Recipe: Polish Honey Lemon Cake

It’s time for another recipe! First, the recipe. Then, me blathering onward about my occasionally questionable culinary capabilities and the memories that Polish Honey Lemon Cake holds for me.

The Ingredients

3 large eggs, whisked super well

½ cup (100gms) dark brown sugar

¾ cup (180ml) applesauce

1 cup (350gms) honey, the stronger the better

1 cup strong vanilla, lemon, or chamomile tea, cooled to lukewarm

3 cups (375gms) flour, sifted 

1 lemon, zested super finely

1 tablespoon crystallized lemon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon extract

½ teaspoon powdered ginger

½ teaspoon salt

Lemon Icing glaze:

1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon or more of crystallized lemon

1 teaspoon salted butter

Pinch of salt

The Way of Preparing

Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour a 10-12 cup non-stick Bundt pan or two 9” by 5” loaf pans.

Use a stand mixer for this recipe if possible. Beat the eggs until super fluffy. Add brown sugar and applesauce and mix until smooth. Add the honey, extract, and tea and continue beating until smooth as silk.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt. Mix in the crystallized lemon and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until there are still small lumps left, like pancake batter.

Pour the batter immediately into your prepared pan or pans. 

Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 50 to 55 minutes, turning once mid-bake. You want a toothpick to come out clean when inserted into the deepest part of the cake. 

Let the honey cake cool for at least ten minutes, I do fifteen since I usually do some sort of soak as it cools. Invert onto a plate or serving dish to cool. 

This only keeps, covered, about five days. But, it is one that toasts up well as a good dessert or sweet breakfast food. 

Icing:

Mix confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Add salted butter and microwave on high for 45 seconds. 

Whisk until smooth. Add a splash of milk if it is too thick. Let it sit for seven minutes, then pour over cooled cake.

Tweaks:

My secret? Pour some limoncello over the base of the cake when it’s still cooling in the pan; once it’s turned out-you guessed it, pour some over the top as well. Or add it to the lemon glaze. Or both! Cakes, much like some of my in-laws, are so much better when they’re drunk. 

Memories:

This cake is straight from Granny Comic, in Chicago. She’s not quite my grandmother, but she is in heart. She’s Uncle Comic’s mom and the feistiest little thing ever. A lot of the holiday retro recipes will be ones from her old cookbook that she gifted me with.

December’s Retro Recipe, In Granny Comic’s own hand!

I’m excited to share her recipes and have the world know a little more about Granny Comic. I’ll be asking Uncle Comic to share his anecdotes about certain recipes, or providing ones I have about them. Her gingerbread recipe is especially one of my favorites.

As a bonus, here’s a picture I found and shared in a FB group!

Happy cooking, friends!