*EOWTTA= Eating our way through the alphabet
This sticky, runny, beautiful, golden food needs little introduction. Commonly used as a spread, honey has so many interesting properties it has been dubbed a “superfood” by those who care about these things.
Honey is supposed to “sweeten” the voice and we were told to have honey tea in preparation for concerts (I was a choir chick in my younger days ☺). Who knows if it actually works but at least it tasted good.
We also make honey and lemon tea at home whenever anyone has the sniffles or is feeling under the weather. I think it’s a wonderful way to keep the fluid levels up and it feels so comforting to wrap your hands around a warm mug. Plus it’s safe enough to give to the mini-critics.
There have been many anecdotes about the healing properties of honey when used on a wound,andstudies have shown that certain honeys contain anti-bacterial properties. Honey is also believed to help reduce scarring and speed up the healing process.
Manuka honey from neighbouring New Zealand, is one honey that contains these bug fighting properties. Manuka honey is a monofloral honey harvested from bees that feed on blooms of the Manuka bush (Tea tree bush).
Monofloral honey comes predominantly from the nectar of one plant species. Common Australian monofloral honeys are Eucalyptus based and include Yellow Box, Blue Gum, Ironbark and Tasmanian Leatherwood.
Apart from health benefits, honey has been used in home beauty treatments since time immemorial. Cleopatra is alleged to have kept herself beautiful by bathing in milk and honey. And speaking of milk and honey (man I’m good at segues), honey makes an appearance in countless religious texts.
While honey does sound like the bee all and end all (sorry couldn’t resist), care must be taken when giving honey to babies because of naturally occurring botulinum endospores (the nasty thingies that can cause botulism). It is recommended not to give honey to children under the age of one. Older kids and adults can usually safely digest and destroy the spores.
And by the way, did you know that honey is formed by a process of regurgitation? Hope that didn’t put you off your honey.
I don’t usually bake with honey, preferring to savour it au naturale. But if you do decide to bake with it - reduce any liquid called for by 1⁄4 cup for each cup of honey. This and other baking tips can be found here.
My favourite way of enjoying honey is to drizzle it over some Greek yoghurt and top with toasted almonds. Occasionally we indulge in this Cranachan. I did toy with the idea of replacing the cream with yoghurt but this is the sort of dessert that really works better with cream, so calories be damned. And I’m not sure how a good Scottish màthair would make it but here’s my version. (And I did do something very un-Scottish, I ommitted the whisky).
A sort-of Cranachan
Based on a recipe found here
4 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp butter
(Lightly toast the above ingredients together in a dry, non-stick frying pan until the sugar caramelises and coats the oats. Stir often to prevent burning. The oats should be crunchy and golden brown)
About 2 tbsp slivered almonds – toasted (optional)
About ½ cup of more thickened cream (depends on how much cream per serve is needed. Whip until soft peaks form. Substitute with double cream if desired).
Honey according to taste
A handful of raspberries (frozen works fine - other people have vodka stashed in their freezers at all times, I have raspberries)
Place a dollop of cream in the bottom of a serving glass. Scatter a few raspberries over that, then a drizzle of honey. Repeat this layering process a couple more times. The final layer should be cream. Top with the toasted (cooled) oats and almonds (if using). Drizzle with more honey and decorate with a few raspberries.
Serve immediately. If made a little bit ahead (an hour or so), leave the topping until the last minute. The layers will merge into each other though and water out the cream a little bit. It still tastes good.