serving plate. I let the cake cool completely at this point, then I made the glaze of orange juice and confectioners’ sugar (icing or powdered sugar) and drizzled it over the cake. It takes about 30 minutes for the glaze to set.

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