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Evelyn Schiff’s Honey Cake

These are the recipes I love best, the handed-down ones. When my boss’s mother passed away this past summer, he was left with the daunting task of clearing out her home. Amongst the many papers, he came across was the recipe for his mother’s honey cake on a scrap piece of paper. On the note, you see who she received the recipe from and the calculations she herself had made. The feeling of nostalgia while making this cake is lovely. Not only is it an old fashioned recipe, jam-packed with memories, above all else it is delicious.

Honey cakes are tricky to make, they tend to explode in the oven, dip in the middle or dry out easily – or all three at once (which has happened to me on more than one occasion!) some tips and tricks:

Do not overfill your tin. Fill your tin about halfway and don’t be tempted to add just a little more, if you have extra batter make muffins, rather than overfilling your tin, this will help the cake from dipping in the middle too much.
Cook the cake low and slow, to prevent explosions! Keep the cakes at an even lower temperature for the best results.
Take out the cake just a few minutes before you think it is ready. Test the cake, by piercing the center with a knife, you want some crumbs adhering to the knife. But if all else fails and the cake is dry, serve it with custard or the sauce from roasted pears or apples – and all will be forgiven!

2 teaspoons instant coffee
120g (½ cup) just-boiled water
425g (1 ¼ cup) honey
220g (1 cup) oil
250g (1 ¼ cup) dark brown sugar
4 eggs
500g (4 cups) self-raising flour*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

*If you don’t have self-raising flour substitute for 500g (4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour plus, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 teaspoons baking soda.

  1. Heat oven to 160℃ (325℉) Line 2 medium loaf tins with baking paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine the coffee and water and mix well. Add the coffee water mixture to a medium bowl along with the honey, oil, and sugar, mix until combined, add the eggs and mix well.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well, until no lumps remain in the mixture and all the flour has been incorporated.
  4. Divide the mixture between the two loaf tins, and bake until deep brown and just a few crumbs stick to a knife when pierced. Between 45-75 minutes depending on the size of the loaf tin.
  5. The honey cake can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, keep well wrapped at room temperature.

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