Simplicity is underrated. Rustic French Honey Cake is pure simplicity. Rich honey flavour in a beautifully moist cake that’s easy to make!
Cake Is its Own Reward.
Rustic, single-layer cakes are some of my favourite cakes. No layering or frosting, just cake with a buttery crumb and caramelized honey crust. Perfect as a foil for summer fruits and… more honey.
Honey became my unofficial theme this month because I have a huge jar of local wildflower honey to use up. It’s the perfect time of year to use up honey that’s crystalizing slightly, as spring unfolds and bees begin buzzing once again.
French Country Cooking
Many cultures have some version of a Honey Cake. Honey is the original sweetener. Long before refined sugar, honey was harvested for our sweet pleasure. This recipe is based on the long history of almond flour cakes prevalent in the south of France. It’s a cake in the country style, using pure ingredients that truly makes the honey the star of the show.
Healthy Nut Flour
Almond flour is made from almonds, finely ground. It’s a great gluten-free alternative to regular flour. It’s low in carbs and high in protein, fibre, and heart-healthy fats, giving it a low glycemic index.
There is strong evidence to suggest that the use of almond flour pre-dates flour or ground grains. Almond flour is denser than flours made primarily with wheat. It has twice the amount of protein, eight times more fibre, and fewer carbs than traditional white or whole-wheat flours.
Almond flour is a natural anti-inflammatory. Along with other whole grain and nut flours: almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, and quinoa flour.
This might be one of my best cakes to move easily to accommodate both gluten-free and Paleo diets. Simply eliminate the all-purpose flour and replace it with almond flour, then add an extra egg for moisture and binding.
The method remains the same, the results will be very similar without that pesky gluten and grain component.
All In Favour of Honey
The fragrance of wildflower honey filled the house as this Rustic French Honey Cake baked. Like being inside the hive itself, on a warm summer morning, surrounded by honey and pollen.
The beauty of the simplicity of flavour in this recipe is how it amplifies the taste of honey. You can bend that flavour easily, depending on the kind of honey you use. I prefer light honey; wildflower, alfalfa and clover honey for baking. If I ever stumble upon Orange Blossom Honey again, I will snap it up! It would be DEVINE in a Rustic French Honey Cake.
Maybe lean away from varieties like Buckwheat honey or Manuka honey as they will render a much darker Honey Cake result.
Simple Cake. Simple Method.
The method for Rustic French Honey Cake is paired down to basics: dry mix, cream butter & honey, add eggs, one at a time, lightly beat in your dry mix then add almond extract and sour cream, and beat.
In this recipe, I noted the beat count for my stand mixer to ensure you don’t over mix. Over mixing cake batter leads to heavy, tough cakes. Once you add your flour, bring your speed and/or effort down a notch so as not to over-activate the gluten.
“A lumpy batter makes a smooth cake.” – Spanish Proverb
Cake Skills 101
One of the best tips I’ve ever adopted on the sweet side of the kitchen, for great cake results, is scraping down your bowl between each step. Particularly if you’re using a stand or hand mixer.
In between additions and before your final mix, ensure you remove anything stuck to the bowl with your trusty spatula, right down to the bottom, to be sure that ALL your ingredients are in your batter before baking.
Leaving butter, flour or leavening agents in the bottom of the bowl is a great way to undermine a great cake.
Simplicity is underrated. Rustic French Honey Cake is pure simplicity. Rich honey flavour in a beautifully moist cake that’s suprizingly easy to make!
1cup all-purpose flour
1cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2cup butter, softened
1cup liquid honey
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2cup sour cream OR Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons butter, firm, to coat pan (see notes)
2 tablespoons icing sugar, to coat pan (see notes)
Extra honey, ripe fruits and/or nuts for serving
Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C). Prepare an 8-inch springform pan well, coating the inside well with butter, and then icing sugar. If you prefer, you can use non-stick spray and with either option, a round of parchment on the bottom of your pan always aids on the final unmolding.
Mix dry ingredients; all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk well to combine.
In a large bowl, cream butter and honey until light and smooth, using a wooden spoon, a stand mixer fitted with a paddle tool or hand mixer, set at medium speed. Scrape down your bowl with a spatula to loosen any ingredients stuck to the sides and bottom of your bowl.
Now add eggs, one at a time, beating well in between. Using a stand mixer, I count beats to achieve the consistency I like. In the case of the eggs, I beat six times at medium speed. Then once all eggs are combined, I toggle the speed up to medium-high and beat an additional ten rotations for a light result. Scrape down your bowl with a spatula.
Add the dry mix, all at once to the wet mix. Beat at low speed for six beats. Then add your almond extract and yogurt and beat about six times, also on low. Pause and scrape down your bowl with a spatula, ensuring you get any ingredients off the bottom of the bowl, then beat another ten times at medium-low speed.
Gently pour batter into your prepared 8-inch round pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula to ensure an even top then jiggle and tap the pan lightly on your counter to help settle the batter before placing in the pre-warmed 350° F (175°C) oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until center of the cake is set (when a toothpick inserted in the center removes with only a few crumbs), and the entire surface is a deep brown. (see notes)
Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack until pan is easy to handle. Loosen the ring and gently remove. Once completely cool, invert the cake onto the wire rack to remove the bottom of the pan from the cake. Platter and reserve until ready to serve. Finish with ripe berries, fruits, nuts, edible floral and honey in any combination that pleases. I love raspberries with this cake, the hubs favours figs.
with this cake, I used butter and powdered icing sugar to prepare my pan. This is one of my favourite combinations to ensure a good firm crust on the cake itself. It also helps to give your Rustic French Honey Cake beautiful colour. There are too many insipid, anemic cakes in the world, that caramelized dark colour, very prevalent in European cakes, is FLAVOUR.
Be aware that Honey Cake will set at the very last minute. Don’t panic if at the 2o minute mark the center is still loose and jiggly. Stay the course, at the same temperature, until done. It might take a little longer, depending on your oven. I was closer to 42 minutes to get the result you see here.
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.