- from a recipe by Harry Eastwood.
This cake was made specifically for the AlphaBakes challenge, where this month's randomly chosen letter is H.
My baking books were surprisingly short of recipes containing ingredients beginning with H - hazelnuts featured heavily, but I've used them a lot lately, and wanted to avoid them if possible. Honey was the only other frequently used ingredient, so I set myself the task of finding a recipe for a fruit cake sweetened only by honey. So many recipes are called 'honey (something or other)', only to feature a tablespoon or two of honey, supposedly added for flavour, in addition to the usual high amount of sugar found in most cakes and biscuits.
I'm not going down the route of claiming that a cake sweetened with honey is any healthier than a cake sweetened by standard sugar (they are both types of carbohydrates not really needed for nutrition), but I do think that if you are using honey for it's flavour, you need a fair amount of it in a cake!
However, Harry Eastwood's baking recipes (ooooh! an extra H there!) are special for being a little bit healthier than most. She uses added vegetables a lot, and tries to cut down on the amount of sugar and fat in her recipes. This cake, called a Honey Breakfast Fruit Cake, uses finely grated butternut squash to replace much of the fat - the only fat comes from nuts and eggs - and the squash also has a natural sweetness which means less needs to be added in the form of honey. The cake batter is made from half flour and half ground almonds and is packed with dried fruit and chopped nuts. In fact, for the size of cake made, it's really fruit and nuts held together with a little cake batter!
I followed the basic recipe, but as I'm trying to finish some of the half-used packets of dried fruits and nuts in the storecupboard, I altered what I used from what was suggested in the recipe. Instead of raisins and cranberries, I used sultanas, cranberries and sour cherries, and instead of chopped almonds I used a mixture of almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts and peanuts. I also sprinkled some flaked almonds on top of the cake before baking.
This was a really delicious cake; the almond flavour was predominant, as you'd expect with the use of almond extract, but the lemon zest and the honey both made a noticeable contribution. Obviously, the cake will vary in flavour depending on what type of honey is used - I used a Fairtrade Guatemalan honey which wasn't produced from any specific flowers, and was just a generic 'honey' flavour.
The big surprise was that the absence of fat wasn't noticed, nor was the addition of quite a large amount of grated butternut squash. The recipe stated to grate the squash finely, so I used a finer grater than I would have used if grating carrots for a carrot cake, and this made the vegetable vanish into the cake batter, only adding moisture to the texture.
I'm not sure this would convince me that it's good to eat cake for breakfast, but it is certainly a cake that's good to eat, and will go on my list of things worth repeating.
AlphaBakes (rules here) is a blogging challenge hosted on alternate months by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes. This month's randomly chosen letter H was picked by Ros, who will post a roundup of entries at the end of the month.