Saturday, 1 September 2012

Honeycomb Layer Cake

Today is my birthday!  So now I'm 24.  And engaged, since the boyfriend proposed to me this morning over presents (and should probably be promoted to 'the fiancĂ©' now).  I may just be terribly chuffed.

Anyway, I've usually made my own birthday cake since I was about...9...10, after my first brother was born at the very least (on my eighth birthday, I was not happy).  I was never a fan of store bought cakes, especially as I didn't really like buttercream at the time.  So I figured I would start making my own so I could have it any way I wanted!  Usually it was a pretty simple sponge made of fairy cake batter with jam in and rolled out fondant on top, decorated with something to do with whatever I was into at the time.  Admittedly my first cake was a domed ladybird covered in chocolate.  Very nice although the middle didn't cook properly...But I was 9/10.  I thought I did quite well in spite of everything.

My point is, I do this every year.  It's just this year I divulged from the norm slightly by not doing my usual cake.  Last year was an experiment with a new sponge recipe but was still a vanilla sponge.  It was the origin of the chocolate orange buttercream though.  This year I stumbled across this cake on Preheat the Oven, the blog of 2011 Great British Bake Off contestant Jason, back at the end of July and knew it was what I wanted for my birthday cake.

It was a bit more of a challenge than I thought.  The honeycomb gave me the most trouble and took me three attempts before I could melt all the sugar without some of it burning and ruining the whole thing.  My poor fiancĂ© is now trying to clean up the mess I made of the saucepans as he clears up my kitchen (being the birthday girl has some perks).  I've also never covered a whole cake in buttercream before, so that was interesting.  I've by no means done a perfect job.  Far from it in fact.  But I'm still rather pleased.

The only other thing I can say about the cake that disappointed me was that it was a bit flatter than expected.  But that's my own fault.  I was very silly when reading through the recipe to see if I had all the ingredients and forgot to check the size of tin.  It was supposed to be a 6 inch tin, which I did not have and could not find when I was in Kirkcaldy.  I was kicking myself for not buying the ones I saw in Sainsbury's last week.  That's what I get for behaving myself.  So mine is made in 7 inch tins instead, because that's the smallest I could find.

Taste wise it is quite lovely.  You can taste the honey in the cake but it's not too strong, which is great if you're not much of a honey lover, like myself.  The buttercream is quite sweet but not ridiculously so and the honeycomb is lovely, crunchy and sweet.

Recipe - adapted from Preheat the Oven 

For the cakes:
  • 150g/5.3oz unsalted butter
  • 180g/6.3oz light brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g/5.3oz self-raising flour
  • 75g/2.6oz plain flour
  • 75ml/2.6fl.oz milk
  • 6 tbsp honey
For the honeycomb:
  • 100g/3.5oz caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the buttercream:
  • 480g/17oz icing sugar
  • 120g/4.2oz unsalted butter
  • 60ml/2fl.oz milk at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Grease and line a 15cm/6inch cake tin (you can use a 17.5cm/7inch pan like I did but you get a shorter, wider cake obviously).
  2. Start by making the cakes.  You make the batter for each cake individually, using 1/3 of the ingredients for each.
  3. Beat together 60g/2.1oz of sugar and 50g/1.8oz butter until pale and creamy.
  4. Add one egg and beat in.
  5. Combine 50g/1.8oz self-raising flour and 25g/0.6oz plain flour together in a bowl.  Add half to the cake batter and mix in.
  6. Add 25ml/0.6fl.oz milk and 2 tbsp of honey to the batter and mix in.
  7. Add the rest of the flour and beat in until smooth.
  8. Transfer batter to the cake tin, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
  9. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  11. Repeat steps 3-10 until you have a total of three cakes.
  12. To make the honeycomb, first prepare a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. 
  13. Put the sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and place over a medium heat.  I recommend using a fairly large saucepan that distributes heat evenly and place it on the biggest ring on your hob.  That way most of the sugar should dissolve at the same rate.
  14. You want the sugar to melt and the mixture to be the colour of honey.  Do not stir.  Just be patient.
  15. When the mixture is the right colour, quickly add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk it in, then pour immediately onto the prepared baking sheet.
  16. Leave to one side to set.
  17. To make the buttercream, mix half the icing sugar together with the butter, vanilla extract and milk until smooth and creamy.
  18. Add the rest of the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition.  The result should be thick and creamy.
  19. Transfer 1/3 of the buttercream to a different bowl.
  20. Crush 30g/1oz of the honeycomb and mix it in to the smaller amount of buttercream.
  21. Place the first layer of cake on a cake board or serving plate and cover the top with half the honeycombed buttercream.
  22. Place the second layer on top, cover with the second half of the honeycombed buttercream, then top with the final layer.  Press down gently to squish them together a bit more.
  23. Cover the top and sides of the cake in a fairly thin layer of buttercream to create a crumb coat.  This is basically to prevent crumbs showing through.
  24. Coat the top and sides with a thicker layer of buttercream, smoothing over as you go.
  25. Break off about 6 large-ish shards of honeycomb and place on top.  Break the remaining honeycomb into small piece and place around the base of the cake.  If there's still a bit left over after that, crush it and sprinkle it on top.

No comments:

Post a Comment