Home RecipesCakes Cooking by the Book: Beorn’s Honey Cake

Cooking by the Book: Beorn’s Honey Cake

18 comments

I fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth when I read The Fellowship of the Ring. Admittedly, I was only introduced to Tolkien when the movie came out (cringe, cringe). My childhood didn’t offer much opportunity to explore literature as much as I wanted and I had to scrape together my meager allowance to buy used books. Forget about libraries; the only ones that I had access to were school libraries and I made sure to spend most of my free time there. But enough of the sob story. Today’s all about Beorn’s Honey Cake.

Beorn's Honey Cake

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that this is the fourth challenge in the Cooking by the Book series.  I haven’t had the time to write about the others (madeleines, pumpkin pasties, and treacle tarts) but I’ll hopefully get to them soon.

For those who aren’t familiar with The Lord of the Rings, Beorn was a skinchanger who helped Thorin and the dwarves in The Hobbit. He takes on the form of a huge bear, and true to stereotypical bear behavior, he was fond of honey. In fact, honey was added to most of the food he made.

Honey cakes, though, were the Beornings’ specialty. They were renowned for being one of the best bakers around and Gimli probably loved their honey cakes.

“Indeed it is,” said Gimli. “Why it is better than the honey-cakes of the Beorning, and that is great praise, for the Beornings are the best bakers that I know of;”

Beorn's Honey Cake

In the book, the honey cakes were twice baked to keep them fresh for a long time, making them perfect for traveling around the Middle Earth for weeks. In the real world (aka our world), these cakes taste much better fresh out of the oven but can be kept for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

This is a very simple recipe but I upped the appeal factor by using this specialty pan from Nordic Ware. I’ve had my eye on this for a few months, but they were too expensive to buy from the shop. Luckily I found a seller on Carousell (it’s like Ebay) who was selling it at a cheaper price.

Honeycomb pan + honey cakes? Sold. Oh did I mention that it makes an adorable pull-apart cake? The pan has these cute bee designs with ridges that make it easy to separate each section.

Beorn's Honey Cake

If you don’t have this honeycomb pan, don’t fret. You can use a 9-inch cake pan as well.

Beorn's Honey Cake

For my version of Beorn’s Honey Cake, I used a combination of cornmeal and flour. The cornmeal, not to be confused with corn starch or corn flour, added an interesting texture to the cake. The cake came out tender but with a hint of grittiness on the tongue. It’s not rough or coarse per se, but the cornmeal lent a je ne se quois (oh, snooty) to the cake.

Beorn's Honey Cake

If cornmeal isn’t available, you can use all purpose flour instead. While I haven’t tried baking this cake using all flour, I think it will turn out just as good too. It will probably taste like honey sponge cakes. Drool.

I also tried infusing the milk with cardamom and cinnamon. Following a quick simmer to melt the butter, I let the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick steep for 30 minutes in the warm milk and butter mixture. I love how the milk smelled like cardamom. It’s seriously my new favorite spice. Haha.

Serve it warm for tea and top it with butter and honey. Delicious!

Beorn's Honey Cake

Ready to try this Middle Earth treat for yourself?

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Beorn’s Honey Cake


  • Author: Paula (Gobble The Cook)
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 9-inch 1x

Description

Honey cakes were the Beorning’s specialty in the Lord of the Rings. This tender and sweet cake is easy enough to replicate and perfect to top with butter and honey!


Scale

Ingredients

138 grams (1 cup) cornmeal

120 grams (1 cup) all purpose flour

110 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

240 ml (1 cup) milk

60 ml (1/4 cup) honey

4 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

57 grams (1/4 cup) butter


Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, milk, honey, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure that butter is melted. Remove from heat and let the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick steep for 10 minutes or more.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  3. Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick from the milk mixture. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter onto the prepared 9-inch cake pan.
  5. Bake at a preheated 350F/180C oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the toothpick comes up clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting on to a serving plate.

Notes

  • You can use a non-stick spray or melted butter to prep the pan before putting in the batter.
  • If you don’t have cardamom pods, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom. However, add it in with the dry ingredients rather than steeping it in the milk.
  • I love cardamom but if you haven’t tried or don’t like it, you can try to lessen the amount used. Or you can more for a stronger taste!
  • If cornmeal is unavailable, use all purpose flour instead.
  • Category: Cake, Challenge
  • Method: Baking
 

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18 comments

Holly Oct 31, 2019 - 4:17 AM

The recipe never mentions HOW to prepare the baking pan.

 
Reply
Paula Nov 2, 2019 - 5:44 PM

Hi Holly, thanks for pointing it out. I’ll update the notes with this. For this specific mold that I used, I just used a non-stick spray like Pam. You can also brush it with butter.

 
Reply
LBG Oct 2, 2019 - 4:07 AM

This was not very good at all, sorry. I wouldn’t label it “tender” or “sweet.” Even trying to call it a cornbread was a stretch. It was dry and had almost no honey taste at all, despite adding more honey that called for. By all who know, me, I’m a pretty good baker and I don’t think I’ve ever thrown away a homemade dessert from my kitchen. This went in the trash. Even as a cornbread it wasn’t very good. To each his own. i loved the silicone pan I bought and will search for another recipe or use it for candy.

 
Reply
Paula Oct 5, 2019 - 7:08 PM

Oh, dear. I’m so sorry to hear that. Thanks for trying it out though, hope you find the recipe for you 🙂

 
Reply
Benny Sep 28, 2019 - 7:19 AM

I tried this but accidentally forgot sugar (it’s been a weird day). Luckily, it turned out fine- just more like a cornbread than a cake. With butter and honey it was great!

 
Reply
Paula Sep 28, 2019 - 7:31 PM

Oh, I’m glad it turned out ok Benny! I’ve never tried it without sugar (intentionally or otherwise), but it’s good to know that it’d taste like cornbread without it. 😄

 
Reply
Kimberly Sep 3, 2019 - 11:47 PM

Hello. I was wondering if you thought it would be possible to reduce the sugar in this recipe? My dad is diabetic but he loves honey in recipes. Honey is already sweet, how far would you recommend reducing the sugar? Thanks.

 
Reply
Paula Sep 6, 2019 - 7:11 PM

Hi Kimberly! Hmm…I haven’t tried it myself, but perhaps you can start with half of the sugar? I didn’t personally find it too sweet, but then again I have a sweet tooth. Or maybe you can try other sugar alternatives like stevia? Good luck and please let me know how it goes!

 
Reply
melissa Aug 3, 2019 - 11:41 AM

Does the temperature or time differ when using the honeycomb pan rather than the 9 inch? Thanks!!

 
Reply
Paula Aug 4, 2019 - 10:12 AM

Hi Melissa, no difference in the temperature, but I found that it took me longer – nearer the 40 minute mark when using this pan. However, it’s probably better to poke one of the “cells” near the center to check for doneness. Hope this helps! 🙂

 
Reply
Lara Jul 29, 2019 - 9:58 PM

I made this over the weekend and it was lovely! It’s closer to what my family considers corn bread than cake, but we thought it was delicious and the kids loved the honeycomb shape with the bees on top. We devoured it too quickly for me to get a picture!

 
Reply
Paula Jul 30, 2019 - 2:25 PM

Thanks Lara! I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed it! 🙂

 
Reply
Meghan Morris Sep 10, 2018 - 10:18 AM

I tried these with a silicon version of the cake pan you have and it worked great! I’m sad that I didn’t read your post above the recipe more closely though, I’m sure it would have been even more amazing had I let the spices steep for half an hour rather than just 10 minutes. Have you tried twice baking these yet? I’m going to a medieval camping event next month that will last several days with no real refrigeration, so I figure that it might be nice to have slightly drier cakes (although I figure they’re going to disappear off the plate as soon as I get there). I just don’t have the funds to really experiment with it, so I’d love to know your results if you’ve tried it.

 
Reply
Paula (Gobble The Cook) Sep 10, 2018 - 10:43 AM

Hi Meghan, glad to hear that it turned out great for you! Unfortunately, I haven’t tried twice baking them yet 🙁 but I guess it won’t go stale so fast. If I remember correctly, I didn’t refrigerate these after baking and they were ok for 2 days, I think. But it all depends on what the weather is at the camp that you’re going to. Don’t leave anything to chance though, better be safe than sorry. If you get to try baking these twice, would you let me know how it turns out? And enjoy your camp, it sounds really interesting!

 
Reply
Loren Jul 28, 2018 - 6:56 PM

Where did you get the pan to make the cute honey comb shape?

 
Reply
Paula (Gobble The Cook) Jul 28, 2018 - 10:36 PM

Hi! I bought mine from a local reseller here in Singapore (Carousell). It was a lucky find but I’m not sure where she originally got it from. The local big department stores like Tangs or ToTT Store do carry Nordic Ware stuff, but the last I checked, I didn’t see this exact pan being sold. The best bet would be buying online from Amazon (search for Nordic Ware honeycomb pan). Hope this helps!

 
Reply
Martha Swicegood Nov 9, 2017 - 12:28 AM

No egg in this recipe?

 
Reply
Paula (Gobble The Cook) Nov 9, 2017 - 4:36 PM

Hi! Nope, I didn’t use any eggs in this recipe 🙂

 
Reply

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