Authentic Greek honey is widely recognised as being a natural product of world-class quality; this is because it’s made by bees that feed upon the abundant, rich and aromatic Greek flora which includes over 850 species found nowhere else in the world. In actual fact, Greece is a country with the richest flora in the Mediterranean basin with more than 7,500 different species of herbs, plants, wild flowers and trees. That knowledge blows my mind and I hope that everybody that can is doing their utmost to respect and protect that precious gift. This recipe is inspired by a slice of cake I was given a very long time ago on the remote and beautiful island of Symi in Greece. It was served up for breakfast alongside a tiny cup of strong Greek coffee, some warm grilled peaches and a huge dollop of Greek yoghurt, its sharpness softened by a drizzle of local honey. When I’m trying to recreate a treasured memory, I want it to be as authentic as possible so I used Odysea’s wild thyme & fragrant herb honey which is produced by Alexandros Gousiaris, an artisan beekeeper in the small village of Ilias in central Greece. This recipe pays homage to all the dedicated Greek artisans and passionate entrepreneurs who work hard to protect and promote Greece’s culinary heritage; including the highly respected chef and restaurateur, Theodore Kyriakou who, alongside Odysea’s Panos Manuelides, has co-created The Greek Larder, a deli, restaurant and bar concept in London where you can sample it all. The mere aroma of this cake baking is all it takes to place me back at that harbourside table in Symi town and the sounds of the little fishing boat engines as they pull out, the children laughing as they wrecklessly jump in and out of the sea and the constant chattering that orchestrates the secret lives lived behind the shutters and doors already closed to the sun.
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g Odysea wild thyme & fragrant herb honey
3 eggs, separated
Zest of one lemon
200g ground almonds
1.5 tsp baking powder
Half a tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon thyme leaves, stripped from the stalk
For the glaze
75g Odysea wild thyme & fragrant herb honey
Juice of half a lemon
How I make it
Heat an oven to 170C. Lightly grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and honey together until light and fluffy. Stir in the egg yolks and lemon zest and then add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, salt and lemon thyme leaves.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold into the cake mixture.
Tip into the lined cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Heat the glaze ingredients together until they are gently bubbling. Pour over the cake and leave to cool before serving. Once glazed, the cake becomes very soft so handle with care. As you can see, mine broke in half when I took it out the tin hence the herby decoration. Perfection; it’s so overrated, don’t you think?
This is absolutely gorgeous served with my Jaffa orange blossom infused labneh.