A couple of weeks ago, my brother received a gift from one of his professors at uni. He also studies English, like me. In fact, he studies at the same university, which is obviously very cool and awesome! Not that we run into each other a lot at school, but just the fact that my brother knows the same people (and professors) that I know, makes for a lot of fun (and sometimes frustrated) conversations!
Luckily, most of our professors are just really nice, helpful people who just happen to be a little obsessed with their respective fields of study, such as Shakespeare, Victorian literature or Zadie Smith.
Or Game of Thrones…
So, a few weeks ago, my brother received an entire bottle of homemade mead from one of his professors. I have never actually met that particular professor because I’ve never been in one of her courses, but I know she wrote her PhD on Beowulf!
Plus, she once greeted me in the elevator and when I went to pick up my Bachelor’s Degree diploma I shook her hand. So yeah, I know who she is…
Mead is also known as honey wine or ‘nectar of the Gods’. Don’t get too excited though… They came up with that title before anyone had ever heard about chocolate! To us, twenty-first-century people, it’s just wine. A sweet wine made with honey. And you can make an incredible, Christmasy cake with it! A Honey Syrup Bundt Cake with Mead! The recipe for this cake is very easy, because it’s made with a boxed yellow cake mix and some added spices and lemon zest.
Like I said: peanuts…
I think it’s always a good idea to have a simple recipe such as this up your sleeve around this time of year. It just makes getting everything ready for Christmas so much easier! Depending on the temperature of your butter, you can whip this cake up in under 10 minutes, which gives you 50 minutes to either do other Christmasy stuff such as gift wrapping or relax beside the fire place, sipping hot chocolate.
All up to you…
I know that getting a perfect Bundt cake can be a little frustrating. You want it to come out beautifully, looking exactly like the Bundt pan… However,it’s easy to end up with a Bundts with a greasy, oily, uncooked top (after having been inverted) or scorched bottom. Or the inner crust of your Bundt doesn’t cook all the way through…
So here are some tips to get the perfect Bundt:
The first thing you’ll need, is a metal Bundt pan. Metal distributes the heat of the oven a lot better than silicon. On top of that, the silicon molds are flexible and will not hold their shape when 2 liters of batter is poured into them. Worst of all, when you want to take your cake out of the oven or unmold it, the cake can break as the flexible silicon mold bends under the weight of the cake.
The next thing you want to do is making sure that your butter has the right temperature. If the butter you’re using is too warm and soft, it will just fall through the rest of the batter (the eggs and flour) as the cake bakes, resulting in a greasy, wet top.
Not very attractive…
Unlike this pretty Bundt!
To get the perfect Bundt cake, you need to first butter the metal Bundt pan with a little cold butter, flour it and then place it in the fridge for a couple of minutes so the butter can firm up again. To make the batter, you’ll need butter that has been cubed cold and which has then been allowed to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. It should give a little if you try to press you finger in it, but it shouldn’t be a blob of half melted butter and it shouldn’t look oily… To make sure the butter in the batter is cool enough, place the bowl of batter in the fridge for about 15 minutes before pouring the batter into the pan.
To make sure the cake cooks completely through, tube edges and all, bake it in a fan forced oven. The fan will blow hot air around the cake and through the tube of your Bundt pan. This ensures that the inner edge of your cake (the edge that comes into contact with the tube’s metal) cooks just like the outer edge of the cake. Aka: the tube edge will have that same, crunchy crust!
You can even give the cake a final little blast in the fan forced oven after you’ve taken it out of the pan. I always do that, because it gives the cake an even crunchier crust.
But don’t worry, you don’t need to remember all of this!
It’s all in the recipe…
But what about the mead?
Well, to make this already gorgeous, spicy cake extra special and Christmasy, I soaked it with a beautiful honey & mead syrup. It’s incredibly easy to make. Just gently warm a little honey in a small pan and stir in the mead.
The mead works brilliantly in this recipe. Whereas the honey would be way too sweet on its own, the acidity of the wine balances out the sweetness while the sweet honey tones of the wine really complement the delicate flavor of the honey.
If you can’t get your hands on mead, just substitute the mead for a sweet white wine to balance out the sweetness of the honey…
If you ask me, it’s the perfect Christmas cake: sweet and spicy with a little boozy kick to it!
It’s not too late to run out to the store and get yourself a lemon, some cake mix and a little white wine! Or you may have all of it in your pantry already!
Aaaaand: only 3 days before my Christmas Giveaway closes!
- butter for the pan and flour to dust it
- 400g (14 oz.) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature*
- 2 boxes (about 400g or 14 oz. each) yellow cake mix
- the zest of ¾ lemon
- ¾ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 120ml (or ½ cup) honey
- 3 tablespoons mead (or substitute with a light, sweet white wine)
- Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F (fan forced setting) and lightly butter a metal, 2-liter/8-cup Bundt pan with cold butter, rubbing it into all the little nooks and crannies. I wouldn't advise you to use baking spray for this, because it can give the cake an unpleasant oily flavor. Flour the pan by adding about half a cup of flour to it and turning it around until it's evenly floured. Tap out the excess flour and place the pan in the fridge for about 5 minutes to cool the butter.
- In the meantime, make the batter. In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs on at a time and mix until incorporated. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the 2 boxes of cake mix, the zest and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula. Once the dry ingredients have somewhat absorbed the wet, use the mixer to mix it to a fluffy batter. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every now and then as you mix. Place the batter into the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool a little. After the batter has chilled, carefully pour it into the prepared pan and bake it on the lower rack of the oven (I placed it on the rack right below the middle rack, because my oven has 4 racks), making sure that the center of the pan is in the center of the oven. Bake for abut 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- In the meantime, make the honey mead glaze. I you can't get your hands on mead (or honey wine) substitute with sweet white wine. To a small saucepan, add the honey. Heat over low heat, stirring continuously until the honey becomes very runny. Add the mead (or white wine) and stir to combine. Take the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool.
- Once the cake is done, take it out of the oven and leave to sit for about 15 minutes. Then place a cool oven wire rack over the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Place back in the oven for about 15 minutes to crisp up. If your cake is crispy already after you've inverted it, you can skip this part.
- Once the cake has crisped up, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before carefully placing it back into the Bundt pan. Prick the bottom of the cake all over with a fork and slowly drizzle on about half of the honey syrup. Let sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes to ensure that the glaze seeps into the cake, then invert the cake onto a cake plate. Prick the top and sides of the cake with a fork, then slowly pour over the rest of the honey syrup, allowing the syrup to sink into the cake as much as possible. Some syrup will probably run down the sides of the cake and form a syrupy pool around the base of the cake, but that is fine. Just make sure the cake is sitting on a highish-edged plate. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature before diving in. This ensures that the cake has time to soak up the syrup.
- Also great the next day!