Friday, 29 June 2007

British Honey

I accept it as a universal truth that there should be a place for honey on everyone's shelves. I love the consistency of honey - there is something decadent about how you have to wait for it to fall from the serving spoon - the smell, the golden color, and of course, the taste. I love how you can genuinely taste the difference between different types of honey, and can try to grasp the scent of the flowers that gave you this treat.

I am appalled (yes, outraged and appalled) at how supermarkets fall down when it comes to stocking British honey. There are certainly bees and flowers enough in the country. Heck, it was bees brought over from European settlers of Jamestown that have been credited with shaping the fruit and farming profile of the United States. But most of the honeys on sale are from places more exotic than the UK: Australia, Spain, Greece (although even those are often an amalgam of honeys gathered from around the world, as it says on the label). I have been on the hunt for honey manufactured within the UK in many supermarkets, and I've only consistently found one brand: Duchy Originals.

Friends of ours recently came back from a trip to Norfolk, and they've given us a little pot of gold: locally produced honey. It is, as you'd expect, lovely stuff. Lovely enough to prompt a bit of baking to celebrate our gift. The result was an amazingly moist cake, as if it were thoroughly bathed in a perfect, buttery sweetness. I had 3 slices.

Honey lemon cake (adapted from Nigel Slater's demerara lemon cake)
Oven at 160 C, for about 45 minutes


  • 200 g butter
  • 200 g demerara sugar
  • 90 g flour
  • 90 g ground almond
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large lemon, zested
  • 4 large eggs
For the syrup:
  • 2 Tbsp runny honey
  • 1 Tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  1. Pre-heat the over and line a loaf-shaped tin with parchment paper
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy (best done with a mixer)
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, amlonds, baking powder)
  4. Add the zest of the lemon to the dry ingredients
  5. Lightly beat all 4 eggs, and then add this to the butter and sugar mixture a bit at a time, beating all the while (Nigel says the mixture will probably curdle but you're not to worry)
  6. When done adding the eggs, fold in the flour mixture (Nigel stipulates this should be done with a large metal spoon rather than wooden, so it doesn't knock the air out)
  7. Scoop the mixture into the tin and bake for around 45 minutes until it's golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. When baked, combine the syrup ingredients. The sugar won't fully dissolve.
  9. Poke holes in to the top of the cake (use a skewer so you can get right down to the bottom) and spoon the syrup over the top.
  10. Leave to cool.

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