I came across this recipe, scribbled in my grandma’s handwriting, while I was digging through my mom’s recipe cupboard on my last visit to my parents’ place. I was looking for some of my childhood favourites – my mom’s lemon mousse and my grandma’s sponge cake, to be more specific – and I ended up uncovering a treasure trove of old recipes. Some were written by hand, like the Honey Nut Loaf I’m sharing today, while others were clipped from magazines or torn from the newspaper, now yellowing with age.
I don’t actually have any recollection of my grandma making this for me growing up, but the combination of flavours sounded so wonderful that I wanted to give it a try anyway. She baked nearly every day because my grandpa had a serious sweet tooth, and loved having something freshly baked to go with his afternoon tea. Although I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, I must have inherited the sweet tooth because I do love having a little something sweet with my coffee.
The original recipe was called Honey Nut Pound Cake, but I changed the title because the end result is more like a quick bread than a pound cake, and I didn’t want to confuse or disappoint anyone that tried it out. To me, pound cake is dense with a delicate crumb, and this is more fluffy and cake-like on the inside. Still wonderful, just not pound cake.
The cake itself isn’t overly sweet, but it gets a boost of sweetness from a generous drizzle of honey that helps the pecans stick to the top of the baked cake. You could toast the nuts before scattering them on top, but the recipe didn’t call for it and I think it’s still delicious as-is. The only thing I might try next time is placing half of the nuts on top of the cake before it bakes, because some of them tended to tumble off the top when I cut it.
My husband is a genius, and discovered that a piece of this loaf is absolutely delicious with a piece of pineapple on top. Seriously. I knew I married him for a reason. It reminded me of a dessert we had in Maui once when we went on a zip lining excursion: they gave us a piece of some dense, sweet, cake-like loaf and a slice of pineapple and had us eat it like an open-faced sandwich. This combination tasted just like that. So good.
I hope to share more of my grandma’s recipes here. Some of them may be difficult to recreate because often when writing down a recipe she merely scrawled the ingredients and the name of the dish, because (I’m guessing) back then it was assumed that any housewife worth her salt would know how to make muffins or scones or cake, and would only need to know the ingredients and the bake time. I’m sure a little but of trial and error (and lots of taste testing) will yield some wonderful results.
On a side note, it’s Canada Day on Tuesday and I’m taking Monday off, so I’ll have a nice long weekend to muddle around in the kitchen and concoct some delicious dishes to share with you all. My vegetable garden is finally starting to yield some results, so hopefully you will soon see some garden-fresh recipes here. I think my CSA starts again any day now as well, and I can’t wait to consume all the local products I possibly can during our short growing season here in Calgary.
Have a fabulous weekend!
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, divided
- 2-3 tablespoons honey (as needed for drizzling on top)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
- Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, cream brown sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add flour, milk, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and eggs and mix on low speed until combined. Fold in 1 cup of the pecans.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown on top and a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack.
- Drizzle cooled cake with 1 tablespoon of honey. Scatter the remaining 1 cup of pecans evenly on top, and drizzle with another 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Slice and serve.
- Cake will keep covered at room temperature for 1-2 days.