Blind cook and pot of honey is recipe for stickiness everywhere

One of the joys of my time at the LightHouse for the Blind (who kindly provided these images) in San Francisco was cooking with Sydney.  She is their instructor chef who herself has very limited vision.  And she enthusiastically allowed me in to her immaculate training kitchen to create havoc and make the honey cake I’d learned from MasterChef champion, Steven Edwards.

By the end of the morning, I was sticky up to my elbows as was the working surface, sink taps, spoons, bowls and virtually everything down my side of the kitchen.  I had to completely change my clothes afterwards.

And the cake was very much touch and go.  Weighing the dry ingredients was easy but, even between us, achieving 200g of egg whites was a challenge.  I’m not sure if the American hens are fed on something different but their shells didn’t really crack but rather collapsed inwards.  Once opened, we were trying to drop the egg in to a separator that was far too small and that wobbled precariously on the edge of a bowl.  And then, of course, there was the honey. The electric mixer made short work of whizzing together the egg whites and dry ingredients

It took two of us huddled over the stove listening to the butter bubbling and then the smell changing to decide that it had browned.

Even once we had the cake batter mixed, we were very dubious as it seemed far too liquid so extra spoonsful of flour and ground almonds were whisked in.  As to the baking tin, there was nothing like Steven’s deep square tin so we compromised with one of those round ones with a hole in the middle to make a ring cake.  This meant that there was less surface to cook which resulted in nearly double the time in the oven.

All of this was to be dessert for a lunch for 12 and, at one stage, it was looking pretty hopeless.  I was wondering how I could make something nearly presentable with a loaf and the rest of the honey.

A cocktail stick is still the best way of testing If a cake is done - and here it came out clean after 40 minutes in the oven.Nail-biting minutes later the cake emerged: lightly golden, springy and coming away from the sides of the tin.  It flopped out perfectly and, after multiple prods with a cocktail stick, it was anointed with the honey and orange juice syrup (the Americans call this a “poke” cake for obvious reasons).  Meanwhile, I’d toasted some walnut pieces and then candied them in yet more honey so that they made a crisp and sticky topping.

Steven’s wonderful winning recipe was even more adulterated as I’d added orange zest to the batter and on the base of the baking tin – he is probably cringing!Penny stirring the small pan of honey and orange juice to make the syrup to pour over the cake.

But it all worked surprisingly well: light and full of flavour without being too sweet – it disappeared very fast.

Another time, I’ll share Sydney’s Marbella chicken – with prunes, olives and much more.  She certainly deserved one of the Baking Blind apron medals for all her patience and the clearing-up!

PennyThe ring shaped cake is golden brown on the white plate, topped with shiny and sticky walnut pieces.

If you think that disability is no bar to being a great cook, please Like my 90 second Baking Blind clip

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probationery third officer melville brown WRNSI’m thrilled to have been invited to join the competition for the Holman prize being run by the San Francisco Lighthouse organisation for blind and visually impaired people ( $25,000 to enable a blind person to fulfil their ambition.

Spookily enough, it commemorates another blind Royal Navy officer: James Holman travelled around the world solo in the early 19th century.  And, of course, in this centenary year for the Women’s Royal Naval Service, its good to have a female perspective too!

Cooking around the world would be my own adventure to show  that , while being blind still doesn’t limit our ambition and abilities , 21st century life makes our aspirations even more achievable.  And our modern communications (like my Baking Blind YouTube channel, blogs, website and more) can shine a different light on life with a disability for a truly international audience.

Cakes with icing and pewter decorations

Cakes with icing and pewter decorations

I’d be hugely grateful if you could support my bid for the prize.

Please Share and encourage your friends and contacts (at home and overseas) to do the same.

While the prize would be a great boost, I’m still committed to Baking Blind as a way to show that living with a disability can be fun and fulfilling.    I’m always adding new videos to the channel and the recipes are available from (and can be downloaded as accessible word documents).  I’d very much welcome your contribution: ideas, any practical support, recipes, links to your material and more.

You might also be interested in why I joined the navy.

The finished article

The finished article

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd

Helping disabled people to work since 2000