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  • Writer's pictureLara Kinsey

#GRBO Honey Moon Cake

For the Great Romance BakeOff, I made a yeasted honey cake glazed with apricot jam, pounded almond and orange flower frosting, and honeycomb.

Anyone who has read Rose Lerner's A Taste of Honey knows exactly what that sneaky mortar and pestle is doing in the background. If you enjoyed that scene, I recommend my new book, Hammer & Tongs, for a similar exchange (but with metal and petrolatum instead of marble and butter).

Because the book is set in 1813, I wanted to avoid chemical leavening. I live in France, so it was easy to find brioche yeast at my local grocery store. I subbed that in for the instant yeast that Deb called for. Brioche yeast plays well with a little fat, and I was concerned about the butter in the batter deflating standard yeast. I also added a quarter cup of honey to her recipe. Miel de Montagne is a very strongly flavored honey. Even so, it was a barely sweet cake and noticeably yeasty. The texture was wonderful, very tender and plush.

I took notes on AToH, and there were so many flavors I could have used. Peaches and brandy. Pistachios. Lemon custard pie. Brown bread ice cream. But I wanted something to play with the floral notes in my honey. Betsy and Robert pound some almonds with orange flower water at one point, which is a very traditional way of making marzipan. I used that as the base of my buttercream, sweetened with honey, and I also added some almond extract, which here is a glucose suspension rather than the alcohol base you'd find in the states. It was a lovely frosting, floral and fragrant, but the cake was the stunningly easy part. If I had to do it again, I'd mix the almond extract into some whipped cream and serve the cake naked, with some fresh fruit. That seems rather in the spirit of our MCs.

Yeasted Cake, modified from Deb Perelman's Bee Sting Cake

1 1/4-ounce package Brioche yeast

3/4 cup whole milk, ideally at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 cups all-purpose flour (226 g of type 45, if you are also in France)

3/4 teaspoon table salt

2 large eggs, ideally at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive, then stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this with the paddle attachment (no dough hook needed; batter is thin) at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides, cover, and let rise in a draft-free place for 60 minutes, till it’s a little puffy. (It won’t fully double; this is fine.)

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. I used a springform lined with a parchment circle. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and nudge it until it fills the bottom. Cover again with plastic wrap (don’t let it drape in and touch the top) and set aside for another 40 minutes.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake, making sure no places are stuck and invert the cake onto the cooling rack. If you're glazing the cake, microwave a few spoonfuls of jam and brush it on while the cake is still warm.


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