I love the taste of honey. Not the corporate, flavorless honey farm stuff you buy from the grocery store in a bear shaped or mundane bottle either. I like the honey you can purchase from independent bee keepers who put up their own sweet stuff. I like that you can, if you pay attention, taste where the bees have been and exactly where they've harvested nectar. My last supervisor kept bees and put up her own honey as a hobby. She and her bees lived near peach and apple orchards. The honey from her bees was quite simply, stupendous. She lost a lot of bees in the beginning but ultimately got what she was after: the nectar of the Gods.
My grandmother Irma, the Belgian immigrant, made the best batter bread with honey as the star ingredient. Sunday, I baked some of this bread from honey bottled in Missouri and purchased from Detroit's Eastern Market. It has a tart, almost lemony tang to it. (When I googled the city in Missouri that this honey comes from, I found all kinds of ads for berry farms. I don't really appreciate berry flavoring in it though.) I'll share my grannie's recipe in case I've sparked some interest. Usually, this treat is something our family makes around Christmas and definitely eats on Christmas morning. The best way to eat this treat is served warm and slathered with butter:
Irma's Honey Bread
Warning: you need a deep, large bowl. If you need to convert our archaic U.S. measurements, go here.
3 large eggs, beaten 2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup honey 1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups of warm milk 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons of baking soda 5 cups of all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together. Add milk, honey and baking soda. Mix well. Blend in the flour a little at a time. Mix for 10 minutes on high speed. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour in greased loaf pans. A knife, inserted in the center of the loaf should come out clean.
Now, I've never fluctuated once from this recipe-even the beating for 10 minutes part. I just set my Kitchen Aid mixer to high and do other things like grease the pans while the machine helps the ingredients develop into a heavenly concoction. I recommend making this just as instructed. Don't overfill your loaf pans either-this bread will rise up in the center while baking. You don't want the smell of charred bread baking on the floor of your oven to spoil the moment. Incidentally, my friends are always happy to get a loaf of this bread as a holiday gift. It bakes up well in those disposable loaf pans and you don't have to worry about when you'll get your pan back. It also freezes well. If you've found yourself addicted to honey bread and you are eating a lot of it, go here.
The next family secret I'll share is my Auntie Tina's walnut bread. You will think you died and went to heaven when you eat this. I'm going to start making those gifts next month to give to my family and friends. It's OK to share this family secret-Auntie Tina is gone from us now. There isn't any reason her legacy shouldn't be shared.
Since I've spilled some family secrets here today, what about divulging one of yours? I'm willing to give it a whirl in my kitchen. What's your favorite top secret family recipe?