We were passed this recipe found through a church bulletin last month. We love sharing church recipes because many of our favourite cooks are the church men and ladies! Finally, we are able to make this cake, and motivated because it came from a church! And, as Greek Orthodox Christians, we believe in sharing our faith, and, for us, it means sharing our special "finds", too. This recipe is posted on Lenten-Season.com and that was put into a church bulletin. So, when we were told about this website, we had to look! And, Ka. Maria (who gave us the recipe) told us that she has already made this cake two times for her grandchildren in this Lenten season! We are half-way through Great Lent, so she may have to make it a few more times!
This cake recipe is origianally from a Monastery, but we have not found out which one. It seemed easy enough, and we do like the monastery recipes that we have made in the past, so this would be a "win-win" baking day. As we read the ingredients, one in particular stood out of the list. That was the "strong tea". This was something that we rarely think of for flavouring things, even though we have heard that teas make all kinds of foods tastier. And, we have used coffee as a flavouring numerous times, so why not try tea for ourselves?
Typically, every house will have some tea bags of some sort. There was no specified flavour in this recipe, so we thought we should stick to something basic. When you think about a honey cake with a little cinnamon and sugar, what flavours come to your mind? For us, we immediately went to the cinnamon spice tea that we have. Although, we did consider some of the fruit teas, too, because we sometimes drink those with a splash of honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon. The ones we ruled out immediately included mint tea and lemon tea. Those flavours did not sound like they would be good here. After all, if there is cinnamon in the recipe, why not enhance that lovely spice with just a little more!
Although we made half the recipe, we are giving you the full amounts. It is really that good that you are going to want to make the full recipe!
For this recipe, you will need the following:
1 cup honey
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour plus about 1/2 cup at the end
1 cup strong tea, cooled
1 teaspoon baking soda
The first thing that you need to do is make a cup of tea. This is not for you to sit and relax, that comes later! This is so the tea has plenty of time to steep and cool so it can be used in the recipe. You can drink whatever part of the cup is leftover, if there is any, and relax once the cake is in the oven. In the meantime, make 1 cup (8 ounces or 225 g) of strong tea. If you are not sure how to make it strong, you can either use two tea bags in the one cup of water, or make a pot of tea and boil it down so it reduces by half.
In a bowl, mix the honey and sugar well. You will notice the honey becomes thicker and the colour a lighter shade.
Slowly add the oil, mixing well as you go. If you are mixing by hand, you may not see this come together as well as it would with a mixer. But, keep trying because eventually the ingredients become incorporated.
Add the 1 1/2 cups flour and fold the mixture together. You will notice that the flour binds the oil and the honey together well. Fold so the flour is mostly combined. Then, add the cinnamon. Fold this once or twice to incorporate the cinnamon. Let this sit for a moment while doing the next step.
Before you add the next ingredients, you must mix the baking soda into the tea. Give the tea a stir to make sure that the soda is fully dissolved. Now, slowly pour in the cooled tea to the flour and honey mixture. As you stir this, you will see everything mixing well. You may need to make the batter a little thicker, so add a bit of flour to get the mixture to a cake batter consistency. Start by adding 1/4 cup, then another 1/4 cup, and more if you need. But, try not to mix vigorously so you don't end up with a super chewy cake! Fold until the ingredients are well combined.
Grease and flour a baking pan, or use pan spray like we did. For a full recipe, you will need to prepare a 9" by 13" (22.5 cm x 33.5 cm) pan. The cake batter should be thick like a traditional cake batter, but thin enough to pour into the baking pan. For a crisp top, sprinkle some granulated sugar over the top of the cake batter, as many people do when making muffins. This adds a nice texture to the top, and a smidgen more sweetness to dessert.
Put the cake in a preheated oven set at 350º F (about 175º C). Allow this cake to bake for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven. You can check the doneness in the same ways you do a traditional layer cake -- stick a toothpick in the centre to see if it comes out clean, feel the centre of the cake for firmness, make sure the edges of the cake are pulling away from the sides of the pan, and check the top and bottom of the cake for colour and firmness, and the smell, of course! Oh, and the smell of the cinnamon… mmmm!
Allow the cake to cool before cutting. It can be served plain or dusted with powdered sugar (icing sugar/confectioner's sugar), or with berries. You can also serve it with tea! Any way you serve it, we are sure that it will be enjoyable. We are delighted that we were able to make this recipe and share it, as it was shared with us. Thank you to Ka. Maria for passing along her Church bulletin!
"Leave all human injustices to the Lord, for God is the Judge, but as to yourself, be diligent in loving everybody with a pure heart..."
From St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ: Part 1, Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 270)