The comfort cake

So I bought Odette Williams’ cookbook called Simple Cake a few weeks ago. Just the word “simple” alone had me sold. I love finding simple recipes with surprisingly great results. That’s the good stuff right there! I feel the exact same way cooking three- to four-ingredient pasta recipes. It’s pared down but the resulting flavors are divine.

That brings me to this Milk and Honey Cake. This cake is one of Odette Williams’ ten simple cakes. That’s the entire concept: to lay out 10 foolproof simple cake recipes that you can easily make as a base for something fancier, more elaborate. BUT they are already perfect and delicious all on their own. She then proceeds to outline 15 cake toppings that you can mix and match with the 10 simple cakes. Brilliant, right? I am all for these foundational yet equally delicious cake combinations.

Since I’m a novice baker, I love it when recipes don’t call for elaborate, hard-to-find ingredients. This milk and honey cake is that kind of cake: basic ingredients (I mean what could be more basic than milk and honey?) and easy, unfussy steps. Possibly the only tricky ingredient in this recipe is the buttermilk. I mean that’s a tricky ingredient for us here in the Philippines because we don’t usually cook with buttermilk. However, if you Google buttermilk substitutes, you’d find out how easy it is to make your own buttermilk. It’s simply whole milk and lemon (or vinegar). That’s it!

For the topping, I followed her suggestion of honey whipped cream. That’s simply honey and whipped cream. How many times have I used the word “simple” in this post. Haha. It just is!

You can just imagine how wonderful the milk and honey smell that filled our little apartment that Tuesday afternoon.

Finally when we got to taste a slice, doused with a generous amount of whipped cream, I was floored. Seriously! That is one delicious cake! For a second I thought, “Is this beginner’s luck or just novelty or it really is that good?” I shut my thoughts and simply (there it goes again) enjoyed the damn cake.

Who knew milk and honey (and butter and eggs) could create such subtle, warm flavors? The honey was unmistakable though, and when paired with the honey whipped cream, more honey (subtle honey) heaven unfolded. It tastes like warmth and home, or like hot coffee on a rainy morning, or curling up in bed on a no-plans weekend, or a squeaky clean house all to yourself. You know where I’m going with this, right? It’s such a comforting cake.

Thank you, Odette Williams!


Milk and Honey Cake
from Simple Cake by Odette Williams

(makes two 8 by 2-inch round cakes)

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups (290g) AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temp
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
3/4 cup honey (255g) honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 tbps (1 1/2 sticks or 170g) unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar

Steps:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Grease two 8×2 inch round pans with butter, line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, and grease the paper too.

2. Place a large sifter or a sieve in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and sift.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together. Set aside.

4. In another small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.

5. Using an electric mixer with beaters or a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 30 to 45 seconds on medium speed, then gradually add the sugar. When all the sugar has been added, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Continue beating on medium speed for another 4 minutes or until light in color and fluffy.

6. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs 1 tablespoon at a time, over 3 minutes. If the batter curdles, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the flour to bind it back together.

7. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternately two times, starting and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined and smooth. Don’t overbeat. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure it is well combined.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven on the same rack for 35 to 38 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed.

9. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them stand for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the cakes to gently release. Peel off the parchment paper from the sides. Invert the cakes, peel off the bottom piece of parchment and cool on a wire rack.

Tips:
*Try to sift the flour mixture twice to get the flour aerated and light as possible

*Don’t pack the cup with flour when measuring and don’t overbake.

*To make one cake only, halve the ingredients. To divide an egg, simply crack the egg into small bowl and use a tablespoon to measure half.

For the honey whipped cream, simply whisk 1 cup (240ml) of chilled heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of honey. Whisk until smooth, soft peaks, light and fluffy in texture.

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