Our friend Jennifer Barrie has been almost as busy as her bees.
This is the first year that she’s had success: her hives holding frame after frame of cured-and-capped honey. Fortitude and backbone are beekeeper requirements. It takes a full cycle of the seasons–sometimes longer— for a colony to build a large enough population to create a honey surplus, fit for harvest.
Time and weather, pollen and patience all worked in Jen’s favor. She’s extracted copious quarts of light amber honey from her backyard hives–enough to sell.
I was excited to purchase a jar, and couldn’t wait to taste it: the closest to home honey I’ve ever had.
What a revelation! There was a flower garden in that spoonful of honey.
I swirled some into plain Greek yogurt.
Bill and I slathered more onto thick slices of toasted sourdough, letting it seep into that hole-riddled bread.
Next, I wanted to cook with it, bake it into a simple cake to highlight its floral sweetness.
What I came up with was a humble one-layer cake.
It incorporates the honey with restraint.
Caramel-browned butter deepens that flavor.
Fresh thyme leaves add an herbal undercurrent that seems right with Jen’s floral-forward nectar.
Not-too-sweet, it’s the sort of cake that you’d enjoy with a cup of hot tea or coffee.
Although you’d be proud to serve it to guests, sidled by a scoop of ice cream
I’m thinking Strawberry, Orange, French Vanilla,
or fresh fruit.
such as Peaches, a scatter of Blueberries,
I could have left the cake plain, or brushed it with a glaze of citrus and honey.
Instead, I whipped up a basic frosting–just butter, cream cheese, and honey. I split the single baked layer after it cooled, and spread it over the moist and fragrant crumb. I finished it with a top coat, strewn with pistachios.
Jen told me that she’s just extracted a new batch. This time, it is deep yellow-gold in color. It all depends on what is blooming in the summer cycle. I’m anxious to sample this honey, and compare the differences in taste.
Meanwhile, a piece of delectable, very local honey cake awaits—I’d love it if you’d stop by for a slice.
BROWN BUTTER HONEY CAKE
1 cup Brown Butter (slowly cook butter in a skillet on medium heat, occasionally stirring, until solids becomes toasty brown)
1 T. fresh Thyme leaves
1 cup Honey
2 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
1 cup Milk
Juice from 1 Lemon (about 2 T.)
1 T. Vanilla
equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, 9″ cake pan
Toss thyme leaves into warm brown butter.
Sift flour, baking powder, soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.
Place lemon juice and vanilla into the cup of milk and stir. Let it stand and lightly thicken/curdle.
When butter is cooled, pour it into a mixing bowl and beat in the honey.
Beat in milk mixture.
Beat in flour mixture.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Pour batter into prepared 9″ cake pan. (bottom lined with parchment, sides and bottom coated with baking spray)
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.
HONEY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
4 oz. (1 stick) Butter, softened
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
3-4 T. Honey
1/2 cup Pistachios–coarsely chopped to garnish
Beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
Beat in the honey, one tablespoon at a time. Mixture will be creamy smooth, and somewhat fluffy.
Spread onto split layer and top. Garnish with chopped pistachios.