Michelle Darmody: Bee positive — honey is a great all-rounder in recipes

Honey is a useful ingredient in both savoury cooking and baking. Whether it is browning up baked goods or sweetening up a tin of tomatoes. 
Michelle Darmody: Bee positive — honey is a great all-rounder in recipes
Organic homemade granola bars. File pictures.

This is the time of the year when most beekeepers are beginning to harvest honey from the hives that they have tended throughout the year. I had the great pleasure of harvesting honey a few years back. It is a lovely process and my house smelt sweetly of beeswax for days afterward.

To harvest the honey we borrowed a large metal centrifuge from the local beekeepers' association and then the slow process of taking the full frames from the hive began. We capped wax from the frames as delicately as possible, so the seal was broken on each of the hexagonal sections. The frames were then added to the strange-looking machine. Once it was filled and all of the frames were snuggly fitted we spun the machine furiously so that the golden liquid dripped out and into our waiting jars.

Michelle Darmody. Picture by Fergal Phillips.
Michelle Darmody. Picture by Fergal Phillips.

We had a generous year’s supply and some extra jars to give as gifts. If you are interested in learning more about beekeeping the Federation Irish Beekeepers' Associations has a wealth of knowledge and can guide you along the way.

Honey will make your baked goods brown more easily than granulated sugars but it adds a more subtle sweetness. I use honey in a large portion of my savoury cooking as well as baking — it perks up a dull tin of tomatoes or makes a crisp golden skin on a roast chicken.

Here in Ireland, honey is most often sold as a liquid but it can crystalise if it is left in a cupboard. If you sit the jar in some warm water it should soften up again. I always look for Irish honey that is produced by local beekeepers.

Honey and raspberry slices

Ingredients:

85g soft butter

80g golden caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

200g ground almonds

25g of wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder, sieved

150g raspberries

50g slivered almonds

3 tbs honey

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line an 9-inch square tin with parchment

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream them until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then fold in the ground almonds. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold these in.

Scoop the mixture into your prepared tin then scatter the raspberries on top, pushing them down very gently. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top and push these down lightly as well. Bake for 45 minutes until baked through.

Remove from the oven and, while it is still hot, drizzle with honey. Allow to cool in the tin and then slice into squares. Serve warm or cold.

 Raspberry almond slices.
Raspberry almond slices.

Stewed harvest fruits with honey cream

Ingredients:
For the fruit

2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1/2 tbs honey

2 tbs very strong jasmine green tea

150g blackberries

150g raspberries

For the cream

300mls cream, whipped

100g runny honey

Method:

Add the apple slices, honey, and jasmine tea into a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat. Allow to simmer for five minutes and add the berries. Continue to simmer for another five minutes and take off the heat to cool.

Fold the honey through the stiffly-whipped cream.

Serve the stewed fruit with a scoop of the honey cream.

Honey and seed flapjacks

Ingredients:
140g butter

2 tbs honey

80g soft brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

175g porridge oats

150g mixed seeds

60g chopped nuts

Method:

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees and line an 8 x 8-inch square tin with parchment.

Gently melt the butter, honey, and sugar together. Stir in the vanilla. Add in the oats, seeds, and nuts until combined.

Scoop the mixture into your tin and flatten it down. Bake for about 35 minutes until it is turning golden. Allow to cool in the tin and then slice into whatever size bars you would like.

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