Shannon M. Smurthwaite
No matter how you slice, serve or top it, Sweet Honey Cake is a rustic treat created with farm fresh ingredients.

There is no denying honey is one of nature's best gifts. Used for its versatility in our food preparation, honey has also been known for centuries as a super food with medicinal powers. Maybe it's not well-known, but honey was used as a natural preservative before chemicals became prominent in processing.

The sweet, sticky stuff is an excellent substitute or replacement for all or part of sugar in most recipes. Honey is my go-to for pizza dough, muffins, cakes and several favorite cookies.

For rustic charm use farm-fresh ingredients taking notice of a few extra, but simple, steps. Don't overlook whisking the eggs and sugar together for 3-4 minutes. Your cake will be light, spongy and moist. You may notice the texture is different from other cakes. Warming the milk, and buttering your baking dish(es) will enrich the finished product.

Use your creativity. You can substitute almond milk for whole milk. If you like cinnamon, add a dash or two. The recipe calls for using two glass pie dishes, but a 9-by-13-inch pan also works.

I'd side-step anything chocolate (and that's rare for me) when topping Sweet Honey Cake. Cream cheese or vanilla frosting, a dusting of powdered sugar, coconut, nuts and just about any fresh fruit, can creatively crown this confection. You design it. Or you can enjoy it simply as hot cake from the oven without garnishing. Let's face it, few improvements are required when you've got Mother Nature infusing her magic.

SWEET HONEY CAKE

3 large or 4 medium eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup honey

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup milk, warmed slightly before adding

6 tablespoons butter (not margarine), softened, not clarified

1 teaspoon good vanilla

Optional: Cinnamon to taste. Add to the dry ingredients

In large bowl, measure and combine with fork the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar for 3 or 4 minutes. The mixture will be thick and a little frothy. Slowly incorporate the honey, whisking as you combine it into the egg and sugar combination.

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Pour the egg, sugar and honey into the large mixing bowl of dry ingredients. With heavy spatula, stir slowly. After you are certain everything is well blended, fold in warm milk, softened butter and vanilla. Stir well.

Pour the cake batter into 2 round glass baking dishes, well buttered. Each dish should be filled no more than a little over the half way mark to avoid spillage in the oven. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes. Ovens and altitude can alter your results. Test at 28 minutes for doneness. The tops should be nicely textured and golden brown. Let cool (about 90 minutes) before topping and serving.