Sunday, December 11, 2011

Constance Spry's honey cake

My guess is that the foodie in your life, unwrapping a book on Christmas day, would be moderately pleased to find the latest offering from a celebrity chef, but absolutely delighted to find The Constance Spry Cookbook, just out in a new hardback edition from Grub Street. This 1956 kitchen bible remains the most prized work of its kind in numerous kitchens. Even if your foodie already has a copy, he or she will welcome a new one, because the old one is probably showing the effects of heavy usage.

Here is Constance Spry's honey cake.

3 eggs
2tbsp caster sugar
3tbsp honey
Grated rind of half a lemon
50g cornflour
65g plain flour


Separate the eggs. Cream the yolks with the sugar, honey, and lemon rind until white and expanded. I did this with a stick blender, which is far less appropriate for the job than a hand-held electric whisk would be. In theory, the yolks will whiten, and the volume of the mixture will expand considerably. My mixture got only some of the way towards this state before I gave up.

Fold in the cornflour.

Whip the whites until they form peaks (see here). Tip in the egg mixture with the plain flour, and fold everything together gently, until well amalgamated. The mixture is quite loose.

Spry does not specify the size of the cake tin. I used a 20cm springform one. Line the bottom with greaseproof paper cut into a disc (see here), grease the sides with a little vegetable oil, and pour in the cake mixture. Put the tin on to a baking sheet, and bake in a gas mark 3/170C oven for 35-40 minutes, or until set. (As you can see, I overdid it somewhat.) Allow to cool before turning out.

The honey compensates to a certain extent for the slightly dry texture of this butter-less cake. Still, it would be a good idea to serve it with cream, or buttercream, or perhaps a fruity concoction. The lack of butter, which is an anti-staling agent, means that you need to eat the cake soon after you've baked it.

1 comment:

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