Saturday, June 21, 2008

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow - Honey Chocolate Cake

This Friday, Tarun, an accountant in our team at work, departed for the big wide world. He is going to take 6 months off to go home and spend some time with his parents before coming back to Oz to take up a graduate traineeship in a big bank.

Last year, I helped Tarun to make his own birthday cake, which was a Nigella Lawson chocolate cake recipe, so it seemed only fitting that I make Tarun another Nigella chocolate cake for his farewell.

For ages, I have wanted to make Nigella's honey chocolate cake (from p276 of Feast), partly because the flavour combination appealed to me, and partly because I fell in love with the cute bees that she used to decorate the top of the cake. I hadn't done so yet because of the rather large quantities of honey and chocolate that are contained in the cake (putting it in the "special occasion" category), but Tarun's sendoff seemed like the perfect excuse to indulge. Note that this cake takes over an hour to bake, so if you decide to make it, ensure that you have a leisurely morning or afternoon set aside to do so (or you could, like me, start at 6.30pm and still be finishing the decorating at 12 in the morning).

To make your very own cute as a button honey chocolate cake, you will need:


100g dark chocolate pieces
275g light brown sugar (Nigella uses muscovado sugar)
225g softened butter
125ml honey
2 eggs
200g sifted plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon sifted cocoa powder
250ml boiling water


60ml water
125ml honey
175g finely chopped dark chocolate or chocolate buttons
75g sifted icing sugar


25g marzipan, tinted yellow
12 flaked almonds
white chocolate for piping (if desired)

Melt the chocolate for the cake on the stovetop and set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin.

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer, then beat in the honey. Add one egg with a tablespoon of the plain flour, beat well, then add the second egg with another tablespoon of the plain flour and beat well. Stir through the melted chocolate, then the remainder of the flour and the bicarbonate of soda. Mix in the cocoa, and then the boiling water. Beat until you have a smooth, pourable batter and pour into the cake tine. Place in the oven and bake for between 1 and one and a half hours, depending on your oven. (Nigella recommends checking it every 15 minutes after the 45 minute mark. Mine took 1 hour 15 minutes.)

Remove the cooked cake from the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack.

Once the cake is completely cool (and it takes a while - it is a big cake!!), make the glaze. Put the honey and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat amd stir through the chocolate until it melts. Add the icing sugar, and whisk until you have a smooth, pourable icing.

Pour the glaze over the cake until it is completely covered (you will have heaps left over). To make the bees, divide the marzipan into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece between the palms of your hands until you have short, fat bee shaped bodies. Stick two flaked almonds into each bee for wings then, using the leftover glaze, paint stripes and eyes on the bees using a skewer, then position the bees on the cake. Watch your bees for a while, because some of mine tipped in the sticky, runny glaze until it hardened up a bit. If you want a message on your cake, melt some white chocolate and pipe it on using a paper piping bag.

This cake was a very yummy, honey flavoured delight. It seemed to get a tick of approval from the punters, and because it is a relatively large cake, it fed our large crowd of about 20 easily (we only get small pieces, but that is usually plenty).

Good luck Tarun - and I wanna see you put those cake making skills taught to you by Sam and I to good use!


Johanna said...

After making chocolate honey muffins recently I am totally won over to the chocolate honey combo but I was surprised there is no honey in the cake!

Love your bees - sounds much easier that some marzipan fruit I was looking at recently which seems to take ages to set the colour

Cakelaw said...

Whoops - thanks Johanna, I left out that crucial ngreident in the ingredients list, so it would have puzzled the poor souls trying it when I referred to adding honey n the method. Now fixed!!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

What a pretty cake! It really looks delicious. I love your little honey bees! You've become a cake decorating maniac! ;)

I'm confused about the bicarb of soda. Don't you take that stuff for an upset stomach? Or do I have the wrong thing?

Peter M said...

Cake, a fantastic looking cake, kind gesture from you and you win me over with the use of marziapan!

Happy cook said...

WOw that cake looks gorgeous and delicious.
Lucky Tarun to have a friend like u to make this.
Good luck to him in his future plans

Emiline said...

You have too many co-workers that leave. Hope your boss isn't too hard on you. :)

I know EXACTLY what cake you're talking about. I've wanted to make this cake for years!
It looks delicious. Love the bees.

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Susan - bicarb of soda has all kinds of uses - it is in things like Salvital for upset stomachs, but it is also a rising agent, can be used as an odour absorber and as a cleaning agent!!

Hi Peter, the bees were fun to make.

Happy, I will pass on your good wishes.

Hi Emiline, I know - just when you least expect it, another one leaves. My boss isn't too hard on me - my personal grief mainly comes from other sources.

Big Boys Oven said...

love this cake, looks so incredible delicious.

Aparna said...

Lucky Tarun all right. A good friend and a delicious chocolate cake.

Jeena said...

What a treat he had, I bet he would have left sooner if he knew he would receive this delicious cake! :-D

Y said...

Very very cute cake. You must be the official provider of sweets at your work!

Agnes said...

Lovely cake - the bees are so cute!

And, thank you SO MUCH for being my BBM "angel"! :D It was so lovely to get your parcel.