Around the world in 80 dishes No. 49: Elizabeth's honeycake with plum jam

Ingredients to make 3 medium-sized cakes

For the cake

750g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
250g unsalted butter
500g honey
3 tablespoons allspice
120ml full cream milk
3 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
3 eggs, beaten
1 kg plain flour

For the filling and icing

400g Polish plum butter (powidla) or orange marmalade
500g cooking chocolate
50g unsalted butter


My Aunt Elizabeth makes this deliciously dark and chewy chocolate honeycake with layers of tangy plum jam. It takes a long time to make, but lasts for months in the fridge, tasting better the older it gets.

The jam used for the filling is a thick plum powidla or "plum butter" – a very popular concentrated jam. You can buy plum powidla in delis, or you could use another tangy filling such as marmalade.

First make the caramel. Put 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir on a low heat to make a smooth brown caramel. Chop the butter into quarters and stir in. Now add the remaining sugar and honey. Add the allspice and stir until the butter and sugar have blended in fully, then leave to cool in room temperature.

Stir in the milk and the bicarbonate of soda, along with the beaten eggs. Slowly work in the flour, little by little.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Divide the cake mix into 3 rectangular non-stick loaf tins, 21x11x6cm. The mix should be about 3cm deep in each. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 180C/gas mark 4 and cook for another 50 minutes. The cakes will grow to nearly twice their size.

Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool in their tins. Once cool, turn them out, wrap in plastic food wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.

Next day slice each cake horizontally into 4 or 5 slices about 1cm thick. The cake should be quite firm and easy to cut with a long sharp knife. Spread the jam generously on each layer before putting the cake back together. Now spread more jam on the top and sides. Leave to set while you make the icing.

Melt the cooking chocolate in a bain marie or double boiler. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Coat the cake with the icing then return it to the fridge to set. Serve in thin slices with a cup of coffee or tea.

Taken from Rosepetal Jam: Recipes and Stories from a Summer in Poland by Beata Zatorska and Simon Target (Tabula Books, £25).

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