I grew up surrounded by pine trees – both in our flat in Athens but especially in our little summer home on the island of Skiathos (my dad’s birthplace). My father has planted umbrella pine trees all around the house and we used to collect the pinecones and shake out the seeds, smashing them with stones to get to the sweet treat inside.
My husband and I decided to get married in Skiathos, bringing together friends and family all the way from Canada, the US & UK and mainland Greece. Our reception was outside, under olive trees festooned with fairy lights. Romantic, right? Right. Little did we know, and unthinkable to imagine (rain? In Greece? In August?) that it would start to rain at 3am while the reception was still in full swing… and it would not stop raining for 3 whole days. This was no summer rain – this was a deluge and the island was completely flooded. Pine nuts all over the island swelled and sprouted and literally hundreds of tiny little pine tree seedlings dotted the landscape. We brought back a couple of seedlings and one is now a tree – currently waiting for the garden to be free of builders so it can claim its rightful place in the sun again.
Honey and pine nut cake
Recipe adapted from 500 Cakes
230g | 8oz unsalted butter, cubed
120ml | 4fl oz honey (Attiki honey or wildflower honey preferably)
75ml | 2.5fl oz golden syrup (or replace with honey)
100g | 3.5oz soft light brown sugar
3 large eggs
200g | 7oz self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp fine cornmeal, sifted
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp powdered mastic gum (optional)
zest of 1 orange
100g pine nuts – reserve 2 tbsp for topping
5 tbsp honey to drizzle on finished cake (or more, to taste)
1. Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Grease a 20cm (8in) springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
2. Put the butter, honey, golden syrup and sugar in the saucepan and heat gently, stirring over low heat until the butter melts. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
3. Beat in the eggs using a hand whisk then sift the flour, cornmeal, salt and mastic gum (if using) over the mixture. Stir with the hand whisk to combine.
4. Add the pine nuts (reserving a few to sprinkle over the cake) and orange zest and fold them in. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes (or up to an hour) until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5. Heat 5 tbsp of honey in the microwave for 30-45 seconds until runny then drizzle over the still warm cake while it is still inside the tin. Remove the cake from the tin once completely cool and
serve with some Greek yoghurt, crème fraîche or vanilla yoghurt.
I got a little snap-happy as you can see… using my nearly finished new kitchen as my studio got me so excited… Can’t wait to see it properly, finally, officially finished! I have been cooking in my living room for 6 months and it has worn REALLY really old…
Such a brilliant recipe! This cake is so gorgeous, no need of super colorful frostings nor fancy decorations: the cake looks utterly beautiful au natural!
The lighting in your kitchen is perfect, I envy you! :-p
PS: so cute that story about the greek pine tree! It's like having a piece of memory from your childhood in Greece <3
Kate Glutenfreealchemist says
What a lovely post! I love the memories we hold about childhood, especially the ones that centre around food.
Your wedding sounds wonderful with or without rain. I love that you have a pine tree that has come back with you too…. Do you think you will get edible nits from it in the UK?
The cake is gorgeous as always with your bakes!
Hannah Hossack-lodge says
I have literally just been given a big bag of pine nuts…now I know what to do with them! It looks fantastically moist and delicious, you are such a talent! 🙂 x
Lovely story about your wedding reception and the pine trees. The cake looks gorgeous!
Angela Field says
This looks really good. In it's raw form I'm not a huge fan of honey, but I love cooking and baking with it. I also like the idea of wild flower honey, it sounds like it would have a much more interesting flavour. I've also never used pine nuts in sweet dishes. Another ingredient/idea to add to the 'to try' list.
Margot @ Coffee & Vanilla says
Amazing cake, would love a piece or two with my coffee right now 😉 Thank you for reminding me about existence of pine nuts, haven't been using them for a while…
Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life says
I have to agree with Jennie, your wedding day sounds like magic despite the rain 🙂 I love that the party was still going at 3am! This cake looks like the perfect treat for a sweet craving, and I love simple cakes that are still absolutely special. I can't wait to try it 🙂
Jennie Cranham says
Mmm, this cake looks delicious. I love how wonderfully sticky and syrupy it looks. Your wedding day sounds magical, even with the rain!
Jennie // Scarletscorchdroppers
Lucy Parissi says
I don't think the island had seen rain like this in over 100 years! But yes the day was pretty magical, rain or no!
Lynn | The Road to Honey says
Rain or not, it sounds like you had a magical wedding (btw. . .I think the rain adds an extra sprinkle of magic to that day). And how special to have that little pine tree that you can plant in your garden as a constant reminder of that important day in your life. This cake look delish! I must have some Greek in me somewhere because I love a good sticky, syrupy desert.
Lucy Parissi says
Well the say rain is lucky on your wedding day – and I feel pretty lucky in my marriage : )
belleau kitchen says
this is one of my favourite cakes… my Greek friend Andreas grandma used to make this cake and I loved it… yours looks gorgeous. x
Lucy Parissi says
Thanks Dom – such an easy cake and really quite addictive! It brought back memories of Greece in summertime…