Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hollywood Honey "Cake"

Yesterday was the hottest day we've had so far this year: it was up in the high 80s. For France, little northern un-air-conditioned France, that's hot. Fortunately, we live in an old stone house. We were actually quite comfortable. Which is why I felt perfectly comfortable about baking.
Yesterday was also a national holiday (Pentecost Monday, to celebrate the separation of church and state), which meant that the stores were closed. That meant that I needed a recipe that could be made with ingredients I had on hand. Since I had no eggs, this was the perfect one. In theory, I was supposed to make a blueberry sweet bread this go-round, but blueberries are not in season. In about a month, I will be making a cavalcade of seasonal fruit desserts.

But let's stay focused on this bread (I'm not quite sure why Maida calls it cake). It's dead simple. It takes 5 minutes and no mixer to put together. Note the healthy ingredients: whole wheat flour, raisins, nuts. No butter or eggs. I'm sure it's quite low-cal. Not.

OK, here's my oven. Note the 30-degree variations. I found on the iPhone that 275 F is 135 C. Fortunately there's a 130 on the oven. But who knows if it's really 130...

But my "cake" baked up fine, except for the funky volcano thing. And what's with the powdery white residue? Is it extra baking soda? Ashes from the Icelandic volcano? That needed to be scraped off. It was weird.

But inside, it's all chewy, sweet health-foody goodness. Claire of course wouldn't touch it because it involves raisins, but I was able to find some takers for most of it, and I think they appreciated it. I enjoyed it toasted and spread with cream cheese for breakfast, and I think it would also set off a Brie really nicely. It's a bit sweet (especially so since I made a math error and ended up putting 6.5 ounces of honey instead of the 5.9. Always use the calculator, Maria!), but not cake sweet. More like raisin bread sweet.
So if your kitchen is not too hot, you like raisins, and you're looking for a healthy breakfast treat, give this one a try!
Here's the recipe:

Hollywood Honey Cake

3.5 oz. (3/4 c.) raisins
3.5 oz. (1 c.) walnuts
1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
2 c. (11 oz.) unsifted whole wheat flour
Scant 1 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda
2-1/2 t. baking powder
1-1/2 c. (12 oz.) milk
1/2 c. (5.9 oz.) honey (or a touch more)
Heat the oven to 275. Get out a loaf pan and grease it. You won’t need a mixer for this recipe—just a large-ish mixing bowl.
If your raisins are dry and puny like mine, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes while you get the rest of the bread ready. If they’re large and soft, I think you can skip this step.
Chop or break the walnuts into medium-sized pieces.
Put the flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into your mixing bowl and whisk them well to distribute the leavening. Now add the milk and honey (I can’t say enough about measuring honey by weight!) and stir well. Add the (drained) raisins and walnuts. That’s it!
Pour that into the loaf pan and put it in the oven. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes—check after an hour (mine took about 1 hour 10 minutes). The tester you put in should come out completely clean and dry.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a rack and let cool completely. Slice and enjoy—it’s good for you!

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