“Now is the time for apiarists to harvest their reward. Honey has been used as a sweetener since ancient times, in everything from Ottoman Turkish baklava to alcoholic mead, and my bee-sting cake, made to a traditional German recipe. You could use whipped cream to fill the cake, but I make a honey crème pâtissière, which is useful in its own right for making fruit tarts or honey choux buns”

Bee-sting cake

Serves 4

Ingredients

250g plain flour
11⁄2tspn dried yeast
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
100ml whole milk
50ml honey
Half a teaspoon vanilla-bean
paste
65g unsalted butter, a little
bit softer than room
temperature

Honey crème pâtissière

3 egg yolks
50g honey
10g plain flour
10g cornflour
200ml whole milk
50ml single cream
Half a teaspoon vanilla-bean
paste
Icing sugar for dusting

Topping

100g butter
100g caster sugar
50g honey
75g single cream
100g flaked almonds

Method

Add all the cake ingredients to a bowl and mix together, ideally with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but a wooden spoon will work just as well. Once thoroughly mixed, set to one side, cover it with clingfilm and leave it to rise for one hour. The mixture will expand in volume.

Make the crème pâtissière by placing the egg yolks and honey into a bowl and whisking them together until frothy. Add the flour and cornflour and mix again. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the milk, cream and vanilla-bean paste until simmering. Add a couple of ladles of the heated milk to the eggs and whisk well. Pour the egg mixture into the heavy-based pan and heat for a couple of minutes, whisking continuously. Once thickened, turn it into a chilled bowl, dust it with icing sugar so a film doesn’t form, and place it in the fridge until ready to use.

Prepare an 8in round cake tin by greasing it generously with butter. Give the mixture a few stirs to knock it back a little and then pour it into the prepared tin. Leave for 30 minutes. While the cake is standing, make the topping. Place all the ingredients, except the almonds, into a saucepan and heat them until you have a lightly coloured caramel sauce, then add the almonds and stir well. Remove from the heat and pour it over the cake dough, spreading it as evenly as possible.

Ten minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Bake the cake in the oven for 30 minutes. Check the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer-if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

To serve, slice the cake horizontally in two. Spread with the crème pâtissière and place the top back on. To add the finishing touch, make the bees by rolling marzipan into balls and piping thin lines of chocolate on as stripes and eyes and using flaked almonds for wings. Stick toothpicks into them and place them on the cake.

More ways with honey

Honey-and-soy-marinaded salmon

To make four Asian-style salmon fillets, whisk together 3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 crushed clove of garlic and a squeeze
of chilli paste. Place the salmon fillets and marinade into a freezer bag and leave for the flavours to infuse for at least an hour, after which you can discard the mari-nade. Place the salmon fillets in a moderately heated oven for 20 minutes. Serve with steamed bok choi and brown rice for a healthy, fresh and simple supper.

Honey-and-blackberry quinoa crumble

At this time of year, blackberries are abundant in every hedgerow. Once you get your blackberries home, place them in an ovenproof dish and generously drizzle them with honey. In a separate bowl, use your fingertips to rub together 250g white spelt flour, 175g unsalted butter, 150g brown sugar and 75g quinoa flakes (available in large supermarkets and health-food shops). Spread the crumble mixture over the blackberries and bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes.

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