Nothing expresses a region’s character more than a spoonful of wildflower honey. The flavor varies depending on what flowers are indigenous to the area. A hive full of bees did a lot of hard work only to have their cache robbed, so every spoonful consumed should be appreciated.
Alsatians are fiercely proud of their honey. It shows up in their cakes and pastries and gets drizzled on cheese. My Strasbourg-born grandmother would combine honey and walnuts in the fall to produce a cake similar to this one. It’s delicate and moist and carries the scent of honey, orange peel, and walnuts. Serve it unadorned or with softly whipped cream.–Maria Helm Sinskey
LC A Season For All Things Note
This seems like an ideal autumn cake. And it is an ideal autumn cake. But don’t let that lead you to discriminate against it the rest of the year.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
Spread the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Rub the nuts in a towel to remove the loose skins.
Grind the nuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the flour until very fine. In a medium bowl, combine the ground nuts, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter with the honey and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the orange zest and vanilla. Add it in thirds to the butter mixture. Beat well to incorporate after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, toast about 10 walnut halves on a sheet pan for 8 minutes. While they are still warm rub the nuts in a towel to remove the excess skin and place them in a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of honey and stir until the walnuts are coated. Reserve the walnut halves at room temperature to garnish the cake when it is finished.
Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cake rack to cool. Garnish the edge of the cake with the walnut halves before slicing it into wedges.
This cake is absolutely divine. The combination of walnuts, honey, and orange peel mingle together making this moist cake spectacular. Whether you serve it with or without whipped cream, it’s sure to satisfy.