Hello and welcome to my first part is this series of baking my way through Claire Saffitz’s “Dessert Person”. I will be cooking every recipe in order, slowly making my way through in one year. The first recipe in the book is Spice Honey and Rye Cake. Claire made this easy for me with the simple, warm, and absolutely delicious recipe. Let’s get into it!
Looking at the recipe all the ingredients are pretty common household items that you would have on hand at all times. I did go out to purchase rye flour, Diamond salt, all spice, and honey. Why? Even as a baker I don’t do much baking with rye flour, but apparently every other alternative flour according to my cabinet! As for the other items Claire recommends Diamond salt (a coarser grain) over Morton’s salt because of the structure and flavor, so for the sake of the recipe, I went out and got some! Honey, we ALWAYs have it in the house because my husband is a tea and country man and likes him some high quality honey. Let me reenact our conversation:
Wife: Hey honey, I need some honey for my next recipe, can I use yours?
Husband: Sure, how much?
Wife: *Double Checks Recipe* Oh, just a half a cup.
Husband: *looks at appalled* No, you are getting your own honey, you are not wasting my honey on your baking.
Wife: But! Claire says I need the best honey and you have good honey.
Husband: Well if you need the best you can have someone else’s.
We then proceed to go to the store to get honey. I would be curious to try whipped honey. We have a local apiary that makes whipped honey. I would be interested to see how the texture of this honey would change the recipe and flavor. With all the appropriate ingredients it is time to get to work! I set up my Mise-en-Place meaning “everything in place”. I premeasure, brought items up to room temp, lined my pan, and preheated my oven. This is something I don’t usually do but BOY OH does it make a difference. Cooking is effortless! This is a practice that I try to place in my daily cooking, but we all know that midweek struggle.
Claire starts off the recipe with a little note about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Traditionally, Jews partake in apples dipped in honey to symbolize hope for a sweet year ahead. She talks about how every year Jews must endure the dry honey cake, but having cracked the code with the moist and sweet cake. This personal note sent me back to my college days with my Jewish roommate. Every year we’d embrace our different holidays as one, drawing inspiration, and learning about each others traditions. Honestly, some of my favorite memories in college. To this day we still get together time to time to celebrate in our old college ways. I fully intend to deliver this loaf to her next Rosh Hashanah. Even better than that! We can make it together, making sweet memories for another year.
Blending the ingredients is the easiest part, but before you get to that part you have to slowly stream the oil into the wet ingredients. I, for the life of me, always take so long on this step. Be it because I am an inexperienced chef, moving too slow, or maybe just maybe doing it right (I doubt that). From the moment I start pouring the oil in, ten minutes will pass before I am done! Knowing this, I will in the future start a timer for while I am cooking. In the beginning of the book Claire has laid out in her Recipe Matrix how long everything should take. The Spiced Honey and Rye cake should only take an hour and half, did it take me that long? I have no idea.
All the ingredients are well combined and it is a dense mixture, typically loaf cake consistency. I pop it into my preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes which is plenty of time to kick-back and relax with a glass of wine while the sweet smell of spices fill my house. It took my cake exactly 53 minutes. With the cake cooling, my husband started brewing the coffee. He has been hovering since the moment I stepped foot in the kitchen, almost as bad as my puppy. Slicing into the cake and drizzling it with honey make it look so luxurious and ooey gooey good.
My final thoughts before I dig in with coffee in hand is: I think I need fresh baking power my load is a little stout in comparison and Claire I need you to put a book mark in your book next time! This warm spice cake is perfect for any time of day and that’s how I fully intend on spending the rest of mine, eating cake! I believe I am one step closer to becoming a true Dessert Person.
Next recipe for Baking with Confidence is Almond Butter Banana Bread.
Check out my video series to go along with the blog!