When the cold and dark days of English autumn creep in, all my baking efforts seem to turn naturally to fragrant spices: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves. Practically and traditionally, the dominance of spices during winter months is due to their preserving and anti-bacterial qualities - in the absence of fresh food, they keep produce and meat and help battle colds and coughs. But to me they become, more romantically, a form of escapism. Warming and perfumed, they're talismans that transports us, when the sun is setting at 3 in the afternoon, to sunnier months and more exotic climes. Moroccan markets, Turkish bazaars.
It follows that their natural partner in baking should be that other preserving, healing substance that owes everything to summer. Buckwheat honey, which I've been fed since childhood whenever I had a sore throat, is no ordinary, tame honey. I've seen it described, aptly, as the "tall, dark stranger of honeys". It is indeed dark, sharp, deeply fragrant.
No recipe with this post, as I didn't take down quantities when I made the honey cream filling for these tarts. Simply whip a cup of double cream, slowly drizzling in as much buckwheat honey as strikes your fancy - I think I used about 3 tablespoons - and add just a bit of cardamom and nutmeg. Apologies for the awful photo - light is at a premium in the UK this time of year!