Put your honey to use with this honey polenta cake. On a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, we visited local produce and farm stands along the many winding mountain roads we traveled. We loaded our baskets with fresh South Carolina peaches, local vegetables, blackberries, chunky fruit jams and jars of amber colored honey. Each farm stand had their own unique varieties of honey and I decided to taste test them all. I hit the jackpot when I discovered a seasonal honey from the sourwood tree, sourwood honey, that was available when we were there in mid August.
The sourwood tree (oxydendrum arboreum), which grows primarily in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, flowers in late June with blooms only lasting for three weeks. It is an abundant nectar producer. The sourwood produces a uniquely aromatic, floral honey. Its very light, amber color has a soft anise and spice flavor that makes it supposedly “one of the most distinctive honey’s in the world,” that is highly coveted by food connoisseurs throughout the world.
Little did I know that we had landed in the best place to taste and buy this amazing and rare honey. Black Mountain, North Carolina actually hosts an annual Sourwood Festival each August. The distinctive honey flavor of sourwood is perfect for Southern cooking and foods. Some of the recommended uses for sourwood honey are for BBQ sauce, chicken and waffles (or pancakes), cornbread, muffins, and of course, my honey polenta cake. I mostly like to add the honey to my morning herbal ginger or Earl Gray tea or drizzle it over my breakfast fruit, yogurt and granola bowl.
The recipe for this cake was adapted from the Eat Drink, Garden website and the Beekeeper’s Bible. I used almond meal rather than almond flour. Almond meal is not as fine as the almond flour. My cake was grainy with a coarser texture. I thought that it was divine. However, using almond flour with the polenta will produce a cake with a bit of a smoother and finer texture.
Choose your favorite local honey to add buttery and caramel nuances, and gentle sweet and subtle flavors and I guarantee you will be satisfied with the results.