My friend Paul brought over a jar of honey from his own hive, that's right, I have a friend that's a bee keeper and his honey is the best honey in the northeast area and I am not just saying that to keep getting free honey from him.....really.
I wanted to find a cake that incorporated this "heavenly honey" in a recipe. I originally tried making Basbousa because I had some semolina flour I wanted to use up and the results of this dessert was a disaster. I was not sure if it was the recipe or the dessert that I didn't like, but it was back to the internet and this time I thought why not look for chocolate and honey, so I came upon this recipe for Honey Bee Cake by Nigella Lawson, the english goddess who's known as the "queen of food porn"......I soooooo would have loved that title, but she is very deserving of it. If you've ever seen Nigella Feasts, you know what I am talking about. The few times I have seen her show, there was alot of moaning and finger licking. She could have been making stir fried rocks and I would have wanted the recipe.
I did enjoy making this cake and I think the primary reason, aside from it's ease, was making the little bee's. I loved rolling them up and painting them. I felt like I was making jewelry. I did rush to get the bees on the cake and to take the pictures before my cake was carted away, so I ended up placing the bees on the glaze before the glaze had settled and my bees started slowly drowning and there was nothing I could do to save them. I knew after the first bee went, that the others would follow suit. It was like they were in quicksand, so wait about an hour while the cake is being refridgerated before you add the bees to the cake and I won't get into the pictures...ugh!
Just a note, when I finished with the batter it looked like it needed more flour. It did not have the consistency of regular batter, so don't be alarmed. It's definitely a loose batter.
There is also a suggestion to cover the cake with aluminum foil if you find it is browning before the cake is done. I did this after an hour of baking, just because I did not want it to get to the point that it was browning at all and it looked like the cake was setting nicely. The baking time says 1 1/2 hour, but my cake was done in 70 minutes, so watch your time. Ovens vary. My other trick is to take the cake out of the oven and immediately covered it with Aluminum foil and let it cool over night, this seals in moisture.
Honey Bee Cake
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/3 cups soft light brown sugar
2 sticks soft butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 cup boiling water
Sticky Honey Glaze:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 ounce yellow marzipan
12 flaked almonds
Special equipment: 9-inch spring form tin
Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come to room temperature, and while that's happening, melt the chocolate from the cake part of the ingredients list in a good-sized bowl, either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter and line a 9-inch spring form tin.
Beat together the sugar and soft butter until airy and creamy, and then add the honey.
Add 1 of the eggs, beating it in with a tablespoon of the flour, and then the other egg with another tablespoon of flour. Fold in the melted chocolate, and then the rest of the flour and baking soda. Add the cocoa pushed through a strainer to ensure you have no lumps, and last of all, beat in the boiling water. Mix everything well to make a smooth batter and pour into the prepared tin. Cook for up to 1 1/2 hours, though check the cake after 45 minutes and if it is getting too dark, cover the top lightly with aluminium foil and keep checking every 15 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely in the tin on a rack. (I covered mine with aluminum foil and let it cool overnight)
To make the glaze, bring the water and honey to a boil in a saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate, swirling it around to melt in the hot liquid. Leave it for a few minutes, then whisk together. Add the sugar through a sieve and whisk again until smooth.
Choose your plate or stand, and cut out 4 strips of baking paper and form a square outline on the plate. This is so that when you sit the cake on and ice it, the icing will not run out all over the plate. Unclasp the tin and set the thoroughly cooled cake on the prepared plate. Pour the glaze over the cold honey bee cake letting it drip over edges. The glaze is fairly easy to work with and I just used the back of a spoon to creating a circular motion to get the glaze to run down the sides of the cake.
Divide the marzipan into 6 even pieces and shape them into fat, sausage-like bees' bodies, slightly tapered at the ends.
Using a toothpick to paint stripes with the sticky honey glaze left in the pan from icing the cake. About 3 stripes look best, and then very carefully attach the flaked almonds at an angle to make the bees' wings, 2 on each one. They might snap as you dig them into the marzipan bodies.
If you would prefer a more sophisticated looking cake, leave the bees off!