Let’s talk about cooking with an enchanted ingredient, an elixir. This liquid gold is made from the nectar of a thousand flowers and the work of over 10 000 perfectly choreographed little bees. Let’s make magic.
You know that slightly rushed, panicked feeling that characterises most of our lives? It is no excuse. Bees have it too, in fact they live to be only six or seven weeks old. What they achieve in so little time is remarkable. Through their masterful pollination skills and their sexy little dances, they are responsible for over one third of all the food we eat. We ought to raise a toast to the incredible productivity of the honeybee.
Bee wings stroke astoundingly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus producing their legendary, jazzy buzz. They spend their time dancing, communicating, sharing, scouting and sucking it all in. After a day’s work they wiggle home, heavy with treasure — pollen and nectar from all sorts of extraordinary flowers from around the ‘hood. They then head on home to that fascinating structure we call the hive; that hyperengineered, thoughtfully hexagonal structure that has captured so many of our imaginations.
Our beekeeping story started with a fascinating visit to the Babylonstoren Bee Hotel. Kitted out with the essential beekeeping paraphernalia — a protective veil, gloves, smoker and hive tools — we were introduced to the colony of Cape Honey Bees that traverse the illustrious eight-acre gardens. The wholesome honey that is produced from Babylonstoren has its very own flavour profile, texture and taste; a bouquet of the countless plant species in the area.
A·PI·CUL·TURE ‘āpi kəlCHər/
– Technical term for beekeeping
Whether served as a liquid, creamed or in the comb, this honey is wonderful stuff. It contains many beneficial minerals and vitamins and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It speeds the healing process and combats infections. And it never spoils. Now how’s that for a magical potion?
Join DECO and Maranda Engelbrecht, the epicurean sorcerer, as we cook up a swarm:
BAKED RHUBARB WITH FIG, AMARETTO AND TOASTED HONEY ORGANIC OATS
4 stalks rhubarb
60ml raw honey
30ml melted butter
2 ripe figs
250g rolled oats
90ml raw honey
pinch of salt
250ml double thick yoghurt
a piece of fresh honeycomb
For the Baked Rhubarb Oats: Preheat the oven to 160°C. Slice the rhubarb into large pieces and place in a piece of tinfoil with the two whole figs. Drizzle with raw honey and butter. Fold the tinfoil to close and place on an oven tray. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until just soft. Remove and keep warm.
Use a large saucepan and toast the oats with cinnamon, butter and 90ml raw honey over a low heat, until the oats start to caramelise. Add a pinch of salt and more honey if necessary.
Plate the rhubarb, fig and some oats. Drizzle with the cooking juices, Amaretto and honey. Garnish with a thin slice of honeycomb and raspberries. Serve with yoghurt on the side.
This article originally featured in Issue 101 of Elle Decoration
Photographs Adel Ferreira Production, Recipes and Styling Maranda Engelbrecht Text Bielle Bellingham
Try your hand at our Rhubarb Guava and Rosewater Ice Cream Recipe