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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Honey Chocolate Cake

I needed to bake a birthday cake and in my revision madness, had seen the Honey Chocolate Cake in Nigella's Feast and had my heart set on it. Those who got to taste my cake commented on the honey flavour as this rarely comes out when heated, as I typed the recipe I wondered if perhaps the muscovado sugar helped bring out more sweetness. The recipe states light muscovado but I had dark so this would have produced a sweeter cake. One friend was reminded of golden syrup so this would certainly be the molasses taste of muscovado.

When the cake came out of the oven, the smell reminded me of the Magic Faraway Tree at the Land of Treats when there are toffee pops and all things nice. It was so welcoming and sweet, and being quite delicate (hence the instructions to cool completey) if you find a small piece that flakes off, eating it will only tempt you to take a big bite out of the delicious, warm cake. You must then steady yourself and remind yourself that you are baking this for someone special and you must not destroy it!

The whole cake takes time and although the glaze is beautifully glossy, I think it's also superb on its own so would quite happily just have a plain honey chocolate cake the next time.

Nigella's Honey Chocolate Cake
100g Dark chocolate, broken into pieces
275g Light muscovado sugar
225g Soft butter
125ml Runny honey
2 Eggs

200g Plain flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 Tbl Cocoa

250ml Boiling Water

60ml Water
125ml Runny honey
175g Dark chocolate (finely chopped)

75g Icing sugar


25g Marzipan - yellow if found and desired
Flaked almonds

1) Whilst melting the cake chocolate, have all ingredients out so that everything is at room temperature. Set aside the chocolate to cool slightly.
2) Preheat the oven to 180C and butter and line a 23cm springform cake tin.

Fast method:
3a) Put everything for the cake but the boiling water in a food processor, mix and scrape the batter down. Then slowly add the water down the funnel with the motor running. Go to step 7 below.

Take your time:
3b) Beat together the sugar and butter until airy and creamy, then add the honey.
4) Add 1 egg, beating it with a tablespoon of flour, then the other egg with another tablespoon of flour.
5) Fold in the melted chocolate, the rest of the flour and the bicarbonate of soda.
6) Add in the cocoa (pushed through a sift so there are no lumps) and finally, beat in the boiling water.
7) Mix everything well and pour the smooth batter into prepared tin.
8) Bake for an hour - after 45 mins, check and if the cake is "catching", cover the top lightly with
9) Let the cake cool completely in the tin, on a rack.
10) For the glaze, bring the water and honey to boil in a saucepan and take off the heat.
11) Add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl it around to melt in the hot liquid.
12) Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth.
13) Cut four strips of baking paper to form a square outline for your cake to sit on. Place this on your plate or stand, this will prevent the glaze from running off your cake onto your plate.
14) Unclip the cake tin and sit the (cooled) cake on the plate, on the paper.
15) Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth it over the sides.*See note 1
16) Allow the glaze to harden - it can take an hour. Don't wash up, you want the leftover glaze.

17) Slide out the baking paper and you have a clean plate.
18) For the bees, divide the marzipan into 6 pieces and roll into fat bee bodies with a taper.
19) Push the flaked almonds into the marzipan bodies to form wings and dipping a skewer into the leftover glaze, decorate the bees.
20) Decorate your cake with the bees!

1) Making the cake isn't hard, the glaze is the tricky part. Although I've given measures according to the recipe, *I found that I had too much glaze so don't be tempted to pour a whole lot over the cake. It is deceptively liquid and before you know it, the baking paper will have gathered a lovely pool of glaze. The glaze is also very tacky until it hardens so handle with care.
2) The marzipan quantity gives 6 bees... I wanted many more. Nigella references that smiley bees are Disney and loveable whereas just having 2 dots as the eyes is rather Napoleanic - I went Disney!
3) I haven't given an exact quantity for the flaked almonds. You know each bee has 2 wings but the almond flakes are delicate and some will inevitably break as you lovingly give your creatures wings.

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