Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Happy Bee-day!

Chocolate Honey Cake 7

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.

Chocolate Honey Cake 6

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.

Chocolate Honey Cake 4

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
125ml honey
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb
1 tbsp cocoa
250ml boiling water

for the glaze
60ml water
125ml honey
175g dark chocolate
75g icing sugar

for the bees
25g royal icing/fondant/marzipan
flaked almonds

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.



essie said...

thank you for my cake! it was so very delicious!

Hermione Agee said...

Om nom indeed. If I could spell that sound Homer Simpson makes when he drools I would write that too :o)

Tara said...

Such a beautiful cake!

Johanna GGG said...

that cake is beautiful - and full of honey and chocolate - what else do you need on your birthday!

Anonymous said...

What a sensational cake for a sensational Birthday Girl.

Anonymous said...

looks amazing! you are a hell of a lady friend s-j; i will be showing this to gareth with some strong hints...

happy birrthday es!


s-j said...

@essie - NP, BB! <3

@Hermione - yeah, how do you write that sound? It would be so useful!

@Tara - Thank you!

@Johanna - It was an even more delicious combination than I was expecting. A+++

@Anon1 - Indeed!

@sb - lol! Gareth should get baking!

lilacsigil said...

I made this cake today, in celebration of hitting 50,000 words on my Nano! I discovered that the springform pan is utterly necessary, as my cake is very ugly, but very delicious. OM NOM NOM thank you for the recipe!

(I have a fairly new, reliable, even temperature oven and I had to use foil, too.)

s-j said...

@lilacsigil - Y HULLO THAR! Also, awesome huge congrats on Nano! That is amazing!
I'm kind of happy that it wasn't just me and my oven having some issues but I'm mainly happy that the cake was delicious for you! Yay!

Rayanne Graff said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the recipe, am totally making this for my housemate's b'day but too cheap to buy the book.

mariarita said...

Hey s-j!

Okay,so I made this cake yesterday. And it was good. But when I made the glaze, I let the cake cool and THEN made the glaze, and poured it over when it was still a teensy bit warm. So it didn't set for ages and ages, and the sides of the cake looked Niagara falls. Okay, so that might have been a bit of a exaggeration, but you get my point.

Also, when I put the cake in the oven, and it rose up nicely (etc., etc.,) and then took it out, the cake sunk. Do you know why?/what can I do to stop this from happening? It was flat. Like a pancake.

Anyway, thanks for posting the recipe! You're awesome, and one daring baker. :)

s-j said...

@Harriet Olivia - I hope it worked out for you! I can totally understand not wanting to buy the book (that's what the internets is for, right?) but it is a lovely book with many delicious things in it if you are ever in a spending money on cookbooks mood.

@mariarita - My cake was a bit Niagara Falls-y too but I think that's just the nature of it. The glaze does take a long time to set and Nigella does say to leave it to completely cool before glazing. So, that might have contributed to the waterfalls-y effect.
As for the flatness - when you say 'pancake', do you literally mean pancake flat? It's possible I missed something in the recipe then.
Nope, everything is there. Was it old bicarb? I don't know if that is a complete myth but maybe it had lost it's rise.
Mine didn't rise heaps - as you can see in the pictures, it is a pretty low cake.

I'm glad you tried the recipe!

mariarita said...

Hey s-j!

No, it wasn't pancake flat, but from going from the top of the pan (about 6 cms, it sunk down to about 3, possibly four centimetres.

I'm didn't use bicarb - I used baking powder, because whenever I used it in recipes that said bicarb, it was fine. But I'm not sure whether it was old or not (does that even apply to bpowder?)

When you put the boiling water in, did your cake batter turn almost to water? It could be that I didn't put in enough flour/something else, but I'm not sure. That could have something to do with the flattening out.