Category Archives: Honey-sweetened recipes

Ray’s Birthday Cake for Tomorrow

Here is the Hummingbird cake I’ll be making tomorrow for Ray’s 58th birthday. He requested this one and I went to the store today to buy bananas, pecans, flour and crushed pineapple, the ingredients I didn’t have at home.

Ray has a serious sweet tooth and this should be just the cake to satisfy it. The combination of the maple sugar, the bananas, the crushed pineapple and the pecans create such a delectable taste, it’s tough to beat. The cream cheese frosting adds just the right amount of richness.

Also, I ordered Ray two pairs of jeans and three new sweaters to add to his rather small wardrobe. He seems to be happy knowing that he’ll have a few new duds coming soon.

I have included the recipe for the hummingbird cake below. This one is the original with my notes included should you decide to substitute maple sugar and honey for white sugar. Either way, you will not be disappointed.

Here’s to the birthday boy.

Hummingbird Cake


Cake Batter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (or 1 3/4 cups maple sugar and 1/4 cup honey)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
3/4 cup canola oil (or coconut oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


4 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (or 1/4 cup honey)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk


1. Prepare Cake Batter: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 4 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle 1 cup toasted pecans into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon batter over pecans.
3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).
4. Prepare Glaze: Process cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk in a food processor until well blended. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, processing until smooth. Immediately pour glaze over cooled cake, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toasted pecans.


5-Star Recipe for Chocolate Butter Cake w/ Buttercream Frosting

Since baking is my coping mechanism for stress, I thought I’d share another recipe. This is from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, a book I would highly recommend if you love baking cakes. I have tried many of the recipes for cakes and buttercream frostings and they are all delicious. Since I bake with alternative ingredients rather than with refined white sugar, my cakes are slightly different, but even sweetened with honey, maple sugar and/or maple syrup, these recipes come close to perfection. You just need to eye the consistency and make sure the batter is not too runny. I have included the original recipe below so if you’re a white sugar eater, you can go right in and make this cake. Let me know what you think, if you do. I’ll be interested in hearing how good you think it is!

chocolatebuttercake_2Happy baking.

Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake
by Rose Levy Beranbaum The Cake Bible

2.25 oz or 1/2 c + 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder (lightly spooned into cup)
8.25 oz or 1 liquid c boiling water
5.25 oz or 3 large eggs (weighed without shells)
2 1/4 t vanilla (no weight measure for this)
8.25 oz or 2 1/4 c +2 T sifted cake flour (I always used well sifted organic unbleached wheat flour)
10.5 oz or 1 1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder (no weight measure)
3/4 t salt (no weight measure)
8 oz or 1 c unsalted butter

All ingredients should be at room temperature, except boiling water.
Prepare cake pans : (2) 8″ or 9″ cake pans – grease the pan, line bottom with parchment paper and grease the paper. Flour pans.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
3. In another bowl, lightly combine eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
5. Increase to medium speed (high-speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
7. Scrape the batter into prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full.
8. Bake 25 – 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, re-invert so that the tops are up and then cool them completely before wrapping them airtight. Finished cakes will be about 1 1/2″ tall.
Store airtight: 2 days room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, 2 months frozen. Texture is most perfectly moist the same day as baking.

Neoclassic Buttercream
Makes 4 cups
4 oz or 6 large egg yolks
5.25 oz or 3/4 c sugar (I use maple sugar)
5.75 oz or 1/2 liquid cup corn syrup (I use honey)
1 # or 2 c unsalted butter (must be softened)
1 to 2 oz or 2-4 T liqueur, eau-de-vie (I add 2 t vanilla)

All ingredients should be at room temperature.
Have ready a 1 or 2 c greased, heat-proof glass measure near the range.
This recipe is easiest with a stand mixer, but you can also use a heavy-duty hand mixer.
1. Place egg yolks in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until they are light in color (this will take several minutes in a stand mixer, and several more with a hand mixer).
2. Meanwhile, combine sugar and honey in a small saucepan (preferably with a non-stick lining, but my stainless steel one has always worked well for me) and heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a rolling boil (the entire surface will be covered with large bubbles). Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking. 3. If using a hand-held mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of the bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks with the mixer turned off. Immediately beat at high-speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure. Continue beating until completely cooled (this will take several minutes – use the time to clean your glass measure and saucepan before it gets too sticky!). 4. Gradually beat in the butter and, if desired, any optional flavoring. Place in an airtight bowl. Bring to room temperature before using. Re-beat to restore texture.

Pointers – The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the butter cream will be too thin. Don’t allow the syrup to fall directly onto the stand mixer paddle as it will spin the syrup around the sides of the bowl and create a giant mess. Using a hand mixer for this portion can make this easier.

chocolate cake


When In Need of a Comfort Activity

A comfort activity. That’s what I needed this afternoon while I continue to wait, wait, wait for that telephone call that starts with, “We are on our way to the hospital. Sarah’s in active labor.” Alas, how to fill the time until that call comes?

How else? Bake!

Don’t ask me why but lately I’ve had a need, a wish, a craving to master – or at least try to halfway master – making yeast breads. I want to knead dough, watch it rise, punch it down, have it rise again, and then see it brown in my oven, emitting that delectable smell only yeast breads, whether plain, sweet or savory, can produce.

I have an indelible memory of that delicious yeasty scent wafting from the kitchen at the Gem Cafe, the restaurant my Uncle Doc and Aunt Dana owned in my hometown. That kitchen produced the most delicious yeast rolls I’ve ever eaten.

But today I didn’t want to make yeast rolls. I’ll save that for a family dinner. Instead, I wanted to try my hand again at a honey-sweetened cinnamon roll. I say again because I tried last week – another day when a comfort activity was needed – and those rolls flopped. Hard, no rise at all, and just plain bad. Today, I wanted a second chance to see if I could create a cinnamon roll minus refined sugar that had the rise and softness of a good yeast roll, plus all the cinnamony sweetness that makes for a delicious bun.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a tasty homemade honey-sweetened cinnamon roll. Try several years back before Mani’s Bakery closed here in LA. They were the only place that made honey-sweetened goodies that were actually eatable in all of Los Angeles, or, at least, that I knew about, and I make it my business to know about these things. Hence, my desire for success…

Let me cut to the chase.

This batch of cinnamon rolls is soft, thick, sweet and gloriously gooey.

I am feeling exceedingly pleased.

Below is the recipe I used and pictures of the process in my kitchen. Let it be said that honey-sweetened treats CAN be as good, if not better, than those with white sugar. Plus, they supply nutrients! Off the bandwagon I go, but I think pretty much anybody would taste these and say, “Hmmm. This is GOOD.” In fact, I had a taste-tester who said just that.

Mission accomplished.

Now I just need to get that phone call.

Here is the recipe, friends, for any of you who are interested. I’d love to hear how your baking fares if you decide you need a comfort activity, too.

Until tomorrow.


Sticky Honey Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 3 hrs Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins Serves: 16, Yield: 16 rolls


3/4 cup water
1 large egg
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
5 tablespoons melted butter
5 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons powdered milk

Make the dough in your machine on the Dough setting. (if you don’t have a bread machine mix ingredients together in the order stated and then let rise, then roll out.).
Roll out the dough into a 12 X 16 inch rectangle.
Combine filling ingredients and spread over dough, leaving a narrow border all around. Beginning at one long side, roll into a cylinder and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 16 1-inch thick slices.
Butter a 9 X 13 inch pan. Combine glaze ingredients and pour into pan. Lay rolls on top of glaze. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled.
Place the pan on a baking sheet (to catch any drips). Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm.

Here is the process from start to finish:

IMG_1540 IMG_1541 IMG_1542 IMG_1544 IMG_1545 IMG_1548 IMG_1550

Revisited: 5-Star Gingersnap Recipe

Today I modified America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for gingersnap cookies to fit into my non-refined sugar criteria. That mean basically just substituting white sugar with maple sugar.

The results were excellent. The cookies have a real snap and they are filled with freshly ground ginger for a nice little kick.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe I can declare this the best gingersnap recipe EVER. That’s what America’s Test Kitchen does, after all. They take the best recipes for a dish or dessert and work out all the kinks before presenting them to the public.

The secret to the recipe below is browning the butter. This removes excessive moisture. Also, it’s important to move the baking sheet down from the top level to the middle rack 1/2 way through the backing.

Here is the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen:



We wanted to put the “snap” back in Gingersnap cookies. This meant creating a cookie that not only breaks cleanly in half and crunches satisfyingly with every bite but also has an assertive ginger flavor and heat. The key to texture was reducing the moisture in the final baked cookie.
Makes 80 1½-inch cookies

For the best results, use fresh spices. For efficiency, form the second batch of cookies while the first batch bakes. And no, the 2 teaspoons of baking soda is not a mistake; it’s essential to getting the right texture.


2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch cayenne
1 1/4 cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar (or maple sugar if you’re worried about eating refined sugar)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar (Or maple sugar if not using refined)


1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.

3. Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls.

TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.


Using a full 2 teaspoons of baking soda in our cookie dough instead of the more typical ½ to 1 teaspoon not only helped create desirable fissures in the final cookie but also helped it dry out. Baking soda is an alkaline substance that weakens the gluten (the network of proteins that gives most baked goods their structure) in a dough or batter. Weaker gluten means a more porous structure from which air bubbles and moisture can burn off. It also means that the dough will collapse after its initial rise in the oven, leading to cracks that also allow more moisture to escape.


The hallmark of gingersnap cookie texture—big crunch—came down to one key factor: drying out the dough.

BROWN THE BUTTER Butter is 16 percent water. Browning it before whisking it with the sugar, eggs, and flour eliminates moisture.

CUT BACK ON SUGAR The brown sugar in our recipe holds on to water, even after baking. Our solution? Use just 1 1/4 cups.

TURN DOWN THE OVEN Baking the cookies in a low (300-degree) oven gives the dough ample time to gradually—but thoroughly—dry out.

STAGGER THE BAKING Baking each tray on the top rack before moving it to the cooler bottom rack creates fissures that allow moisture to escape.

Pictures of My Cookies Made Today


cookie 1

A 5-Star Orange Cookie Sweetened with Honey or Agave

This is a great tasting holiday cookie recipe that is tried and true. Of course, fresh orange juice from the oranges in our grove would be best, but you can use any oranges you buy in the market. These cookies are light, orangey and delicious.

Happy holidays!

Orange Cookies
Adapted from Rodale’s Naturally Delicious Desserts and Snacks by Faye Martin
(One of the best cookbooks EVER for honey and maple-sweetened desserts)

½ cup butter
½ cup warmed honey or agave
1 egg
3 teaspoons grated orange peel
½ cup fresh orange juice
¾ teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup maple sugar (I added this ingredient for a little more sweetness)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Combine butter, honey, egg, and orange peel. Mix well. Add orange juice and dry ingredients, combining thoroughly. Let dough stand for 15 minutes. (I didn’t do this and the cookies were just fine).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Drop by the teaspoonful 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Dough spreads during baking.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 dozen 2 inch cookies or 2 dozen three inch cookies (This is what I made.)

These are delicately flavored and not overly sweet. They are very nice with tea.


Milk Toast

When I was growing up my dad made me milk toast when I was sick. This consisted of two slices of toasted Mrs. Baird’s bread torn up and placed in a big bowl, then covered with warm milk sweetened with sugar. One pat of butter went on top to add a little extra richness. Milk toast was my dad’s way of acknowledging my illness and bringing a little comfort. I would sit up in bed with a tv tray across my lap and he would place the bowl on the tray. Then he’d sit and talk to me until I was finished eating.

Pure love – simple and true.

Tonight I toasted two Hawaiian rolls leftover from Thanksgiving, tore them into pieces, tossed them into a big bowl, then added heated milk with honey. No butter for me, but still very satisfying.

It was as though my daddy was sitting right there while I ate.

Pure love – timeless and true.

Love spans decades, perhaps even eons.

What a great comfort that is to know.

Sleep well, my friends. I am headed upstairs to bed at this late hour of 7:15.

Until tomorrow…

milk toast

5 Star Orange Cookie Recipe

The recipe below is one that I shared a couple of years ago, but it’s so good it is well worth repeating. These cookies are delicately flavored and not overly sweet. They are very nice with tea.

This recipe is adapted from Rodale’s Naturally Delicious Desserts and Snacks by Faye Martin. In my opinion, this is one of the best cookbooks EVER for honey and maple-sweetened desserts.

Let me know if you try them!

Orange Cookies

½ cup butter
½ cup warmed honey or agave
1 egg
3 teaspoons grated orange peel
½ cup fresh orange juice
¾ teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup maple sugar (I added this ingredient for a little more sweetness)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Combine butter, honey, egg, and orange peel. Mix well. Add orange juice and dry ingredients, combining thoroughly. Let dough stand for 15 minutes. (I didn’t do this and the cookies were just fine).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Drop by the teaspoonful 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Dough spreads during baking.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 dozen 2-inch cookies or 2 dozen three-inch cookies (This is what I made.)