April 14, 2017

Bake America Honey Cake Again

I know it has been awhile, but I promise I’ve been baking. Mostly other people’s recipes, cookies, things like that. And here’s what I’ve learned. Well, not really learned, as I suspected it, but confirmed.

Baking brings people together. Baking builds community. Not joking or overstating things here.

Like, the town assessor came to my house because we’re almost done building it, and when he walked in he told me how much he loves my cookies. I’d never met the town assessor. I had brought cookies in to the town clerk’s office after the newspaper ran an article I thought might have upset them… also after the election as a thank you… and maybe the day the new town clerk started. But I had never brought cookies to the town assessor. Yet, he had eaten my cookies because the clerks like to share and remembered them and when he came to assess my house, we were already community.

When I’m sitting at a school board meeting and things are complicated as things often are in matters of governance, it makes me so happy to see members of the public or employees of the district or other board members reaching out and snagging a cookie. Baking builds community. It has built community with the guys building my house and my neighbors and oh my stars the school secretaries duck and cover when they see me coming.

Now it is Passover, the holiday where baking comes to die. For reasons I can’t quite figure out I bombed two desserts for the Seder and had to send a frantic text to a friend who rescued me with a flourless chocolate cake recipe. One of the desserts I had already made twice before, but because it was Passover, somehow it didn’t work this time. It’s like bringing your car in for a sound it’s making but it won’t do it in the shop. Same concept.

I’ve not kept Passover much in the last couple of decades. Too hard, too complicated, maybe I’ll just eat oatmeal and not have pasta. But, Zachary is twelve and he’s keeping Passover, so there you are. If your kid is keeping, you sort of have to, as well. And you know what? Keeping Passover is actually not that complicated if you bake.

I have a recipe for you, but first, let me start with a word of warning: quinoa flour tastes like quinoa. There’s pretty much no way around that. Don’t go trying to make a cake with quinoa flour and thinking you can mask the taste. You just can’t. Trust me on this one.

Now, on to the recipe. Well, wait, one more digression. Yesterday, I dropped Benjamin’s friend off at his house and ended up talking to the mom for like 45 minutes while the boys were catching various slimy creatures because they are in fifth grade and it’s mud season. And I noticed they had about 30 containers of honey on the counter. If you’re ever making a new friend and they have like 30 containers of honey out, it behooves you to say something because who has 30 containers of honey? People who keep a year of food storage, that’s who. But the honey had turned and needed to be used up and YES THANK YOU I’LL TAKE SOME HONEY OFF YOUR HANDS.

OK, now the recipe, which has honey in it and—after the first attempt—no quinoa flour:

5 eggs, separated

1 ½ sticks butter, melted (might try it with only 1 stick next time)

½ cup sugar

½ cup honey

¾ tsp. vanilla

3 or 4 tablespoons buttermilk or coffee

1 cup coconut flour

½ cup almond flour

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp. baking soda because baking soda is totally OK for Passover which I never ever knew until I decided to actually keep Passover and realized it’s not so hard.

Preheat oven to 350. Butter 13×9 pan.

Beat egg yolks until creamy. Add melted butter and vanilla. Stir in.

Add honey and sugar. Mix until creamy.

Mix in buttermilk or coffee.

Mix together flours and baking soda. Add to the egg yolks in two parts and stir until incorporated.

Beat egg whites with salt until forming still peaks. Stir ¼ of egg whites into egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Then, in three parts, very gently fold the whites into the mixture.

Pour into pan and bake. It take about half an hour. When the top starts browning, it is pretty quick, so keep an eye on it, but you can let almost the whole top get brown.

This is also a good recipe for people with Celiac Disease, as it is grain-free. Unfortunately, not a good recipe for school board meetings because it has a nut flour in it.

Baking, like life, is very complicated.

Go forth, my friends. Bake yourself a community. Bake America great again.

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