The light rain saturated the sky like watercolors bleeding onto paper fibers- gradations from grays to bright blues seeped into the clouds. Below, branches swayed back and forth, growing fuller by the day with a captivating chartreuse. Inside, the curtains billowed and floated in the flicker of the returning sunlight. The cool air breezed through the fine mesh of the screen. Its worn, frayed holes caught flecks of light like tiny prisms on the periphery, and I listened to a rosined bow glide purposefully across four strings.
The lyrics, the light, the corner chair… it was that precise moment when the sun is warm, but the air is crisp, cool, and carries the scent of fresh rain. It’s not too hot, not too cold; not too damp, not too dry… it’s the perfect cusp, teetering on the edge of tan lines and summer wanderlust. The shadows and rays teased one another through water droplets on weathered wood, and the window framed the moment, like a long, slow detail in a film. These cusps call for deep breaths, far off gazes, closed mouths, quiet pauses, quiet thoughts and meandering minds. That window, that corner, and that chair is the best part of my day. It’s my corner of spring.
From my quiet perch, the distant traffic became a wave crashing on a shoreline. The neighborhood had yet to emerge fully from winter’s dormancy, and the lull allowed the birds their due spotlight. They sang their return from every corner, and every now and then, there was a faint hum of a little bee at work.
I made this cake for the keepers of bees (the Urban Farmer amongst them). The apiarists gathered in a beautiful barn, where flowers hung from aged beams to dry. These men and women gathered to share the many lessons they had learned in their quests for liquid gold. If ever a spoonful could evoke what my spring corner embraces, it would be a spoonful of honey. This cake was an ode to the way a taste of honey distills a season into amber sweetness, with notes of a region’s beauty, so I featured a liquor that’s an ode to the region’s apiaries.
Wigle Whiskey is a local distillery on a mission to restore Pennsylvania’s whiskey history, a mission I salute! Their playful approach to craft spirits always has them exploring and experimenting. One of their curious pursuits led them to create a Pennsylvania interpretation of Rum in celebration of our region’s prolific apiaries.
Made from scratch and pot-distilled from Pennsylvania buckwheat honey, this distilled mead is a uniquely inland approach to island spirits with whole, organic botanicals–roasted orange peel, cocoa nibs, whole vanilla beans and cinnamon–to complement the buckwheat honey’s distinctive character. Simply put, Wigle’s Landlocked Spiced is just the right touch for a beekeeper’s cake (and for a beekeeper’s glass too!).
To spring, bees & landlocked libations!
Whole Wheat Orange Cardamom Honey Cake with Honey Candied Oranges & Whipped Cream featuring Wigle Whiskey Landlocked Spiced
About This Recipe: This recipe starts by candying oranges with honey, instead of the traditional sugar approach, which yields a more complex flavor. The remaining syrup finds its way into each element of the dessert. Add a Tablespoon or two to the whipped cream, and use the remaining syrup to seep into the cake when it’s fresh from the oven. Be sure to use a local, raw honey for the most flavor and to support your local beekeepers. If you’re not in Wigle’s shipping range, you can road trip to Pittsburgh, or substitute your favorite rum or mead. For a simple cocktail, add one of the honey candied orange slices to a glass of Landlocked Spiced on the rocks, and sip slowly.
Honey Candied Oranges & Syrup
3/4 cup local, raw honey
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice (from 2 organic lemons)
1/4 cup Wigle Landlocked Spiced
2 oranges, sliced 1/4-inch thick
In large skillet, combine honey, orange juice, lemon juice and Landlocked. Bring to a boil.
Add oranges slices. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until oranges are translucent.
Remove slices from syrup and cool completely. Reserve syrup.
Orange Honey Whipped Cream
1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons orange syrup (from candied oranges)
1-2 Tablespoons Wigle Landlocked Spiced, to taste (optional)
In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream, vanilla and orange syrup. Beat on medium high until soft peaks form. Add Landlocked Spiced, and beat until incorporated. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Whole Wheat Orange Cardamom Honey Cake
2 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
8 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
1/2 cup local, raw, wildflower honey
zest of 1 organic orange
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs (organic/cage-free)
3/4 cup organic, plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add honey and beat until well incorporated, about 1 minute.
Add the orange zest and vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well-incorporated.
Add half of the dry ingredients, stir until just combined. Add the yogurt, stir. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Transfer cake to a cooling rack. Use a cake tester or a skewer to poke holes in the surface of the cake. Pour remaining Honey Orange Syrup over the cake.
Allow to cool completely, and then top with whipped cream and candied orange slices.
p.s: I received product in exchange for this post, but all opinions are my own.