Following yesterday’s announcement that Don Grusin’s Octave release, Out of Thin Air, had received HiFi News Disc of the Month, the disc’s reviewer (and long-time friend) Ken Kessler and I caught up with each other via email.
Ken and I go back longer than either of us probably wants to remember. I first met him at Infinity founder Arnie Nudell’s house back in the early 1980s. Ken, funny and witty as anyone I have ever met, was always ready with a great story or juicy bits of industry insider information—enough to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire evening. I wish I had taken notes.
As we reminisced, Ken kindly shared with me one of his family’s recipes that I pass on to you here.
“Here is a family recipe which I really should guard with my life, and which my father would never give out to strangers, but think of it as a memorial to the old man:
Solomon Kessler’s Peerless World-Class Honey Cake, Which Even Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Nigella Nor Prue Can’t Match In Their Wildest Dreams
(All measurements in US form)
1 heaping cup of sugar
1/3 cup of shortening, e.g. Stork for cakes, Crisco if you live in the USA, maybe margarine but probably not butter
1 tsp baking soda in 1 cup runny honey – yes, an entire cup. Mix with 1 cup hot black coffee – yes, black coffee, the secret ingredient
this to the creamed sugar/shortening mix
Then add to the mix:
3 cups plain flour, sifted – NOT self-raising – a bit at a time, but you knew that
1/2 tsp (powdered, not fresh) ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
Add these together into the mixture:
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts, e.g. walnuts or perhaps pecans, even more if you’re nuts about nuts
in a greased and floured 10in tube (‘ring’ or ‘bund’) pan for 1hr at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To save you Googling, that’s 175/180 degrees C, or 160C in a fan-assisted oven.
Solomon would put walnut haves on the top as decoration, but I don’t know how he kept them from sinking into the cake itself.
This will stay for a week in an airtight container. But it will not last that long because it is irresistible if you love honey, ginger and or nuts.
Just an idea: If you halve everything, it might work in a loaf tin, just as you would make banana bread or date-nut loaf, but I have never tried it so don’t blame me if it doesn’t work.
You can thank me later for this.
Thanks, Ken! Enjoy.