Friday, July 15, 2005

SHF #10: Honey

honeycomb, originally uploaded by emily loke.

Honey is a beautiful thing. Thick, sweet and ranging in colours from gold to deep amber, honey is liquid sugar on fire. Its glows with both sweet innocence and blatant sensuality, stirring up memories both naughty and nice upon gliding over one’s taste buds. That’s the best thing about honey – its split personality. For every mother doling it out as a throat soothing remedy to her child, there is a hedonist licking it straight off her fingers; for every proper lady spooning it into her cup at high tea, there is a gamine dusting her body in edible honey powder. Few things are as charmingly contradictory.

Honey’s adaptability was, in this case, (and I hate to say it) a hindrance to me. Not being able to think of a single thing that wouldn’t benefit from its gold touch definitely stems from my personal bias: I could eat honey on anything. Therein lay yet another dilemma – as if trying to narrow my field down wasn’t hard enough, I was also obligated (out of my passion for honey) to make something truly worth bearing its regal colour. My indecisiveness tormented me for days.

Finally, inspiration materialized in the unlikely form of S., A.’s decidedly non-epicurean friend. After hearing me rant about the impossibility of being able to pin honey down to a single, fabulous dish, it was suggested by S. that I slice up an apple and dip it in honey. The irreverence! I almost collapsed in convulsions.

Before I could come up with a suitably scathing remark, however, I felt a faint memory of the offending suggestion niggle my brain. Apples and honey – I knew I’d never eaten them together like that before, yet the combination seemed familiar somehow. Then it dawned on me – Silk Apples! – and just like that, apples had won a leading role in the final dish.

It all fell into place from there. As though the stopper had been pulled from the Bottle of All Revelations, inspiration began coursing through my veins as I snatched bottles, tins and jars from cupboards. The kitchen stove glowed through the steam that whistled up from the myriad of pots on it, and I scurried about, mixing, stirring and whipping like a woman possessed. Till I burnt my thumb, that is, which started a terrible chain reaction ending in A. calling a ‘Kitchen Time-Out’ and gallantly proceeding to make the sesame snaps for me. I love this man.

To me, the final product was well worth the two-person effort, burnt thumb, and Time-Out – after all, this is honey we’re talking about! The dessert, affectionately christened ‘The Silk Road at Sunset’ by A. and I, is a geography lesson on a plate. Trying to incorporate as many flavours from regions along the silk road as possible was tricky, but ultimately very gratifying…in more ways than one. Not only did it turn out tasting melodiously complex, it also made a honey lover out of A.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ll be outside and under that beehive, worshipping at the alter of honey.

silk road at sunset, originally uploaded by emily loke.

The Silk Road at Sunset
Honey Date Cake:

4 tbs honey
¼ cup butter
¾ cup flour
1 egg
½ cup ground almonds
¾ cup chopped dates
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Cream the butter and the honey together, then add the egg and beat well.
3. Mix in all the other ingredients except the dates, and beat till mixed.
4. Mix in the dates with a wooden spoon or spatula.
5. Pat the batter (it should be fairly sticky) into a square cake tin, and bake for 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
6. When cooled, use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of cake. Set aside.

Plum and Ginger Compote and Coulis:

8 black plums, peeled, pitted and chopped into cubes. Reserve skin.
3/4 cup honey
2 tbs ground ginger

1. Mix plum cubes, honey, and ginger in a saucepan and cook on med. heat till bubbling and and until you notice plums losing their colour.
2. Remove the compote and return liquid back to the pan.
3. Throw plum skins into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until desired colour is reached.
4. Sieve honey and skin mixture into bowl, discard skins. Set coulis aside.

Honey Sesame Snaps (From

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2cup white sesame seeds
1/4cup black sesame seeds
1cup all-purpose flour
Zest of 1/2 orange(about 1 tablespoon)
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper, and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, combine confectioners' sugar, butter, honey, and orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
3. Remove pan from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients. Cool to room temperature.
4. Pipe lines of the batter with a small round nozzle (about ¼ inch) 4 inches apart from each other and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to touch, but still pliable, wrap sesame sheets around cake rounds and set aside to harden.

Silk Apples:

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges about ½ inch thick.
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 tbs peanut or vegetable oil.
1 large bowl of cold water and ice

1. Cook everything but apples in a small saucepan till mixture reaches hard crack stage (or turns amber in colour)
2. Toss the apples into the mixture and coat well
3. Drop coated apple slices into the bowl of ice and water.
4. Remove wedges and pat dry. Set aside.


1. Set cake rounds with their sesame collars on plates.
2. Brush cakes with some plum coulis.
3. Top cakes with plum compote.
4. Fan a few slices of the Silk Apples out next to the cake.
5. Drizzle or drip plate with plum coulis.