My grandma loved to bake during the holidays, which makes this one of my favorite times of year. After we moved to Arizona, we didn't get to spend as many holidays with my grandma, but that didn't stop her from baking. Every year, she'd send a huge, heavy box filled with tins of cookies and cakes. One bite and I was instantly with her again.
She passed away 9 years ago but I can still feel the comfort and warmth of her presence every time I make one of her recipes. Her honey cakes still make me swoon. As a holiday treat, I thought I'd share the recipe with you.
These succulent, moist cakes are a marvelous blend of sweetness and spice, and they keep (preferably in an ancient family tin) forever. My grandma's handwriting was remarkably cryptic, so allow me to translate...
Grandma's Honey Cakes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and butter a shallow jelly roll pan (no dimensions given, but it's one of those standard rectangular pans usually reserved for birthday cakes and brownies).
Cream together 1/2 cup shortening (I use butter) and 1 cup brown sugar until light.
Add 1 well-beaten egg and 1/2 cup honey.
Sift together 2 1/2-cups flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. allspice.
Add dry ingredients to shortening/sugar/egg/honey mix alternatively with 1/2 cup sour milk.
Fold in 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, and 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts are marvelous).
Spread batter 1/2 inch thick in greased pan. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry. You don't want the edges to get too brown.
Immediately spread a frosting of: 1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and enough lemon juice to make a nice fluid paste out of the mix (usually the juice of 1 lemon is fine - you can also substitute water if you don't have a lemon handy).
Once the cake has cooled, slice it into small rectangular bars. I can normally get 48 bars from one pan.