Tuesday, 17 November 2009
On the weekend, it was my lovely girlfriend Esther’s birthday! Hooray! Even though we went out to high tea with a bunch of friends and there was more cake than you could poke a stick at, I still declared that you cannot have a birthday without a homemade cake and any thoughts to the contrary were a travesty. So, a week ago, we sat down with How To Be A Domestic Goddess and Feast to start the labourious task of choosing a cake.
Official Birthday Cake Choosing Process
1. S-J to read out likely looking cake names from the book. Esther to register interest in certain cakes. Shortlist created.
2. S-J to show pictures of shortlisted cakes to Esther. More cuts made.
3. S-J to read out Nigella’s description to Esther. More cuts made.
4. Ultimate winner declared.
So, you see, birthday cakes are very serious business.
Esther chose Nigella’s Chocolate Honey Cake from Feast mainly, I think, because the bees on top were so cute. She does love honey though so it might have been a combination of factors. There was going to be more rounds of voting as I brought in my 195 delicious bookmarks but there was a clear favourite from the outset.
This was a lovely cake to make – it was fairly easy and not particularly time consuming. The best thing about it was that it filled the house with a lovely rich honey smell which was delicious. My only issue was the top of the cake catching a bit but I think that had more to do with the FrankenOven and me upping the temperature a bit to compensate for the lack of insulation of the oven and Nigella did warn against it. After about 30 minutes, I put some aluminium foil over the tin and it was fine. It wasn’t noticeable at all in the final product so hooray!
To me, this is one of those infuriating cakes where you have to let it cool completely before glazing which is just epic baking mocking in my book – the cake is there but don’t eat it! I wasn’t entirely sold the glaze until I had a finished piece of cake (why yes, I did dip a spoon into the glaze to . . . test it). The bees were made by the birthday girl herself who is supremely talented at the fondant-related crafts.
This cake was seriously delicious – the cake somehow managed to be cakey & dense and light & smooth at the same time. It was rich but not so rich that you rub your tummy and cry afterwards. And, most surprising to me considering the quantitiy of honey, the honey flavour was very subtle and added a lovely note to an outstanding chocolate cake. Well done, Nigella.
Chocolate Honey Cake
From Nigella Lawson's Feast
for the cake
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
275g brown sugar
225g butter, soft
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb
1 tbsp cocoa
250ml boiling water
for the glaze
175g dark chocolate
75g icing sugar
for the bees
25g royal icing/fondant/marzipan
Preheat the oven to 180c and butter and line a 23cm springform pan.
Melt the chocolate in the manner you prefer. Leave to cool slightly.
Beat the sugar and butter until airy and creamy and then add in the honey. Add the eggs one at a time, with a spoon full of flour in between each egg. Fold in the melted chocolate, the rest of the flour and the bicarb. Add the cocoa and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then (carefully) beat in the boiling water. Mix well and then pour into the prepared tin.
Cook for an hour but check regularly and cover with foil if it catches.
Let cake cool.
To make the glaze, bring the water and honey to the boil in a smallish saucepan, take of the heat and add the chocolate, swirling it around so it melts. Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth.
When the cake is cold, pout the glaze over the cake and smooth it down the sides. It takes a while to set so prepare at least an hour before you want to serve it.
To make the bees, add some yellow food colouring to the bee makings of your choice and mix in. Pinch a little bit off and roll into a little sausage. Use a skewer to paint on some stripes of left over glaze (and eyes if you wish). Use the flaked almonds to make wings.
EAT AND ENJOY! OM NOM.