My favorite part of adulthood? Eating cake whenever I want. My new favorite—Bottega’s latest burnt honey cake. I talked with the creative duo behind the cake, Frank Stitt and Mark Christie, to learn the inspiration behind this magical dessert. Here’s what I learned.
The story behind the cake
If you’re a Birmingham foodie like me, you know who Frank Stitt is. Along with being the owner and executive chef of Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega Restaurant and Chez Fon Fon, he’s a James Beard Award-Winning Chef. In other words, he’s a big deal in the culinary world.
He introduced the burnt honey cake to Bottega after reading another celebrated chef Michelle Polzine’s cookbook, Baking at the 20th Century Cafe: Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake. Stitt’s fascination with the cake grew when a chef friend of his told him that this was the best cake he’d ever had.
Stitt asked Mark Christie, one of Bottega’s pastry chefs, to experiment with the recipe. Just six weeks later, the cake is on the menu and trending as the best thing you’ll ever eat.
“There was just like this amazing fascination… I wanted to have another bite. It was just really intriguing, almost on an intellectual level of this flavor that just pulled you in… this caramelized essence. Then there is this kind of complex honey note. And it’s not too sweet. It’s not too rich.”Frank Stitt
10 layers of mouthwatering goodness
Bottega’s new burnt honey cake is truly a labor of love. Pastry Chef Mark Christie starts by baking 10 individual layers of the sweet honey cake. After each cake cools, he layers them with the pièce de résistance—a burnt honey dulce de leche frosting.
If you’ve never tried burnt honey, you might wonder why chefs would purposefully burn their food. It’s all about adding depth to the flavor. The burnt honey tastes as rich as caramel, but it’s still light and refreshing—a major feat for 10 layers of cake.
I love adding honey to everything, so I was curious about the honey they use in this cake. Turns out, it’s another local business: Eastaboga Bee Company. They work with Justin, a local beekeeper and honey guru.
To round off the cake, Chef Mark Christie applies a crust of toasted cake crumbs. The end result is a refreshing cake that’s perfectly sweet without being too heavy.
“One of the first times we tried it, we questioned whether we should serve anything with it and there was a resounding no. The cake stands for itself and has every component of what you would want to finish a meal.”Mark Christie
Ya heard it here first—this cake is Bottega’s next big thing
Each bite of the cake was better than the last. Fair warning—you’ll probably gobble it all in just a few minutes and then wonder where your huge slice of cake went.
For now, the burnt honey cake will only be at Bottega. Make a reservation for the patio (you’ll feel like you were transported to a charming European city) with coworkers or friends, then order a cup of coffee and this cake. With a sweet this good, you may as well have dessert first.
- Address: 2240 Highland Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205
- Restaurant Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11AM-9PM
- Curbside Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:30AM-9PM
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