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An All-American 4th of July: Southern Honey Bee Cake

An All-American 4th of July: Southern Honey Bee Cake
An All-American 4th of July: Southern Honey Bee CakeChef Larry Edwards/Casa de Cuisine

I think my favorite holiday may be the 4th of July. It gives me a chance to not only run around grilling to my hearts content without people thinking I am a mad man playing with fire and knives, but it gives me a chance to delve into what is considered to be true-blue (or true red/white and blue) American cooking. It's fun and that really is what cooking should be all about.

In this series called An All-American 4th of July, we will have some fun with some true American cooking. It will be tasty! It will be easy and it will give you a chance to celebrate the birth of the greatest nation on the face of this earth while filling your stomach with delicious morsels of Americana!

Though Honey Bee Cake has its origins in Northern Europe, it has become a classic Summer cake throughout the South. As a matter-of-fact, when you go to the various Summer church socials throughout the South, you will often find a variation of this cake on those famed long church tables laden with delicious food.

This may be the strangest dough you will ever prepare and you will swear you have made a mistake. The way the eggs are included into the dough really makes no sense, however sometimes in the kitchen sense needs to be thrown down the disposal. Once you add the eggs you will have a ropey kind of doughy mess and yes, this is what you want. When you place the dough into your prepared pans all you need to do is “sort of" spread it with you fingers to cover the pan (I write “sort of” because it’s not as easy as you might think). I should also point out that the best way to include the eggs into the dough is with your hands – it’s messy but fun!

Why it has the name Honey Bee Cake, I don't really know. It only has one teaspoon of honey in the dough and it is not overtly sweet. Regardless, it is a delicious taste of Americana and rather easy to bake at home.

Ingredients needed to make Honey Bee Cake (makes 2 cakes):

Yeast Dough:

  • 1 Tbs. yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 egg

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl whisk together the yeast, warm water and honey. Set the bowl aside 5 minutes for the yeast to proof (foam).
  2. In a large bowl whisk the butter, sugar, salt, zest and milk until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour and the proofed yeast to form a dough. Cover the bowl and let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the egg yolks and whole egg until well blended.
  5. Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead 5 minutes, Place back into the bowl. Cover and let rise 2 hours.
  6. Punch the dough down and place on a floured surface. Roll out into a circle of 3/4-inch thick.
  7. Line the bottoms of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Place the dough in the prepared pans and let rest 30 minutes.

Glaze:

  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup slivered almonds

Steps:

  1. In a small saucepan combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened and golden in color. Remove the pan from the heat and cool.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  3. Spoon the glaze over the dough.
  4. Place in the oven and bake 35 minutes or until gold in color.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool COMPLETELY on a rack.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."