just like honey

While in hindsight I did do quite a lot of baking as I was growing up, it wasn’t to the point where it was really obvious that I’d start blogging fervidly about food a few years later. Like, if ever questioned about food in my childhood you’re not going to hear me recount stories of instinctively rolling out pastry with an empty vermouth bottle found on the floor and studding it with halved plums from the orchard; or learning to handmake pasta while sitting on my great-great-grandmother’s floury knee. I think I’ve read too many interviews with chefs who had romantic-sounding upbringings. Ain’t nothing whimsical about 2-minute noodles and mass-produced “Kids Can Cook” books sponsored by 2-minute noodle companies, but…I seemed to have turned out okay.
There are a few recipes from my childhood which stick with me though, and which occasionally twinge both my heartstrings and tastebuds. Today’s recipe for Honeybuns is dairy free – as promised last week, in horrified reaction to $6 blocks of butter at the supermarket – and it’s one that Mum, and sometimes Mum and myself together, made a lot in my childhood. This isn’t simply nostalgia for its own hackneyed, rose-tinted-in-photoshop sake, these are in fact very very good. I had the urge to make them a while back and asked Mum to email me the recipe from the – if I remember rightly – pink scrapbook with big yellow flowers on it. I have this feeling that these were made so often that I was even nostalgic about them at like, aged 12, although that might be now-me trying to heap extra significance on these plain little cakes. (Which reminds me of that flawless film A Mighty Wind: “to do ‘then’ now would be retro, to do ‘then’ then was very nowtro”. I actually had an extremely vivid dream recently that Tim and I traveled to San Francisco and Fred Willard – who plays Mike LaFontaine in AMW – and Jake Gyllenhaal were shooting a movie on the street – some kind of comedy-Renaissance movie in fact – and I approached Fred and told him that I thought A Mighty Wind was a flawless film and in fact if I had to find a fault with it, it would be that it was too zealously edited and could’ve been longer. Jake was ignored until I asked him to take a photo of me and Fred. It was one of those dreams where you wake up thinking “YUSSS-ohhh wait.”)
Even if you don’t usually read through the recipe itself, I prod at you to sweep your eyes over this one – check out how fast and easy and ingredients-light it is. It’s one of those recipes you can make when you’re out of most cool ingredient-y things.
Honey Buns

I don’t know where the recipe itself is from originally…expect Mum will fill in the blanks in the comments.

125g honey
5 T oil (I use Rice Bran)
Good pinch salt
4 T water
125g wholewheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F. If your honey is particularly solid, gently microwave or heat on stove till it’s runny. Whisk in the oil, salt and water, then sift in the flour and baking soda together (I don’t usually sift, but a few bad experiences with baking soda make me sift when it’s included in a recipe) and whisk thoroughly till there aren’t any lumps. Finally, mix in the two eggs. It’ll be quite a liquidy mixture. Spoon into your chosen cases and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Cover with tinfoil if they get too brown. If you don’t have wholewheat flour, plain is fine.
I would recommend if you can, switching the water for orange juice – from a carton/bottle is fine, although if you’ve got enough actual oranges, squeeze away. Its acidy freshness points up the fragrant nature of the honey no end.
These are actually much, much nicer than their squat, monotone appearance suggests. They’re definitely plain to look at (hence the jazzy orange plate!) but the honey gives them surprising depth and a sticky, date-like sweetness kept in check by by the pinch of salt. They keep for quite a long time and even as its crumbs start to clench and become dry, a zap in the microwave and a spreading of butter (well, I can never keep it too far out of arm’s reach) livens them up again. But in honesty, I took a couple to work today and it was only laziness that stopped me going to the microwave and my block of butter, and they really were just perfect without. I don’t say this lightly or anything. And, back to the original issue, as these don’t even gasp out for butter, you could remain $6 richer for a little bit longer.
Tim and I went to Lower Hutt last night to see the Speakeasy Theatre production of RENT at the Little Theatre. Having now racked up four different versions of RENT nationwide, I can easily say it was one of the strongest-voiced, best acted and excellently directed ones I’ve seen. The sound system was a bit shoddy, which was a shame as some nice harmonies were lost, but it really deserves to be seen, so if you’re within cooee of Lower Hutt move fast because its last show is Saturday night. Tim wasn’t exactly euphoric at being there but did concede that the singing was fantastic.
I don’t find it surprising that the whole “Wellywood sign” thing has caught the awareness of so many. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a terrible idea. Putting aside the emphatically negative response from the public, the shuddery feeling that everyone else will think we did want it, the lack of relevance to NZ, the words “bucket list” being used as a reason, and the general marring of the landscape that it will bring…it just feels like an outrageous waste of money at a time like this. Or ever. I hope it doesn’t go ahead.

Title via: The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Just Like Honey from Psychocandy. I really like this song, even though with those opening drums I always think it’s going to be the Ronettes, and then can’t help being slightly disappointed in spite of myself.
Music lately:

Typing this word as many times as I have done just now, my thoughts turn to that another excellent song named after that excellent substance, Mariah Carey’s Honey from the album Butterfly.
Walk on By, a fantastic song from local band Diana Rozz. We’d seen them before but not for a long time – then caught their album release show at Happy on Saturday night and they were so much fun, so cool, so noisy…even the people on the door were hilarious.

Next time: Mum sent me another childhood recipe upon my request the other day, but I might space out all that nostalgia-tripping with a Martin Bosley recipe for pork belly. Also: the Wellington leg of The Food Show is this weekend and I’m SO excited. Hopefully there’s cheap halloumi and generous soymilk samples like last year!

10 thoughts on “just like honey

  1. Georgi Hampton says:

    Sometimes it's the plainest looking things that are the most delicious .. something to do with expectations, or lack of them? I love honey, these will be delicious made with manuka honey and perfect for my newly dairy-free flatmate (who dearly misses baking with dairy in it).. yum!


  2. Mairi@Toast says:

    I think they look so cute! And orange instead of water would be delish. Or maybe even warmed and doused with some sort of honey orange syrup….hungry now & want to go home & bake 🙂


  3. Kay says:

    Same comment as for the scones… you could substitute green ginger wine for the orange juice. Will check the origin of the recipe – but, from memory, it came from some earnest cook book about healthy eating for your children. The recipe book is circa 1975 from (your Aunt) Lynn. Hence the pink (actually faded purple) yellow and orange cover.


  4. heartbreak pie says:

    Honeybuns, gorgeous! I have the same feelings about my culinary (or lack thereof) childhood. I get asked that kind of stuff too and flail around trying to remember! This is the kind of thing I definitely would have been able to manage though 🙂


  5. Zo @ Two Spoons says:

    Oooo yeah, that is a *decent* amount of honey. With you on the orange juice front too. These could even be considered rather good for you, with the wholemeal flour and all. Yes they look deliciously stick and soft, as you say…yum.


  6. Hannah says:

    I've just recently fallen in love with honey via a fancypants jar of Leatherwood from Tasmania, so I'd love to try these with a similar strong-tasting honey! Alas, my mum wouldn't want to help out – she pulls faces even at the smell of honey!


  7. Janae says:

    I'm so going to make these! So simple, yet they sound so good. Very cool you've seen Rent 4 times; I've seen it once and it was kind of a sad production… I think I'll always prefer singing it in the car myself 🙂


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