The year's last, loveliest smile

"Autumn – the year’s last, loveliest smile"
William Cullen Bryant
 

My favourite season is here!

Time to tidy the wardrobe and pull all the cosy sweaters out from their hiding places, to kick leaves in the park and to sample the best vegetables nature has to offer.
At the farmer’s market the stalls are creaking under the weight of the loveliest things around: lingering summer flavours such as strawberries, courgette flowers, lettuce, curly leaf kale and cucumbers are mixing with pumpkins, apples, beets and carrots, the first winter vegetables of the season.
It is such a joy to follow nature as she dances on through the seasons.

In my last post I discussed the health benefits of raw honey and promised to share some autumnal treats with you after experimenting a little. Now is the time!

Using raw honey from The Local Honey Man I have made two autumn treats, although both are so healthy you could even have them for breakfast if you so wish. In fact, the tahini date balls are ideal before a workout!
So without much further ado, here are two recipes to take with you into the new season.


AUTUMN HONEY CAKE


As the initial excitement over the arrival of the winter squashes slowly fades into frustration over the course of the cold season (my man calls this state of mind “squashed out”), it is nice to have some recipes to hand that offer an alternative take on these colourful bubbleheads.

For this recipe I have used butternut squash, but it is perfectly okay to use pumpkins, hokkaido squash, or a mix of orange and green squashes – whatever you have on hand.
Butternut squash is one of the most powerful sources of the antioxidant betacarotene in the plant kingdom, which out bodies convert to vitamin A.
As betacarotene is fat soluble, a good source of healthy fat (coconut oil in this case) alongside any orange vegetable aids the body in the uptake of nutrients.

I used borage honey from the Local Honey Man in this recipe as it is sweet, but still with some flavour to it.
I also chose to decorate my cake with a pumpkin flower from the garden, but if you can’t find one the cake can also be decorated with chopped walnuts, desiccated coconut, seeds, bee pollen, honey swirls… Whatever takes your fancy!

For the base:
140 grams walnuts
50 grams ground almonds (left overs from nut milk is fine!)
190 grams pitted dates
2 tbsp coconut oil
a pinch of sea salt

For the cake:
600 grams butternut squash
200 ml orange juice (fresh is of course best)
140 grams raw honey
180 ml coconut oil, melted and room temperature

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Peel the squash, half it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, cut into cubes and roast for 30-40 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, blend all the base ingredients in a food processor or with a hand mixer to a crumble-like consistence that holds together in a pinch.
Line an 18 cm spring-form baking tin with baking paper, spoon the base mix into the form and press it down with your fingers, making sure that it is of even height all around.
Refrigerate the base.

Once the squash is roasted, leave it to cool before adding it to a blender with the rest of the cake-ingredients and blent until completely smooth.
Remove the cake tin from the fridge and pour the cake filling over the cake base.
This is the time to decorate the cake if you so wish.
Then place the whole thing back into the fridge to set: a couple of hours will do, but overnight is better.

To serve, open the spring form and either cut the paper around the cake base or, if you are brave, carefully transfer the cake from the baking paper to a serving plate with the help of spatulas.
 


FERMENTED HONEY ENERGY BALLS

 

I got to try something very special when I let visited the Local Honey Man, namely fermented honey!
As you may know if you have ever read anything on this blog at all, I am ever so slightly obsessed with fermented foods, so this honey was right up my alley. It is sweet yet fermented, bitter, malty, almost a little bit like honey-beer.

Energy balls, bliss balls, raw balls; you’ve probably had one somewhere lately.
These things are all the rage these days and as there are so many wonderful recipes out there this is the first time I have seen any reason to create a recipe myself.
Why add another one to the pile?
Firstly, because I wanted to create something special in honour of the fermented honey instead of having to make this unique flavour fit into an other recipe and secondly because I find many energy balls too sweet for my liking.

If you read my post about foods to eat before exercise, you may recall that the ideal thing to eat before a workout is a high carb snack that will replenish your glycogen storage (=energy) while at the same time not being too fibrous so that it will linger in your stomach and make you queasy.
Dates are ideal as they are taken up by the bloodstream quickly to give you a burst of energy before physical activity.

If you can’t find fermented honey, another more bitter honey such as chestnut honey will do the trick here. Or, if you like it sweeter, feel free to substitute with any regular (RAW!) honey you can find.

50 grams ground almonds (left overs from nut milk is fine!)
3 tsp tahini
2.5 tsp raw honey
50 grams pitted dates
small pinch of sea salt
sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds into a paste in a food processor or with a hand mixer.
Pinch off enough dough to make a roughly 3cm ball and roll it in the sesame seeds, refrigerate for minimum 1 hour and enjoy.
Makes approx. 10 balls.