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Honey Cake with Fleur De Sel

Saturday, February 9, 2013
The days aren’t discarded or collected, they are bees
that burned with sweetness or maddened
the sting: the struggle continues,
the journeys go and come between honey and pain.
No, the net of years doesn’t unweave: there is no net.
They don’t fall drop by drop from a river: there is no river.
Sleep doesn’t divide life by halves,
or action, or silence, or honor:
life is a stone, a single motion,
a lonesome bonfire reflected on the leaves,
an arrow, only one, slow or swift, a metal
that climbs or descends burning in your bones.
-Pablo Neruda


Honey Cake with Fleur de Sel
There are so many recipes for honey cake out there, but one Friday  morning I decided to tinker with my own. I love honey and coffee and butter together [like in this syrup], but most of the cakes I found were made with oil and piles of sugar and piles of spices. I found I still needed some sugar with the honey, but I mostly just wanted to highlight those three ingredients. The warm honey topping was inspired by this cake [isn’t that top so so pretty?], and I saw the honey-salt combination in many places; it seemed perfect.

The texture of this cake reminds me of this bread, which is one of my favorites, but one I like best with nuts. Next time around, I would add 1 1/2 cups of almonds, or pecans, or walnuts here. Also, cacao nibs? I feel I’ve been overusing them, but I would probably throw those in. And, I didn’t brush the sides with the warm honey initially [only the top] and highly regretted it. That sticky-salty topping is the very best part of this cake. So go for it. [You can sprinkle some sanding sugar on top along with the salt, if you want to balance the saltiness a bit. It makes everything more sparkly, too, which is never a bad thing].

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup [2 sticks] butter, room temperature
1 cup [good] honey
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cold
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts [optional, see note above]

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl, set aside.

In a standing mixer, beat butter for a minute or two, then add the honey and sugar. Beat for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition [batter may appear a little curdled here – no worries. It will even out when you add the flour]. Add half the flour mixture, and mix until combined. Add the coffee, and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until combined. Add the sour cream [and nuts, if using] and beat the batter for a minute, until smooth. Pour/scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake cake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the tube pan for 30 minutes, the gently invert the cake onto a rimmed baking sheet; remove the tube pan, place a wire rack on top of the cake, and invert the cake again. While the cake is still warm, pour the warm honey mixture over the top [recipe follows], and use a pastry brush to brush some on the sides. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

warm honey topping
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons coffee [optional]
fleur de sel

Heat the honey and coffee if using in a small saucepan until warm and very runny.

honey honey out on the sea |In the doldrums waiting for me | Me in my boat searching for he | honey honey food for the bees – Leslie Feist

  • Reply
    Winnie
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Looks wonderful.

  • Reply
    Melody
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Yum, yum! I am so in love with honey right now. I’m going through a jar every couple weeks. And oh, Pablo! Love him. Always.

  • Reply
    Morgane
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    The side picture of the piece of cake is simply amazing.

    I might try this recipe but I want to skip the sugar and only use Honey, how much do you think I need for 3/4 cup of sugar? Do you think that it would recreate a strong unbalance if I just skipped sugar and did not adding more honey?
    Thank you. Bonsoir from Paris.

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 3:07 am

      Thank you! And I think it would be okay to just skip the sugar. You could maybe add 1/4 more cup honey [1 1/4 cups in all], but much more than that would just be too much. Let me know if you try it!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    I love the look of this cake! Not too sweet, but pretty, easy, and full of goodness!

  • Reply
    Stacy
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I really don’t think there is such a thing as an overabundance of honey cakes, if you ask me. (: Lovely photos, and lovely poem, too — thanks for including those beautiful words here; they felt relevant to me today.

  • Reply
    Elise {Buttercream & Roses}
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Love the poem. This is the perfect cake. Simple and with one of my favorite baking ingredients honey. Coffee in the honey topping must taste divine. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Reply
    Angela @ the fairy bread chronicles
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 8:05 am

    i love the sound of the names of cakes – this one is so simple and beautiful: “honey cake with fleur de sel”. BLISS!

  • Reply
    Jenny @ BAKE
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I’ve never tried honey cake but your photos are making my mouth water! I’m going to have to try this recipe!

  • Reply
    Laura@bakinginpyjamas.com
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Your cake sounds and looks lovely. How does the coffee add to the flavour of the cake?

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    This cake sounds so incredibly magical. Will have to try it soon!

  • Reply
    Reem | Simply Reem
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Looks wonderful!
    Honey cake ate always my favorite, will try this one.

  • Reply
    london bakes
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Honey and salt are such a wonderful combination and I love the idea of a cake that really makes those flavours sing.

  • Reply
    Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    So inspiring on this cold winter’s day! That coffee honey sauce sounds delightful over the cake.

  • Reply
    Helene @ French Foodie Baby
    Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Love love when you share some Pablo Neruda, and your two highlighted lines ring especially true… Beautiful photos, must try this cake! I’m sure my own little Pablo will enjoy it thoroughly (and most certainly me too!!)

  • Reply
    Joanne
    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 1:41 am

    I love the honey salt combo…gets me every time! And more than that, I love that this cake really lets the honey flavor shine through! Perfection.

  • Reply
    Courtney
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Honey and sea salt together make me do a bit of a happy dance, so this cake is totally my jam! I’ll have to try it soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Hannah
    Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    This sounds delicious! I make a honey cake from Apple for Jam by Tessa Kiros – it has rosemary in which adds a yummy savoury note that is probably similar to the sea salt.

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  • Reply
    Davena
    Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    I made this yesterday and it was so lovely! Perfectly moist crumb and just the right amount of sweetness (I did reduce the sugar to 1/2 a cup though). Thank you!

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