Ever since I heard about lemon honey, I’ve been thinking about making a honey cake with a lemony twist. It’s a little odd, really, since the only honey cake I’d ever eaten before now was served by elderly relatives, sliced from a packaged cake about 2 inches square and dry as dust. Surely I could come up with something better than that?
Foodie Pages, a Canadian online farmers market, has joined forces with Food Bloggers of Canada to challenge bloggers (details here) to develop a recipe inspired by one item in a Tasting Box, which is a selection of five exciting food finds from Canada’s food producers, farmers and artisans. As you may have guessed, what caught my attention was a jar of lemon honey (produced by Heavenly Honey in Ottawa). There was no requirement to purchase or use the product in my recipe, simply to draw inspiration from it. I knew that lemon honey had me mighty inspired when I couldn’t shake the idea of a lemon honey cake. So, I gave in.
I did some research and found many variations on honey cakes, learning they’re a Jewish tradition at Rosh Hashanah, the new year. Most had a variety of spices and otherwise longish ingredient lists, but I wanted to keep it simple so the lemon and honey could shine. A fellow blogger, Nick of Frugal Feeding from across the pond, had featured a honey cake in February that inspired me with its simplicity so I adapted it for my recipe. (If you haven’t visited Frugal Feeding yet, slice some cake, make yourself a cuppa’ and settle in for a treat.)
While the lemon in this cake is an important flavour element, it’s the honey that’s in the lead role. I used a local buckwheat honey, produced by Dave’s Apiaries here in London. Buckwheat honey is dark amber and looks almost black in the jar. Its consistency is thinner than the golden honey I usually have with my toast, and the taste — oh my. It’s intense, with the essence of a lightly burnt caramel and a hint of a bitter edge. Talk about character. One taste and you’re drawn back for more. I knew right away that I wanted to feature it in my cake.
A photo of a jar of lemon honey, a recipe I saw a few months ago and the discovery of a unique local honey: talk about layers of inspiration sparking the creation of a new recipe. And what about that cake? Don’t be fooled by its unassuming appearance. Moist, yet light, with the sticky glaze imparting toothsomeness to the crust: it’s a winner in the texture department. But when it comes to flavour, it’s Olympian. There’s no cloying sweetness; in fact, that aspect is quite subdued. The intriguing taste of the buckwheat honey comes through first, followed by lemony tang and then an undertone of butteriness. It’s a cake that calls for a cup of tea or coffee, to be enjoyed with quiet conversation or a good book. A homey, lovely cake. One I wish I could share with that dear aunt and uncle who I’m sure would ask for seconds.
DISCLAIMER: I am not being compensated for this post. I developed the recipe to be eligible to win a free three-month subscription to the Foodie Pages Tasting Box plus a $100 gift card. A requirement is that my blog post mention the Tasting Box and link to the Food Bloggers of Canada post about the contest (see above). The winning entrant will be chosen by random draw. I have no association with Dave’s Apiaries beyond having bought a jar of their honey at a retailer this week, and to the best of my knowledge they’ve never heard of me (yet).
Lemon Buckwheat Honey Cake
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour an 8″ round cake pan; line the bottom parchment paper and butter that.
- 1/2 cup buckwheat honey
- 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp lemon zest (from one small lemon)
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-1/4 cup flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-1/2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp buckwheat honey
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp hot water
For the cake, melt the honey, butter and brown sugar in a pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let cool somewhat, then stir in the egg. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Add the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Set on a cooling rack and poke holes around the top of the cake with a toothpick.
For the glaze, stir all ingredients together into a small bowl, then pour over the cake a few minutes after it’s come out of the oven.
Let the cake cool in the pan, then run a knife or spatula around the outside to ensure it’s loose. Carefully turn it out onto a rack and then gingerly lift it right away onto the serving plate. The top is sticky from the glaze, so take care not to pull any pieces off (voice of experience here).