I can’t think of a better way to go out in 2017 than with a slice of cake. Eating sweet would signify a sweet year ahead, but since I’m on a hiatus from the frosted, tiered extravagant stuff for a bit, something different will have to do, and this cake is excellent.
Bearing some resemblance to a Lekach, the traditional Jewish honey cake made for Rosh Hashanah, this cake is made with a combination of milled wheat flour/Atta, almond meal and good quality honey of course. A dense honey cake needn’t be too sweet, nor does it need a terribly sweet glaze on top, and by taking a page from Gill Meller’s amazing book Gather, I worked coriander seeds into both cake and glaze to cut through the sweetness.
It works like magic-just the aroma of coriander seeds, orange juice and honey smells like they were always meant to be together. Once baked and drenched in golden sticky syrup and left overnight, you’ll come back to a cake that tastes spectacular, almost as if the cake was maturing or getting better with age. Be warned though, this cake is still quite heavy, and falls under the more celebratory cakes you make this time of the year. A slice of this with bitter coffee would be heavenly right about now.
Note: Be careful not to overwork the flour mixture here and gently fold by hand rather than with an electric mixer towards the end. You cannot substitute ground coriander powder for freshly toasted and ground coriander seeds. It’s just not the same.
Honey Cake With Orange and Coriander Seeds
Yield 1 8-inch cake
Similar to the Jewish cake Lekach signifying the beginning of the new year, this playful variation is sticky, dense and fragrant with coriander seeds.
Butter 275g, room temperature
Caster sugar 250g
Honey 4 tbsp
Orange 1 zested
Coriander Seeds 2 tsp, toasted till fragrant while being careful not to burn it, and ground to a powder
Whole Wheat flour/Atta 150g
Salt a large pinch
Baking powder 2 tsp
Almond meal 150g (for this recipe, I don’t bother with taking off the skins but you can if you have the time)
Honey 4 tbsp
Coriander seeds 2 tsp, toasted till fragrant while being careful not to burn it, and ground to a powder
Orange 1 juiced
Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan.
Whisk together the flour and the baking powder together and set aside.
Take a metal bowl out and start by creaming just the butter till it is pale and creamy. To this, add the sugar, honey, orange zest and coriander seed powder and beat on a medium speed till it feels light and fluffy.
Next, crack in the first of four eggs with a spoonful of the flour mixture and beat till well combined, doing this till all the eggs are used up. Switching to a metal spoon, add in the rest of the flour and fold it in gently being careful not to lose out any of that heft from beating. Finally add the almond meal and stir once.
Stop and scrape the cake mixture into the cake pan smoothening the top with your hand or a spatula. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Since the cake has almond flour, it has a tendency to brown quickly so 15-20 minutes into cooking, you might want to cover the top of the cake with aluminium foil to prevent it getting too brown.
When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it stand by itself still in the tin. Stir all the ingredients of the syrup together in a pan and place over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or till slightly reduced. Pour this over the still hot cake and let the syrup slowly be absorbed for at least 30 minutes before turning the cake out carefully and letting it come to room temperature.