My mother was a wonderful cook and one of her favourite things was baking. We always had cake in the house and she loved trying new recipes. Recently, more than ten years after she died, I have been re-visiting her cookery books, not the ones she bought but the ones she compiled herself; recipes which enticed her, copied out from magazines, newspapers or passed on from friends and family. It is a poignant exercise, seeing her generous rounded hand-writing and the ingredient spattered pages. In some ways it brings her closer; in others it deepens my sense of loss.
My children, now grown, often talk of 'Grandma's recipes' and many have become our own family favourites but I had forgotten about this one. I can't remember whether we were out one day or watching television but as soon as I heard the words 'honey cake', I thought, Mummy used to make that and, sure enough, rootling through her books I found it.
It is a lovely cake, so quick and easy to make and it gets even better after a few days as the honey flavour develops and moistens the sponge. It is equally good with a cup of tea or coffee or served as a pudding, (as I did last week at a family get-together), with soft fruit and ice cream. It also freezes well.
You can use any honey but I used a truly beautiful English heather honey from Littleover Apiary, (available from Waitrose), where, during late Summer, the hives are placed on the moors in the North of England for the bees to do their work. The taste transferred from those flowers is sublime!
So here it is - one of the cakes my mother used to make:-
Quick Honey Sponge
4oz butter or margarine
1 good dessert spoon of honey of your choice
2 eggs (unbeaten)
4oz castor sugar
5oz self-raising flour
Half tsp baking powder
Chop up fat and place in warmed bowl with other ingredients. Beat until smooth. Pour into loaf tin and bake for about 20/25 minutes.
That's it! Couldn't be simpler. I'm afraid that I can't tell you what temperature to bake it at as my Mum hasn't specified and I have an Aga. But I'd definitely check it after fifteen to twenty minutes and if it looks as if it is catching a little around the sides just put a piece of foil over the top for the last few minutes of cooking. It doesn't make a large cake, probably about 7/8 medium slices. Last week, when we were a bit of a crowd, I made doubled the quantity and made two, just whisking the whole mixture up together and then dividing it into two loaf tins.
As usual I have to make a few substitutions as I'm gluten free and my daughter is dairy free but it still makes a lovely cake. Instead of butter I used Pure Sunflower Spread. The self-raising flour was Dove's Farm Gluten Free Flour and the milk was Alpro soya milk. If you're baking it for someone who's gluten free don't forget to check the baking powder as well - some of them do contain gluten.
I hope you enjoy it!