Aaaand I’ve reached 4000 views on my little blog! I can’t quite articulate how happy/jubilant/gleeful/giddy that makes me feel, so instead I baked this celebration cake to send you all my love in the form of a four layered chocolate cake with velvety honeycomb buttercream, drizzled generously with dark chocolate ganache and a pile of smashed homemade honeycomb. Does this give you a better idea of how grateful I am? I actually went a bit over the top on the swiss meringue buttercream, those responsible for demolishing it did so with a bit of a groan…i.e. probably only pile on half as much buttercream as I did. But oh well, as far as life difficulties go, too much honeycomb buttercream isn’t really that horrendous.
I want to say a quick thank you to everyone who has viewed, shared, liked, commented on and baked from the blog. I get such a buzz every time I’m sent a photo of a recreation of one of my recipes, or when a stranger or friend says they’ve had a glance through the posts and photos. It’s what keeps me creating! I even splashed out and bought myself a new camera, and this recipe is its debut. I’m becoming that person that saves their money for cameras, photoshop software, flour, chocolate and cake boards. But that’s ok with me!
PS making honeycomb is ridiculously fun, it’s science at its best and most delicious. Definitely give it a go, you’ll feel like a bit of a mad genius. I couldn’t quite bring myself to cull anymore of the 142 photos I originally took, so enjoy having a scroll through until you reach the recipe…and have fun!
Honeycomb and Chocolate Four Layer Celebration Cake
Preparation Time: 3-4 hours
Total Time: 3-4 hours, plus an additional 1 hour at room temperature prior to serving
Chocolate Cake, adapted from this Donna Hay recipe
- 375 mL water
- 185 g unsalted butter, cubed
- 80 g cocoa powder
- 450 g plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 600 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 185 mL buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Honeycomb, found on Taste
- 170 g white sugar
- 65 mL honey
- 1 tablespoons golden syrup
- 40 mL water
- 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
Honeycomb Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 7 large, fresh egg whites (210 g)
- 350 g white sugar
- 475 g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and cool, but not cold (leave out of fridge for 15-20 minutes before use)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- half quantity of honeycomb (recipe below), food processed to a fine powder and stored immediately in an airtight container
Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
- 175 g dark chocolate
- 115 g unsalted butter, cubed
*Baking time amended on 2nd January 2016*
- Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F fan-forced. Grease and line two 18 cm/7 inch cake tins.
- Combine the water, butter and cocoa in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and stir gently until the butter has just melted.
- Sift the flour, baking soda and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the cocoa mixture, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla, and whisk until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth. Do not over-whisk, only until the dry ingredients are just incorporated into the wet.
- Pour the mixture evenly into the two tins. Bang the tins a couple of times on the counter. Bake the cakes on a central rack for 45-50 minutes, rotating them after 30 minutes to ensure even baking. The cakes are cooked when a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean but moist, with a few crumbs but no wet batter.
- Allow the cakes to cool in their tins on a metal rack for 20 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice off the domed tops, and halve the cakes to form 4 layers.
Honeycomb (must act like a ninja for this stage, so don’t get distracted)
- Grease and line a 20 x 30 cm slice tin/shallow tray. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, honey, golden syrup and water constantly for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Use a pastry brush dipped in water or a wet spatula to frequently brush any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan into the syrup.
- Increase the heat to high, and bring the syrup to the boil. Leave boiling, without stirring, for 5-7 minutes until the syrup is a dark golden colour and reaches crack stage (or 154°C/309°F on a candy thermometer, which is a great investment).
- Now is the time to be focused and act quickly! Remove the pan from the heat, and leave it to sit for a few minutes until the bubbles subside. Throw in the bicarb soda, and use a spatula to rapidly stir it into the syrup. The mixture will foam and bubble. Quickly pour it into the lined tray, and smooth roughly with the spatula.
- Leave to cool completely for about 45 minutes. As soon as the honeycomb is cool to touch, use the handle of a large knife to smash it into pieces. Place half of the honeycomb in a food processor, and blitz to a fine powder. Immediately store the two lots of honeycomb in separate airtight containers. Leaving the honeycomb exposed to the air will cause it to go sticky very quickly, so don’t waste time!
Honeycomb Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache
- In a large heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, gently hand-whisk the egg whites and sugar until sugar has just dissolved and mixture appears white (5-10 minutes). Alternatively, use a candy thermometer to whisk until temperature of mixture reaches 70°C/160°F. Ensure you whisk gently but constantly, so that egg whites do not cook.
- Transfer mixture to the large bowl of an electric mixer, and whisk on medium/low speed until meringue is thick and glossy and holds its peaks, and the bowl feels neutral to touch. It is very important that you whisk until the bowl no longer feels warm, otherwise the butter will melt when added. Whisk for 10-15 minutes, and if the bowl is still warm, turn mixer off and allow meringue to cool further. This will ensure you do not over-whisk meringue. Double check the temperature of the meringue by turning off the mixer, and dipping a clean finger into the centre of the meringue. It should feel room temperature.
- Once cooled, swap whisk attachment for paddle attachment. With the mixer on its lowest possible speed, gradually add butter one cube at a time, beating for a few seconds between each addition. The buttercream will suddenly loosen and may appear thin or scrambled as you go, but just keep beating on low speed until all of the butter is incorporated.
- Once all of the butter is added to the buttercream, continue beating on a low speed for a minute or two. The buttercream should be thick and glossy. If it is too thin, the butter was too soft when added, so refrigerate buttercream for 15 minutes to firm up and then continue beating. If it appears too thick or scrambled (literally like scrambled eggs!) the butter was too cold when added, so keep beating on low speed until buttercream is smooth. Add the salt and vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. Then add the honeycomb powder, straight from its airtight container, and beat to combine. The honeycomb may crystallise a little as it hits the buttercream, this is fine.
- Dollop a spoonful of buttercream on your cake board or serving plate, and secure the first cake layer upside down. Dollop 2/3 cup of buttercream onto the first layer, then spread evenly right up to 1 cm from the edge using a butterknife or small offset spatula. Place the second cake layer down, pressing gently from the centre outwards to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat the layering process with the buttercream and remaining cake layers.
- Using a little of the buttercream, frost a crumb coat over the entire cake. This is a very thin coat, and you should be able to see the cake through the buttercream. It forms a seal around the cake so you don’t get crumbs in your pretty frosting! Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes, until buttercream is firm to touch.
- Frost the outside of the cake by dolloping the remaining buttercream on the top surface, spreading it out until it falls over the sides of the cake, and then spreading it evenly around the sides.
- Refrigerate cake for at least 30 minutes until buttercream is firm to touch. Meanwhile, place the chocolate and butter in a small heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, and stir until nearly melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until completely melted. Cover and set aside for 25-30 minutes until lukewarm.
- Use a clean metal spatula, butterknife or benchscraper to smooth the surfaces of the cake. Pour the cooled ganache over the centre of the cake, and use a butter knife or small offset spatula to gently spread it over the surface, almost to the edges, until it starts to spill over. Remove the smashed half of the honeycomb from the airtight container, and sprinkle generously over the ganache before it sets.
Make sure the cake has been out of the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving, to ensure the cake and buttercream are soft and at room temperature.
Store the cake covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days, but best served within 1-2 days of baking.
Note: The cakes can be made up to 2 days in advance, and stored in an airtight container. Make the honeycomb on the day of serving, as it loses its crispness quickly. Swiss meringue buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week, or frozen for up to 6-8 weeks, prior to the addition of the honeycomb. Before using it to frost your cake, allow it to cool to room temperature, then beat on medium speed using an electric mixture until it retains its silky, soft consistency. This can take up to 20 minutes, so be patient if the texture looks a little strange. Beat in the honeycomb. For ease, if possible prepare the SMB immediately before you frost your cake.