Monday, February 21, 2011

hokey pokey / honeycomb: take 1

Honeycomb has been on my baking to-do list for quite some time now. It's one of those things that I see and think, 'I really must make this some day.' On Saturday, as John & I were deciding what to provide for Church refreshments, Little Miss Honeycomb popped into my head. It seemed like the perfect time to make it.

Heating sugar is something that I have a mild fear about doing. It is so easy to burn & so I tend to avoid making caramel, or anything that involves heating sugar to soaring temperatures in a pan. Sugar in cakes is perfectly safe because it's contained, surrounded by the strength of butter and the powdery disguise of flour, that make it become less dangerous. That, and it's baked in the oven, rather than over a hot hob in a pan without a lid. These factors set alarm bells ringing in my head for a recipe for disaster. 

But somehow, hokey pokey has a welcoming feel about it. By adding golden syrup to sugar rather than water, as you would if making caramel, somehow it seems less dangerous in its more viscous form. Also, there's the fun part where you add bicarbonate of soda and watch the sugary mixture bubble up until it's almost spilling out of the pan, making the recipe feel like a fun science experiment.
I used Nigella's recipe & tripled the quantities to make a bigger batch of the golden crunchy stuff.

Here's how we rolled:

Having combined the sugar & golden syrup off the heat, I put the pan on a gentle heat and let the heat of the hob work its magic. After about 4 minutes, the sugar and golden syrup had turned into a lovely golden hue, bubbling away gently. The joy of this stage is that it requires nothing of you, except a watchful eye to ensure it doesn't burn. No stirring is required at this point.

Once it has reached the golden, bubbly stage & all the sugar has melted, remove from the heat & whisk in the bi-carbonate of soda. This is the fun bit. The honeycomb turns from a syrup into a foaming, rising froth. There's the added excitement that the mixture might just rise so high that it rolls out of the pan, but thankfully this didn't happen. But I held my breath & my camera, just in case it did.

I made a slight error here in that I re-whisked the mixture before pouring it onto parchment to cool. This knocked all of the air out of the honeycomb, and made it rather flat. I think if I had not re-whisked it, once I had poured it out to set, it would have continued to rise a bit more. Lesson learned for hokey pokey take 2

For some reason, my hokey pokey is not brittle. It's stretchy. And when I say stretchy, it's like seriously strong elastic. It can't be broken, snapped, or cut with a knife. We simply have to tear strips off with our bare hands to enjoy the sweet goodness. 

So, it ended up that we didn't serve this at church and it's still sitting in a neatly folded pile on our working surface. Yep, I did indeed fold my honeycomb up to take up less space. Although it's not really meant to be a foldable food, I quite like this little quirk.

I wanted to try making it again in time for church, this time only whisking it when adding the bi-carb, but I had run out of sugar & golden syrup. 
Hokey pokey / honeycomb - whatever you choose to call it - is so quick & easy to make. I would definitely recommend it if you need a sweet treat to take to a friend. Click here for the full recipe.


Ros De Silva said...

hokey pokey? please explain!

Hannah said...

The name Hokey Pokey comes from New Zealand - it's their name for honeycomb. According to Nigella Lawson, it's also the Cornish term for Honeycomb, so I am not totally sure where it originates from!