To celebrate the approval of our UK ILR (permanent residence) I decided to make a particularly rich “celebration cake”. I devised a recipe derived from one for Polish Piernik… it worked rather well I think.
- 1 cup (250ml) chestnut honey (or other dark rich honey)
- 225g unsalted butter (leaving some from a 250g block for tin–greasing)
- 1 teaspoon (15ml) cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (15ml) ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon (15ml) allspice
- 1 cup (250ml) Hardknott Vitesse Noir (or alternative super–rich ale)
- 3 large eggs
- 250ml packed dark muscovado sugar
- 3 teaspoons (45ml) baking powder
- 1 cup (1000ml) plain white flour
Life, I find, is easier if you measure out all your ingredients in advance. This also means that you can pour 80ml of Vitesse Noir into a glass to enjoy while you prepare the cake!
Put the chestnut honey, butter, and spices into a small (~1 litre) saucepan. Heat until all liquid and foaming — be careful, this will overboil and make a terrible mess if you’re not watchful.
Take the hot liquid off the stove and mix in the beer, then wait until the liquid is cool enough to dip your finger in (careful!)
Preheat oven to 180°C (gas mark 4, 350°F) and prepare a thoroughly greased large ring tin (or a couple of loaf tins). You may want to do this earlier if your oven is slow to heat.
In a large bowl use an electric mixer to thoroughly beat the eggs and muscovado sugar together util thick and creamy. Mix in the baking powder and then using a lower speed (or hand whisk) gradually work in the warm honey & butter mixture.
Sift the flour in in 4 or 5 batches, folding into the batter with a large spoon.
Carefully fill your cake tin with the batter and pop into the oven as soon as possible.
The cake should take about 45 minutes to bake — use the good old skewer test to check.
Present with a dusting of icing sugar and a glass of Vitesse Noir.
I’ve used Vitesse Noir in celebration of our permanent residence as I wanted to use (and drink) a great beer from one of my favourite UK breweries. You could use any one of thousands of other great “imperial” (strong & rich) ales if you don’t have this one handy. I’d like to try the recipe again with a distinctively barrel aged beer, especially whisky or rum.
I can’t comment on how much of a contribution the beer makes to the flavour as I don’t have a “control” (version without the beer) — there is a chance given the richness of the honey and sugar that it could be minimal. Another experiment I want to try again is the same recipe but with light honey, light muscovado, and no spice.
But there is only so much cake I can bake! Would be great to hear of anyone else’s attempts at this.