Unrefined honey and Honey Snaps
At the university where I work every Thursday is market day. On a nice sunny day it's a pleasant way to spend some time after you go out to buy your morning caffe latte. To be honest, there's not a lot there that really grabs me; there's a reason it's known to many as the 'Hippie Market'. There's lots of beads, tie-dyed scarves and used saucepans sold from the back of Kombis by people in crochet hats, but there are some great second-hand book stalls (I bought a hardcover of the epic A Suitable Boy for $14!)
The most exciting thing for me last week was that the Honey Man was there. I first saw him the day I came for my job interview, and made a note that if I got the job, I'd keep an eye out for him. Each week I looked, but he didn't come back until last week.
The honey man sells raw, unfiltered, organic honey from the Yellow Mallee Gum - a Eucalypt from North-Western Victoria. I don't know if he keeps the bees himself, but after tasting his honey I want to find out more about him. His honey is 'strained at beehive temperature' and 'retains all the natural goodness of pollen, propolis and enzymes' and it tastes amazing. It's dark and cloudy with a grainy texture full of little 'bits' - bits of beeswax? pollen? It's almost crunchy! I don't know, but it made me realise how much honey with texture tastes so much better than the clarified stuff. And the flavour - wow! I stuck my finger in for a taste when I got back to my desk, and for hours afterwards whenever I moved my hand I could smell the honey. I'm sure my workmates were sneaking worried looks at the weird girl who kept sniffing her fingers. It reminds me of the of the pieces of honey in the comb my grandmother used to to buy when I was a child.
And what makes it even more of a winner? Half a kilo of his honey will cost you only $4.95!! Amazing. .
Tasting honey like this reaffirms how much I don't like the Capilano honey they sell in supermarkets. That stuff is overly sweet and refined, whereas this natural stuff has an aftertaste of trees and beeswax and nature in general. I only wish Mr Honey Man also sold the Mole Creek Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, which is my favourite. If you haven't tasted it, imagine the strongest, woodiest honey you can imagine. Fabulous. But it's expensive.
So, while sitting at my desk that afternoon I felt inspired to bake something with my new honey as soon as I got home. The best place I thought of for honey recipes was the roundup on Baking Sheet from the recent Sugar High Friday she hosted. And it was there that I found just what I was looking for, from a fellow Australian blogger - Grab Your Fork. Her recipe for Honey Snaps looked really simple and had so few ingredients that the flavour of the honey would really show through.
I seem to have hit a winner with really easy recipes recently, as these were just made in a saucepan and dolloped onto a cookie tray. Even with the most unsteady dolloping hand, the biscuits spread into perfect circles during cooking. I put a blanched almond on each biscuit and, taking them to work the next morning, everybody was impressed by how professional they looked. This is a perfect case of elegant simplicity! These are thin and fairly delicate with a really crispy texture and would be perfect for those oocasions which require fine bone china teacups and saucers. They taste a little bit like a ginger snap, due to the ground ginger - which I actually doubled. And as Augustus Gloop commented, they are incredibly addictive. I found it hard to stop at 2....or.....erm....5. It's the perfect thing if you want to show off your good honey.
Read on for the recipe:
With thanks to Augustus Gloop
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-Melt butter, sugar and honey together in a saucepan.Remove from heat.
-Add flour, baking powder, ginger and stir until mixture is smooth.
-Drop teaspoon lots onto a cold oven tray, leaving enough room for the mixture to spread to double its size.
-Bake at 180C for ten minutes or until golden.
-Leave on tray for a few minutes to cool before removing to a wire rack.
August Gloop notes: Make only enough batter that you can bake at a time, as the mixture can dry out and reheating just cooks the dough. However, the recipe is so easy to make up that doing repeat batchs of dough is no trouble.