First, let me just say that we’re not big on terms of endearment in our house. We don’t call each other Sweetheart or Babycakes or Darlin’. Or, god forbid, Lover (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little). Sometimes I’ll call my husband stinky, but that’s mostly a descriptor and not so much a term of endearment.
But today’s his birthday, so I’m throwing caution to the wind.
Honey, this cake’s for you.
Happy Birthday, Loverboy.
I married a man whose ideal dessert is yellow cake with white icing, so sometimes I like to change things up a bit in the flavor department. This year’s cake is a variation on a basic buttermilk cake, but it uses honey granules in place of granulated sugar, and raw honey and honey granules in the cream cheese frosting. It’s a honey cake. For my honey.
I think what I like most about honey is that it has a sort of savory quality. It’s sweet, but also a little salty. Or musky. Or earthy. Or something. It has a complex flavor profile is what I’m getting at. It works well in this cake, playing against the sour tang of the buttermilk and the cream cheese, and adding a slightly salty note to the whole thing. It’s almost like a salted caramel, without the caramel or the salt.
It’s tasty, and I think you’ll like it.
Honey Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
prep time: 30 minutes (total, cake and frosting)
bake time: 25 minutes
yields: 2 eight or nine-inch layers
- 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 1/3 cups powdered honey granules
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2 1/3 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour (I used freshly milled here)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon real salt
- 1 cup cultured buttermilk
- 1/2 cup raw honey honey
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 16 oz. cream cheese
- 4 oz. butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups powdered honey granules
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans
- Sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat 3/4 cups room temperature butter on high speed until light and fluffy
- Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of honey granules, beating on high speed for 3-5 minutes
- Beat the eggs together and slowly add, taking about 2 minutes
- Add 1/2 a scraped vanilla bean and mix to incorporate.
- Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts – begin and end with flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes (mine were actually quite dark at the 24 minute mark).
- While cake is baking: combine 1/2 cup honey and scraped vanilla bean in a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of water and stir to combine. Heat over low heat until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Remove cake layers from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5-1o minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
- Brush the tops of your cake layers with honey/vanilla mixture. Reserve the remainder to add to the frosting.
- For the frosting: place the cream cheese and 4 oz. of butter in the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
- On medium speed, slowly add the honey/vanilla mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
- Add powdered honey granules with mixer running. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
- Frost cake layers as desired.