Last week marked FOUR YEARS since Judson and I got married, and seven years since we met, which, probably, makes it a lucky anniversary. We’re celebrating in Tenerife, and hopefully right now I am lying on a beach, drinking something out of a coconut and debating whether my next activity should be to take a nap or go for a swim.
But, prior to leaving Edinburgh, of course I had to make a cake to celebrate, and since we’ve moved on from cheesecakes to chocolate cakes, here’s your monthly chocolate cake recipe: a honey cake for your honey.
Here’s the thing, though: This cake is a pain. Almost every ingredient in it requires some kind of prep before you mix it into the cake: the butter has to be softened, the eggs separated and whipped, if you live in a place where you can’t find buttermilk or cake flour, then lemon juice has to be added to your milk, and cornstarch has to be added to your flour, milk has to be scalded, chocolate melted, pans lined, and the list goes on..
But oh man, is it worth it. The last few chocolate cakes that I have made have been airy or fudgey, but I’ve never made one as velvety as this one. And since the cake was taking so long, I enlisted Judson’s help to make the frosting (a job I hate, though I love frosting, and a job Judson loves, although he hates frosting) and I’ll be damned if he didn’t make the tastiest homemade frosting I’ve ever had. It was perfectly smooth and creamy with the richest cocoa flavour I’ve ever encountered in a frosting.
(I have no idea what kind of frosting is supposed to be on this cake-- the recipe just says 'confectioner's sugar frosting,' and since I couldn't bare to leave such a perfectly moist cake frosting-free, I opted for a simple, deeply chocolate 'cocoa icing,' that blended up smoother than any frosting I've made in awhile.)
So I guess this cake is a good metaphor for being married, even beyond the perfectly pun-able name: in the end, you’ve got a delicious cake, but only after putting a lot of work into it, and even then, there might be moments when you're sure it's all a disaster before it all comes together in the end (like when I tasted the frosting halfway through the process and it had the consistency of dried cement and tasted so bitter I could barely swallow it).
5 spoons out of five. This cake has a rich and velvety texture from the honey without being cloyingly sweet, and the frosting actually tastes like chocolate-- not just like powdered sugar. It's rich and decadent, and the perfect triumph after all the work you'll have to put in to actually make it.
One year ago: Fancy tomato soup (and an embarrassing story)
Honey Chocolate Cake
Note that this recipe requires everything to be done in a certain order, so I've tried to put things below in the order you should do them to avoid the mad scramble I had halfway through. Follow everything below to the letter and you'll have an easier time than I did!
Remove butter from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare everything else.|
Line 2 round cake pans with parchment on the bottom.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
If making your own buttermilk, add lemon juice to milk as above and set aside.
If making your own cake flour, sift together the cornstarch and flour as above.
Sift baking powder, salt, and baking soda into the cake flour and set aside.
Melt the chocolate and set aside.
Separate the eggs, set the yolks aside, and beat the whites until stiff but not dry.
Add ¼ c sugar to the egg whites, then beat again until very stiff and glossy.
Set beaten whites aside.
By this time, your butter should be close to room temperature so you can proceed with the recipe.
Cream butter, remaining ½ c sugar, and vanilla.
Add yolks and beat well.
Add chocolate (now melted but cool) and blend.
Gradually beat in honey.
Scald the milk on the stove or in the microwave.
Meanwhile, add sifted flour mixture and buttermilk to chocolate mixture, then beat until smooth.
Fold egg whites gently into batter, then stir in the scalded milk until mixture is of uniform consistency.
Pour into prepared cake pans and bake 20-30 minutes until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely, then frost.
Blend melted shortening, salt, and cocoa.
Add milk and vanilla and beat well (mixture will be dark and grainy).
Add powdered sugar in 3 parts, blending after each.
If mixture is too thick, add a few drops of milk and cream until silky smooth.
Frost the cake and enjoy!
¼ cup butter, softened to room temperature
¾ c sugar, divided
½ tsp vanilla
2 eggs, separated
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
½ c honey\
2 c cake flour, sifted (make your own cake flour by placing 2 tbsp cornstarch into your measuring cup then filling with flour, for a total of 4 tbsp cornstarch for 2 cups of flour)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ c buttermilk (make your own by placing 1 ½ tsp lemon juice into your ½ cup measuring cup, then filling with milk and leaving stand 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened)
½ c milk, scalded (heat milk until tiny bubbles appear around the outer rim but milk does not boil)
¼ c shortening or Stork, melted
¼ tsp salt
½ c cocoa
1/3 c milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 ½ c powdered sugar, sifted & divided