I am constantly reminded and surprised by how much can change within a year, how we morph as we grow, yet we always feel “the same” until we actually take the time to look back. It feels the same way with seasons, too. Right now there is so much snow on the ground (about 3 feet, we think – it’s hard to tell with the gigantic 5+ foot drifts) and we *unthoughtfully* swear “we have never EVER seen this much snow before”, but would be reminded otherwise once we looked back about 10 years. Each year it feels that summer will never get here, and then when it finally does and it is the same rainy, humid summer, it feels as though we have never seen snow and are delighted the first day it falls. I really quite like this, though, that although humans are typically in the state of mind of always needing something new, we can feel excited by the changing of seasons that has happened since the beginning of everything.
This week both dragged on and flew by. Do you ever feel that way? Earlier in the week, when we had our Heritage Day holiday and were snowed in for two days, those days dragged on and on and on. Once we were finally able to leave the house, the rest of the week went by in a flash. I had intentions on many of those days to post this recipe. Instead, I made it again to provide you with a superior version and was delighted when I woke up to a muted grey sky, the most perfect source of light for photography.
I think that this cake is perfect for the season that we’re currently drifting through – cold, wet, rainy, but with the promise of spring. It is light, fluffy, the most perfect accompaniment to a hot tea or coffee for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Equally, this cake would be a beautiful end to a meal as it will not leave you feeling heavy as it is served with a softly whipped cream.
The majority of the honey cakes that I looked up were loaded with both honey and sugar and as with most cakes, they were made only with all purpose flour. If you pay attention to this blog, you’ve definitely taken note that I almost never use just one kind of flour, as I am a fan of the hearty crumb and nutty flavour that whole grain flours bring to a recipe. As well, I have reduced both the honey and sugar content in the cake by a large amount and honestly I cannot imagine this cake made another way. It is satisfying for sweet-tooths and those with a lack of. Topped with thinly sliced ripe pears and an extra sprinkle of sugar, the topping is both brightly acidic and sweet as well.
The recipe I’ve listed makes two large 6 inch cakes. The cake will freeze beautifully, so you can hide one away for a special occasion.
The honey I used was a locally made honey with “free range” bees and has a really beautiful flavour. A lot of big-name store bought honey’s aren’t the real deal, so if you can track down some good quality honey, it is definitely worth the money. A little of a good thing goes a long way!
To make the pear topping as I did, cut the pear in three ways length ways and slice it thinly. Point the pointier end inward toward the center and continue around the cake with the pieces facing the same direction. Obviously, this is just for aesthetic, and it doesn’t really matter how the pears are arranged, so long as they’re not all on top of each other.
If you aren’t using spelt flour and are going to substitute whole wheat, I would reduce it to 1/2 cup and increase the all purpose to 2 cups. As a result, you may have to adjust the buttermilk measurement (I would assume a slight increase by a couple tablespoons should do the trick).
- 1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup spelt flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3-finger pinch cardamom
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (can sub with more butter)
- 3 tbsp cane sugar
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp good honey
- 1 tsp bourbon-vanilla extract (or regular vanilla extract)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (may need a couple tablespoons more, depending on your flour)
- 1-2 small pears, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake tins and set aside. Prepare your pears and place in a small bowl with a touch of lemon juice to prevent browning.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine your flours, baking powder & soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, coconut oil and sugar until homogeneous. Beat in honey until mixed thoroughly. On speed 2, add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, mixing in each egg completely. At this point, with your mixer on the stir speed, add in about half of your flour and mix until almost completely before adding half of your buttermilk. Repeat this again. The mixture should be thick, but pourable. If it feels too thick, add a couple tablespoons more buttermilk to achieve this texture.
4. Divide batter evenly in cake tins and top with pear slices as directed above. Bake in oven for 50 minutes to an hour, until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and the peak of the cake is springy when poked. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when the cake is fully cooked. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and cool until just barely warm before serving. Alternatively, cool the cakes completely and freeze until another day!
The cakes will keep best at room temperature for a few days.