Honeycomb Layer Cake

I am a self-confessed cookbook collector. I love waiting for books I’ve ordered online and receiving them as gifts is a joy. One thing though – they must have pictures. Call me a child for my love of picture books but I struggle to envisage something I’ve never made before just from a list of instructions. After browsing through one of my cookbooks, Baked Explorations by Lewis and Poliafito, I had the urge to make an American-style layer cake. The many layers create a look of decadence and a simple decoration is literally the cherry on top! I find it hard to believe many people have three identical cake tins so I’ve suggested baking the cakes individually, or if you have two tins (like me) you can do two at the same time.

Honeycomb Layer Cake

Makes one 6-inch, 3-layer cake

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Ingredients

for the cakes

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 180g light brown soft sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 75g plain flour, sifted
  • 75ml milk
  • 6 tablespoons honey

for the honeycomb

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

for the buttercream frosting

  • 120g unsalted butter, softened
  • 60ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 480g icing sugar, sifted

Method

Make the cakes: preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan)/350°F/gas mark 4, grease a 6” round cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper. In a bowl, beat 50g butter with 60g sugar until pale and fluffy using an electric hand mixer. Add one egg and beat well. Combine 50g self-raising flour with 25g plain and add half to the bowl, beat until smooth. Pour in 25ml of milk and two tablespoons of honey, beat once again, followed by the second half of the flour mix, beat until smooth. Transfer to the prepared tin, level the surface with a rubber spatula and make a dip in the centre. Bake for 25 minutes until golden, risen and shrinking from the sides of the tin (and an inserted skewer comes out clean). Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat these steps to make two more cakes. Alternatively, if you have two tins, combine the remaining ingredients as above (adding the eggs one at a time) then divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 35 minutes.

Make the honeycomb: line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Heat the sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar melts and mixtures turns the colour of honey. Whisk in the bicarbonate of soda then pour the foaming mixture onto the lined baking
sheet. Set to one side until cool and set.

Make the buttercream frosting: beat the butter with the milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the remaining icing sugar, a heaped spoonful at a time, to produce a thick and creamy mixture.

Assemble the cake: break the edges of the honeycomb into about six shards, crush 30g of the remaining honeycomb and break the rest into small pieces, set all to one side. Level the tops of the cakes (if necessary) then place one on a cake board or serving dish. Mix the crushed honeycomb with a third of the buttercream and use to sandwich the three cake layers together. Spread the top and sides of the layered cake with a thin layer of the plain frosting (like buttering bread) to prevent crumbs appearing on the surface, then cover with a thicker layer, smoothing the sides and top. Use the small pieces of honeycomb to create a border at the base of the cake and decorate the top with the shards. Enjoy!

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