Monday, July 4, 2011

Nigella's honey chocolate cake and blogversary

On the weekend this little blog of mine celebrated its first year.

I will not bore you with the usual blablabla about how much this amazing experience has helped me out of my comfort zone (in the kitchen, on my laptop and with my camera) and introduced me to a whole new community of friends and food lovers all over the world.

You've heard this, you've done this, you don't need to read about it again. B.O.R.I.N.G.

If I were Martha Stewart I could show you a blooper reel of the past year.
For example me crouched over on a chair in my undies and a t-shirt to get that perfect picture of a cookie. Forgetting the window is wide open behind me. It happenend.
Or me pulling the hand beater out of the bowl and forgetting to turn it off. I am still cleaning chocolate batter sprays off the walls.
There have been many such moments (and great moments too of course)

But I am not Martha Stewart and I am no Nigella Lawson either. The closest I can get is making one of her signature recipes and that is what I did to celebrate.

Before I get into baking technicalities, just one last thing.

I see from my stats that I have lots of silent readers and several followers. I was a reader of blogs for many years before I started commenting and interacting with bloggers and I know that doesn't make a person any less passionate or interested. I just wanted to acknowledge you, a year in, and tell you I know you are out there and how much I appreciate your presence. Thank you. If you ever feel like it, like dropping a line or asking me a question, I would love to hear from you.

Back to baking.

Making Nigella's chocolate honey bee cake was quite simple, but keep in mind there are a few steps and it is important you have enough time to let the cake and glaze cool before assembling.
Making the bees was a lot of fun. I made them with my daughter, who is five, and she really did a good job, so it can be a fun family activity.
As always occurs when I need a key ingredient, the only box of marzipan paste I found was damaged, so I had to resort to making my own. It was a revelation, it is that easy!

The only two problems I encountered where following:
1. Nigella suggests using a cup of boiling water for the batter. My batter was already quite runny with half a cup so I didn't use the whole amount. My springform pan is old and a bit battered and I have had problems with runny batter seeping out during baking in the past, so I didn't want to risk it. And it did seep out a bit anyway. I brought the cake to a party and it was finished before I had a chance to eat a slice. I did however steal a nibble from my daughter and did not find the cake as moist/gooey as I expected and Nigella described. I wonder if that made a difference? I only baked the cake for an hour, so I don't think it was overbaked.
2. Nigella also suggests covering the cake after 45 minutes if the top looks cooked, which I did. The cake was perfect when I covered it but it sunk in the middle a few minutes after covering, which was very disappointing. No biggie, as she suggests turning it over for the icing, but it was a little of a letdown.

Besides that, it was fun and easy to make and looked like a million bucks. So if you are not a "domestic goddess" and want to impress, this is the cake for you.

Ingredients (for about 10 servings)

For the cake
100g/4oz. dark chocolate, broken into pieces
275g/1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
225g/2 sticks soft butter
125ml/1/2 cup runny honey
2 eggs
200g/1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cocoa powder
250ml/1 cup boiling water

For the honey glaze:
60ml /1/4 cup water
125ml/1/4 cup runny honey
175g/6 oz. dark chocolate
75g/3/4 cup icing/confectioner's sugar

For the bees:
35g yellow marzipan
16 flaked almonds

For the marzipan:
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup almond meal
about 2 tbsp water

All ingredients should be at room temperature. Melt chocolate for cake part and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and butter and line a 23cm/9inch springform cake pan.
Beat together the sugar and butter until creamy, then add the honey. Beat in one egg and a tablespoon of the flour and then the other egg with another tablespoon of flour. Fold in the melted chocolate and then add (sifting) the rest of the flour, the baking soda and cocoa. Beat in the boiling water. Mix everything to obtain a smooth batter and pour into the prepared pan. Cook for about an hour (but even up to an hour and a half), but check the cake after 45 minutes and if the top looks quite cooked cover the top lightly with foil and check every 15 minutes. When ready take out and let cake cool in the tin on a rack. 

Bring the water and honey to a boil in a small saucepan, then turn off heat and add the chopped chocolate. When it starts melting, whisk it together. Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth. Make a square outline with baking paper on the plate you will put the cake on so when you put the icing on, the glaze will not run out all over the plate. Unclip the pan and place the cake on the prepared plate when it has cooled totally. Make sure the icing has cooled completely too and pour it over the cake and smooth it down the sides. It takes at least an hour for the glaze to start hardening a little. Very gently slide out the strips of baking paper for a clean plate (mine drizzled down again after this step). Keep the leftover glaze to decorate the bees.

While my cake and glaze were cooling I made the marzipan for the bees. Mix together the almond meal and icing sugar in a bowl and then add the water a few drops at a time while working the paste with your fingers. There is your marzipan. Who knew it was so easy?

Divide the marzipan into eight pieces and shape them into a sausage-like shape. Using a toothpick or similar, paint three stripes with the leftover glaze.  Very carefully attach the almonds at an angle to make the bees' wings. You can also make eyes.


  1. Happy 1st blogoversary!!! :-)))) What a FANTASTIC cake and those bees are sooo cute! I am a chocoholic so that cake would be a big danger for me... I may eat it all by myself... it just looks too good!!!

  2. Happiest anniversary! Those little bees are so sweet, and I bet the cake was delicious -- you earned it for stickin' around & putting it out there for all of us to enjoy on the Internet (whether we comment or not).

  3. Congrats on your first year of blogging!

    I love that cake! I looks incredibly yummy and patisserie quality: can you send me a slice?

  4. Congrats on the year thing - that's awesome!! I am super impressed by this cake, how lovely is this?!?!?! Also, you crack me up! I have often thought about how funny it is the lengths we "food bloggers" go through to get "the perfect shot!" SO FUNNY!!!

  5. Congratulations on your blog anniversary.

  6. Love the idea with the cute! Happy Blog Anniversary! That's exciting....

  7. This is so amazing, it must have taken quite a long time, the bees are adorable and whimsical.

  8. Congratulations on your blogsoversary! May there be many, many more delicious ones to come too! I loved this cake as soon as I saw it in her book! :D Your version is perfect!

  9. Manu - thanks. It is thanks to you that I ever even thought of making my own marzipan.
    Meister - thank you. I agree, commenting is not important, it is important to acknowledge the people who follow you daily, even if they don't comment. Because what is a blog without them?
    Pola - whenever you are in Italy and want to come over for a slice, ti aspetto!
    Care's Kitchen - yes, we tend to go a little out of the way hehe
    Lindy - thank you
    Charissa - thank you for the wishes and for dropping by!
    My Fudo - it actually is much easier and quicker than it looks, I promise. That is what is so great about it.
    Lorraine - thank you, I hope there will be. The first time I saw this cake was on one of her shows and I fell in love with the bees of course.

  10. Congratulations, for some reason I thought you had been blogging for years :) you're a pro! I love this cake. I made it years ago and it's the cutest thing. Especially with kids, so I'll have to make it again with Roman. The bees are just too much.

  11. Yum! Happy Blog Anniversary to you!!!! Those bees look incredibly delicious and I love that you left the dramatic part and went straight to the recipe, haha!

  12. Happy blogoversary to you!
    Love the bees! Your daughter did a fabulous job! The cake looks wonderful. I have a leaky spring form too. I run foil around the bottom disk before snapping it into place and that seems to keep everything contained.

  13. Happy blogiversary! And what a beautiful cake to celebrate with - love those marzipan bees =)

  14. Well, congratulations and I have enjoyed following you for the past few months, which I hope will turn into years and who knows! This cake looks wonderful with the marzipan bees, I am a firm believer in honey and chocolate being a perfect pair!

  15. Nicole - thanks. I am sure Roman (and my son) will love making the bees when they are a little older.
    Jonha - Hi! Yeah, enough drama in life already. But the Martha Stewart reel, however, was fun. I couldn't resist it.
    Andrea - hey, that is a great idea. I lined the bottom but never thought of running it all the way through. Thanks
    Peggy - thank you!
    ToB - I agree about the chocolate and honey, they pair well and make you feel somewhat healthier. Thanks for following, glad you enjoy.

  16. Ma che meraviglia da leccarsi i baffi!! E le apine sono bellissime! da mangiare anche con gli occhi! baci Cla

  17. Happy belated blogaversary! It's been a year huh? What an accomplishment!
    I wish you many more years of sharing your beautiful food and thoughts with us!

    Your cake looks great. I made it myself last Easter and we loved it. It's nice to have those little hands helping you in the kitchen :)

  18. Happy blog anniversary! I made this cake as well, it looks so impressive you can't really believe how simple it is. I remember it was a very runny batter, but the final cake was quite moist. Maybe you needed all the water in it?

  19. so nice. i really like this post. please keep on posting!


Leave a suggestion, opinion or your own experience. I love hearing from you.