Honeycomb Layer Cake

 

For Mother’s Day this year, Mom had a special request: A cake she recently tasted at a friend’s birthday party, which they special ordered from a bakery in the Bay Area. I’d never thought to put the combination together, but I make all the components regularly:

press_honeycomb_around_sides

Yellow cake, filled and topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, and the key ingredient: Honeycomb candy.

I make honeycomb (also known as seafoam, angel food, sponge candy, and hundreds of other names), every year for part of my Dad’s Christmas present. It’s essentially a hard caramel that has a little bit of baking soda whisked in at the end, so that it foams up and hardens into a spongy, crunchy, almost-too-sweet candy.

break_into_pieces

Honeycomb is simple, in the sense that it has only 4 ingredients and a few steps, but it’s easy to screw up. A little extra humidity or barometric pressure, a bit too much stirring, and you’ve just wasted a bunch of sugar. Recipes like this cake are a good way to use honeycomb that’s a little too dense, since you’re crushing it anyway. Good thing, since I was prepping the cake in the middle of the night and wasn’t about to make another batch. Sorry, Mom.

275F

I’m still trying to find the perfect recipe that doesn’t involve corn syrup, but unfortunately it seems to produce the most consistent results. I once made a perfect batch using honey instead, but all my other attempts burned — maybe I’ll revisit that again someday in another post.

I did a quick search for “honeycomb cake” and found a few similar recipes — some that used buttercream frosting, and one that included a hefty dose of ground up candy in the cake batter, too. I suspected those would be too complicated and way, WAY too rich based on my experience with the stuff. I think I was right.

whipped_cream_frosting

 

I used my go-to yellow cake recipe, minus a little of the sugar, and just barely sweetened the whipped cream. The honeycomb melts into every bite, providing a bit of crunch and a big hit of sweetness.

whip_cream_with_powdered_sugar

I’m normally not a big fan of whipped cream as a cake topping, but it was a perfect foil for the honeycomb. Anything more and it would have been overpowering. I’m already plotting a chocolate ganache version.

But for now, I think you’ll find this recipe more than adequate.

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frost_with_whipped_cream

top_with_honeycomb

 

Honeycomb Layer Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 8-10 servings

Honeycomb Layer Cake

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 2 cups cake flour (or substitute 2 tbsp corn starch per cup of AP flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, left at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • For the topping:
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 batch Honeycomb Candy (recipe follows), about 6.5 ounces.
  • Special Equipment:
  • 2 9-inch round cake pans
  • stand mixer (a hand mixer will do)
  • offset spatula

Instructions

  1. Put a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350F. Butter and flour cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, you may need to scrape the bottom of a bowl with a spatula to make sure it's all incorporated.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and beat until thoroughly blended, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk, and the rest of the flour. Mix until batter is just smooth.
  6. Divide evenly into baking pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pans and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a baking rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert cake onto racks to cool completely. Cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored on the counter overnight.
  7. Make the whipped cream topping:
  8. Pour cream into a large metal bowl and whip at medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks.
  9. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top and beat until combined.
  10. Assemble the cake:
  11. Place one of the cake layers in the center of the plate and spread about 1/4 cup of whipped cream across the top using an offset spatula.
  12. Place about half of the honeycomb in a large ziplock bag and use a rolling pin or other blunt object to break it up.
  13. Sprinkle smaller pieces of honeycomb evenly across the first layer, then top with the other cake layer.
  14. Cover top and sides with whipped cream, then cover with honeycomb pieces.
  15. Leftover pieces of honeycomb can be dipped in dark chocolate, mixed with butter and eaten on pancakes, or enjoyed as they are.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/honeycomb-layer-cake/

Honeycomb Candy

Honeycomb Candy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup glucose syrup or corn syrup
  • dash sea salt
  • 4 tsp sifted baking soda
  • dark chocolate for dipping (optional)
  • Special Equipment:
  • candy thermometer
  • parchment paper
  • baking sheet

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, glucose or corn syrup, and sea salt in a 3-quart heavy saucepan.
  2. Stir over medium heat until combined, then insert candy thermometer and do not stir.
  3. When sugar mixture reaches 275F (300 at sea level) remove from heat and take out thermometer. Sprinkle sifted baking soda across the top and quickly but thoroughly whisk it in -- the syrup will expand rapidly and you want to pour it out before it stops bubbling.
  4. Quickly pour the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Note: You can use a heatproof spatula to get the last out of the pan, but don't drop it on top of the stuff you've already poured out or it'll collapse (take it from me.)
  5. When the candy is completely cooled and hardened, break it up and store in an airtight container. I recommend dipping it in dark chocolate if you're planning to keep it around more than a couple days.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/honeycomb-layer-cake/

 

3 Thoughts on “Honeycomb Layer Cake

  1. Josanne on May 25, 2013 at said:

    Thanks for the recipe! It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and I’ll be honest, I don’t think Gpa got to taste *his* piece. 😉

    • admin on May 25, 2013 at said:

      Josanne- I had to make another batch of the candy to get photos, so I’m planning to unload a cake’s worth of it on you later this afternoon. Just FYI. 🙂

  2. Emma Lee on September 8, 2014 at said:

    I really wanted to try this recipe and when I did, unfortunately my cakes didn’t rise. I ended up with 2 flat cakes 2cm high. Not sure what happened, the cake batter was really thick and there wasn’t much of it to separate into 2 tins. Maybe it was the conversion to metric measures. I find that recipes that specify ingredient weights give much more consistent results.

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