Friday, January 15, 2010
Whole Wheat Honey Cake
It’s back to basics. Although I’ve been reading various predictions about the latest food trends for the coming year, lately I’ve been more in the mood to keep things pretty basic. It’s been great to see a resurgence of wholesome ingredients over the last decade and I think as we begin a new one, it would be especially nice to start off with a rather simple but extraordinary Whole Wheat Cake. And in keeping with the theme, I’ve sweetened it with honey. Nothing could be more simply satisfying.
Whole wheat pastries of the past have often suffered from being too dense or dry, but I think recipe development using whole wheat flours has improved dramatically. For this cake, I use King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for its superb flavor and easy availability. It’s milled from the hard red spring wheat of the northern Great Plains and uses 100% of the wheat berry, which provides the full flavor and nutrients of the bran and germ. I think it’s the best of its kind out there and I highly recommend it.
I also use honey to sweeten the cake. There are over 300 types of honey produced in the United States and it’s a great pleasure to explore so many distinctive varieties. One of my favorite indulgences is sourwood honey, which is widely regarded as the queen bee of honey. Tupelo, lavender, sage and eucalyptus are also favorites. Use your own favorite in this recipe.
If you’re in the mood to return back to the basics, I think you’ll find this pastry a beautiful reminder of the delicious goodness of quality whole wheat flour.
- I think this cake is very nice on its own. Once you try it, you’ll find it could also serve as a great basic palette for other natural complements. I think it would be really delicious with a fresh blackberry coulis or fresh fig compote in spring and summer or sautéed apples or pears or bananas in winter. You can top with sliced almonds for extra texture or add a pinch of spice to the batter. But do try it plain to see how it strikes you.
- The ground wheat germ in whole wheat flour contains oil that can become rancid over a long period of time. Whole wheat flour will keep 1 to 3 months at room temperature. For longer storage, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag in your refrigerator. It will maintain good quality for about 6 months in the refrigerator and up to 12 months in the freezer. If you place it in the freezer, be sure to bring it to room temperature before using it. The very cold temperature of frozen flour will discourage the baking properties of yeast or baking powder.
Whole Wheat Honey Cake
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C honey
1 t vanilla
2 eggs @ room temperature
1/2 C buttermilk @ room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8” x 2 ” cake pan.
Sift flours, baking powder and salt together.
Cream butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add honey and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and blend.
Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Add a third of the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl to be sure everything is incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even surface with a spatula.
Bake for about 35-37 minutes until a toothpick tests clean. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cake. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Invert cake, turn right side up and place on the rack until completely cool.
1/4 C honey
2 T water
1/2 T butter
1 C confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 T fresh lemon juice, to taste
Place the honey, water and salt in a saucepan and warm over low heat until dissolved and blended. Whisk in the butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the confectioner’s sugar. Add lemon juice to taste. Place cake on platter and top with the glaze.