she was celebrating her 80th birthday, with a concert for around 60 friends, and asked me to make appetizers. I choose a Slavic theme because Helen spent time as a citizen diplomat in Russia in the 90’s. She couldn’t find anyone locally to make her birthday cake, so I signed on for a cake for 60 on top of everything else. Yikes. I’d never made a cake that large, but oh well. It was an intense week of cooking, and I hope to post the lovely recipes that came out of it. Everyone loved the cake. I was also quite happy with how it turned out, and thought you’d appreciate the recipe.
Some notes of interest about the cake
Equal parts of rye and potato starch make an excellent cake flour.
The freshly ground spices are important and are carried well with the honey.
Acid, i.e. Apple Cider Vinegar awakens the flavors. It's surprising what you can’t taste until you add acid and salt. This goes for baking as much as for soup.
Real Buttercream that isn’t too sweet makes the cake.
I liked the simple decorations of candied orange peel, blanched almonds and buttercream.
The big cake was three times this recipe.
Helen’s Honey Apple Cake
makes one 10 inch round or square cake serves 10 A balanced cake, not too sweet, spicy yet demure with tart apple. It’s moist yet light. The secret to its texture are equal parts of rye and potato starch, plus the boiling water. Because it uses honey, it’s a long keeping cake and improves with age. I must say, it’s a favorite and the European style buttercream a good addition.
Ingredients 1 ¼ cup /175g rye flour 1 ¼ cup /185g potato starch 2 teaspoons baking soda ½ teaspoon sea salt all of the spice mix ½ cup soft unsalted butter 1 cup /320g local raw honey 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax meal + 5 tablespoons water) 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 cup /237 ml boiling water 1 cup /125g /one tart apple peeled and cut into a small dice
Spice Mix for Helen’s Honey Cake 1 teaspoon coriander seed 5 green cardamom pods ½ teaspoon allspice berries 4 whole cloves Scant ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns 1 teaspoon fennel seed 2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
Instructions Preheat oven to 350F/180C Ready a 10-inch round springform buttered with parchment on bottom Gather all ingredients together Make the flax eggs by adding 5 tablespoons water to 2 tablespoons flax meal Grind spice mix and sift through a sieve Measure out dry ingredients including spices and sift into a large mixing bowl Heat water, cut up apple, measure honey Whip honey and soft butter together using a mixer until light and fluffy Add flax eggs and continue to whip Add vinegar to boiling water Alternating boiling water with dry ingredients, mix both into butter honey with mixer on low speed until completely combined Pour into springform and bake immediately on a middle rack for 30 minutes A toothpick will come out clean inserted into the center Let cool for 15 minutes and then release from springform and completely cool before decorating with buttercream.
The recipe will make a cake this size.
makes about 2 cups Buttercream should be served at room temperature. Ingredients 1/2 cup/115g sugar 1/4 cup/60 ml of water 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks 4 softened sticks (1 lb.) 454g unsalted butter 1 vanilla bean pinch of sea salt
Instructions In a heavy bottomed sauce pan– Measure out sugar and water Add the scraped out insides of a vanilla bean to it. Cook to the softball stage 240°F/ 115C on medium low. Take off heat Beat eggs and egg yolks together until frothy and thick Slowly Add the sugar syrup to the beaten eggs while whipping in a standing or handheld mixer Add butter pats plus salt and whip until light and fluffy