It's a common practice, when one is feeling under the weather, to partake in retail therapy. Buying expensive shoes or a new shirt, in those moody moments, makes the weight of the world seem a little lighter. It's hard to say exactly why spending loose change can turn a mood from blue to bright. For some reason, it's easier to face the world with a cheery face when you're working a new pair of blue jeans. Whenever my mood is headed toward melancholy, I like to go food prop shopping.
I doubt you will find anyone get more excited about dirty, thrift store silverware than me.
Thrift stores and yard sales are the holy grail of food prop shopping. Not only is everything exceptionally inexpensive (as a young woman, extra cash is something I do not have), but the kitchen tools and dinnerware are each a unique find. Certainly this type of shopping can be the definition of hit-or-miss, but when you stumble across something you didn't know you'd been searching for, the union feels fated.
I've recently been caught up in old bakeware. Scratched and blackened, only years of dedicated cookie making could have turned these baking sheets into the perfect state of used. Old jam jars become glasses for milk and vases for stray wildflowers. Glass candle holders become cups for serving puddings or containers for jam.
Though I have an entire closet filled with baking gear and food props, I find myself using the same things over and over again. The old cotton sugar sack in the photos above is used so often, you could easily spot it in every other post (go play a game of I Spy—I wish I was joking). The white rimmed plate holding the honey cake is another find that frequents the pages of this blog whenever a slice of cake or a stack of cookies need to be held. Lately I've been wondering why all my photographs seem to look the same. I think I have my answer.
Last weekend I found myself on a food prop shopping spree. I came home with so many bags of old dishware, I began to wonder if I'd need another closet to hold it all. Plates so old they have the appearance of broken egg shells and colorful silverware now fill the shelves of my closet. Now to wait for inspiration to strike...
This Honey Wheat Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Icing is a real treat. The cake is a simple one, made with part whole wheat flour, buttermilk, and honey. The honey, however, turns this cake into magic when it hits the oven, caramelizing on the bottom and sides of the pan. Topped with a honey sweetened cream cheese icing, I found myself eating this cake for breakfast and lunch. I used a dark honey for this cake and I suggest you do the same to get a deep caramelized flavor. However, if dark honey isn't available, regular honey will work just fine.
One Year Ago: Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Honey Wheat Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook
Yields 9x5-inch pound cake
Honey Wheat Pound Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees F). Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the buttermilk and continue mixing until the batter is smooth.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Icing
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Chill in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to thicken before spreading onto the cooled cake.
Store cake in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for 3-4 days (and taste more delicious each day that passes).