Wednesday, January 28, 2009
My mom called me the other day to tell me about her search for the perfect honey cake recipe she remembers from her childhood and yet another failed attempt to recreate it. While I will thoroughly research every new baking/cooking endeavor and find the best recipes by learning from the mistakes of others, my mother is a lot more adventurous in the kitchen. On many occasions she has literally thrown whatever she felt like together with the carefree notion of "well, why not?" and "let's see what happens if I add this" and "well, if it doesn't turn out, your father will still eat it". And most of the time her experiments turn out great and she'll call me the next day and happily describe what she did with a touch of the old world instructions that don't actually have any measurements despite my best efforts to extract them. A snippet of the conversation will usually go like this:
Mom: "....and then you add some flour"
Me: "How much do you add?"
Mom: "Just a few handfuls 'till it starts looking like it's enough. You'll see."
Me: "Well, approximately how much did you add?"
Mom: "A few cups should do it. Oh, and then you need some baking soda and vinegar"
Me: "What? Really?"
Mom: "Of course, how else are you going to get it to fizz?"
Me: "It needs to fizz?"
And this is when I give up. None of the recipes I've ever come across even mention vinegar. I write down the ingredients she mentions on any scrap of paper I find along with my guesstimates of the measurements with a quick note stating that it's my mother's recipe and I file it away for future investigation.
But back to the honey cake. I wrote down the ingredients she was using and the two variations she learned from my grandmother and one of her friends and listened to how disappointed my father was when he had to go to sleep at the end of the night with no cake and the whole house smelling of baked goods and honey, and I decided to give it a try. I found a recipe that sounded the closest to what my mom was trying to do here and I decided to make it and bring it over to my parent's when I visit them tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe I can come close and I can give her the recipe to play with as she pleases. I doubled the recipe and made two small 8" loaves and a short 6" round cake. One loaf will come with me to work and the other I'll bring to my parent's house....as for that round one...aside from being my model it'll also probably be breakfast since it'll go great with the green tea I just bought. And in the mean time, I get to go to bed with my whole house smelling of warm honey with a touch of cinnamon.