Some of the recipes on my blog have a story behind them, like Banoo's baklava cake or miso ginger sweet potato soup. Others are family recipes: my mom's chocolate chip cookies, my great-grandmother's apple streusel, and the pumpkin pie that graces our Thanksgiving table.
This is not one of those recipes. This particular baking project was inspired by the fact that we have a burgeoning honey collection in our pantry that I wanted to use up. We get two jars of it from our CSA each year, which is great, but I don't really use honey for much besides a teaspoon here and there in coconut curry tofu and jalapeno tofu steaks. Lately I've started eating a tablespoon of honey just before a run if I'm feeling sluggish, which probably is not the best version of sports nutrition but tastes pretty darn good.
Something about the idea of baking a honey cake appealed to me even more than eating honey by the spoonful, so I settled on this recipe from King Arthur Flour because it uses up a whopping cup of the stuff. The original recipe calls for almonds. I substituted walnuts because that's what I had on hand, and the whole purpose of this scheme was to eat down the contents of my pantry.
Although it lacks a sentimental backstory, this is a truly lovely cake. Over half of the flour is whole wheat, which gives the cake a satisfying heartiness that plays up the walnuts. Texturally, it's more akin to cornbread than a traditional layer or sheet cake, but that worked for me. It's not overly sweet, and you could easily serve it for breakfast or as a coffee cake.
I think the cake is at its best fresh from the oven. Don't bother letting it cool completely—dig in as soon as you turn it out of the pan. I found the leftovers a bit on the dry side, but a brief zap in the microwave helps. The cake also freezes well. Simply slide it into a plastic freezer bag, and then carve a slice from the frozen cake and microwave it for 30 seconds.
Per the original recipe, I baked the cake for 50 minutes and it did get a little tough on the outside. I probably could have pulled from the oven a bit sooner, so I recommend checking it at the 45 minute mark.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 9-inch cake
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup honey
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup light sour cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Thoroughly grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Evenly sprinkle about 3/4 of the walnuts in the bottom of the pan.
In a medium bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, and salt with a spoon until evenly distributed.
In a large bowl, mix the butter, honey, and eggs with an electric hand mixer on low speed until smooth. Stir in the flour with a spoon and mix with the hand mixer on low speed until smooth. Add the sour cream and mix with the hand mixer on low speed until evenly incorporated. Fold in the remaining walnuts with a spoon until evenly distributed.
Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth to an even thickness with a spoon or spatula.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake edge is starting to pull away from the pan and a cake tester or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn onto serving plate. Cake is best served warm.
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