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History Cookbook: Honey Cake

This recipe is in categories Romano-British, Baking, Healthy eating, Picnic
About this recipe
Healthiness : (210 votes)
Difficulty:  1 out of 5 difficulty
Comments: The honey cake needs cooking, so help may be needed with the oven. Take great care and use oven gloves. If you do get burnt, hold the burn under running cold water for at least 3 minutes.
Preparation Time: 10 - 20 minutes (depending on how you beat the eggs)
Cooking Time: 40 - 50 minutes
Number of servings: 12-14
Serving suggestions: Can be eaten on its own - it keeps well - good with fruit and cream!
This is a vegetarian recipe


Honey was the main sweetener used from pre-history up to and including the Middle Ages. It is an extremely healthy food and a good source of energy.

The Romans were very fond of honey and used it widely, not only in their food, but also for healing and in cosmetics. Like other cultures, they also used it to make alcoholic drinks.

Spelt flour is made from a very old strain of wheat which was introduced to Britain by the Romans. You can use ordinary plain flour if you wish.
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g clear, runny honey (a strong flavoured one is best)
  • 50g spelt flour, sifted
(To measure the honey, wait until you are ready to use it and then put it on the scales in the pot, find out how much it weighs and then spoon out what you need until it weighs 200g less. If using balance scales, just take 200g off the weights and spoon out the honey until it balances again)

When breaking eggs, do them one at a time into a small bowl or cup before putting each into the larger bowl - this way you can easily take out any bits of eggshell that may fall in. In the old days, you were quite likely to get an 'addled' (bad) egg, so this could be discarded without spoiling the others.
Equipment
  • Weighing scales
  • Sieve
  • Spoon
  • Small bowl
  • One or two baking tins
  • Whisk or fork for beating
  • Wire tray
  • Weighing scales
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Preheat oven to 170C, 330F or gas 3. If you have a fan oven, turn off the fan if possible or put the heat down to 160C
  2. Grease well one or two baking tins, according to size - about 2 x 17cm circular tins or 1 rectangular approx 20x22cm
  3. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them hard and well until getting stiff, creating lots of air bubbles (Nowadays we can use a whisk to do this)
  4. Gradually beat in the honey
  5. Gently fold in the sifted flour
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin(s)
  7. Cook in oven for approx 40 to 50 mins depending on type of oven and how deep the mixture is in the tins
  8. Take out and turn onto a wire tray to cool
Honey Cake - print view  Honey Cake - print view

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Comments
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Name: Penny Johnson 31st October 2017
This is an ancient Roman recipe for honey cake, researched by an expert on ancient Roman cookery, for the History Cookbook. The Romans did like very sweet things! Today we would certainly normally add more flour, etc Mrs. Dale as you said, but this is how they made it 2000 years ago.
Name: Mrs Linda Dale 1st October 2017
Not like any honey cake I have ever seen. The ratio of flour 50g to the eggs and honey to my mind is not enough. Was this a misprint? No raising agent so came out more like a brownie have wasted almost a whole jar of honey will not be using this recipe again 😭
Name: Avery Koelling 1st May 2017
I had to make this for a school project and it was very good and sweet.
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