I love honey comb. And I love peanut butter. So when my sister sent me a recipe for a peanut butter and honey comb pie, which looks like it might be to die for, it was added to my ‘to do pile’ for over a year. As you have probably figured from the Baked Alaska, if individual component can be made instead of shop bought they will. So first I had to learn how to make honeycomb. Apparently honey comb is easy peasy. All you need is sugar, golden syrup, and bicarbonate soda. You melt the sugar and golden syrup in a pan and at the very end add the bicarbonate. Pour into a tray and wait to cool.There are lots of recipes online.
The quantities and techniques vary slightly. Nigella’s advises 100g sugar, 4 table spoons of golden syrup and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate. My freakshakes book has 200g sugar, 5 table spoons of golden syrup and 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate. I had a 3rd recipe with 3 teaspoons of bicarbonate. I’ve tried them all. All recipes state to melt the sugar and golden syrup in a pan and do not stir. It’s at this point I started having problems. Nigella advise to ‘let the mixture turn to goo and then to a bubbling mass the colour of maple syrup – this will take 3 minutes or so’, before stirring in the bicarbonate. I don’t the exact shade of colour of maple syrup. I’ve tried other recipes that advise to add the bicarbonate ‘once golden’… it’s already golden, at what point is it more golden? I even came across a reciepe that instructed to take off the heat before it burns. Helpful. I spent the whole time watching it bubble and wondering if it was about to burn. Needless to say it took me 6 attempts over 4 months to get the perfect honeycomb.
The first attempt was an epic failure. I had put the hot mixture into 2 baking tins and left to cool down. This resulted in a hard sweet that was stuck to the trays. After numerous attempts trying to remove the honeycomb, the honeycomb and trays went into the bin. For the second attempt I ended up with a fudge. I don’t like fudge so I’ve no idea if it was a nice fudge. So this was promptly put it in the bin. The third attempt was a toffee texture. Again, this went in the bin. I’m aware that that fudge, toffee and honeycomb are the same ingredients, but heated to different temperatures. Basically the longer you heat it the harder it becomes, I was getting closer to honeycomb with every attempt. My fourth attempt tasted like honeycomb. They only problem with it was the strange texture. The bottom half was toffee and the second half was like honeycomb. In the meantime I had done some further reading. The temperature I needed to get to was 152 degrees. So for attempt number 5th I used my thermometer. I also used three teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. I’ve finally cracked it. I had made honeycomb. It had bubbles. And was hard. And it could be smashed into smaller pieces. But it didn’t taste right. You could taste the bicarbonate of soda. So for my 6th attempt I used the ingredients from attempts number 4 with the technique of number 5, and made the perfect honey comb (well 9/10 according to my dad).
So, during this 4 month period and 6 attempts at making honey comb I leant something more important than how to make honeycomb. It might only be 3 simple ingredients; and 3 simple steps. But it’s the fact that baking (whether it’s baking something challenging like honeycomb, or something I’ve made again and again like carrot cake or icecream) gives me something to focus on other than my own thoughts. It gives me peace and quiet. So what I’m sharing with you isn’t a honeycomb recipe. It’s the secret of how to temporary quieten the inner voices.