You’ve got to pretend you’re Austin Powers when you pronounce the name of this cake. First made for my Mum’s birthday, my “Oh Beehive! Celebration Cake” is a rich, sticky ginger cake which I simply decorate with an orange and honey butter cream. The bees are made with some yellow and black fondant with some almond slithers as the wings. It’s easier than it looks!
About 12 months ago, I decided to take up pottery to learn a new skill. I found a small class in Bensham and signed up for the Friday morning session.
Before class started, we had to set ourselves an objective for the term. I decided I wanted to make a honey jar in the style of the ones Winnie the Pooh would have plunged a paw into before going to raid a beehive. I thought this would be easy; how wrong I was!
I never made it onto the potter’s wheel and my coiled honey beehive pot regularly collapsed before I abandoned all hope. But while clay might have failed me, cake, icing and fondant succeeded.
I first made this cake for a January dinner party desert but perfected the decoration for my Mum’s November Birthday. The décor is inspired by Martha Kearney – the Radio 4 presenter – who did a similar decoration on a Celebrity Version of the Great British Bake Off. My piping skills are basic – at best – so while the buttercream is applied in rings around the cake, I smoothed it off and created the grooves with the aid of a butter knife.
No specialist equipment is required for this cake. Just 18cm and 15cm round cake tins and a small 15cm glass Pyrex bowl or pudding basin.
Note – Mixed Spices helps to amplify the gingery-ness of this ginger cake – although I tend to use some of my Pumpkin Spice Mix here.Print
For the cakes
- 165g Unsalted Butter
- 225g Dark Muscavado Sugar
- 50g Black Treacle
- 250g Golden Syrup
- 100g Ginger Jam
- 330ml Natural Yoghurt
- 3 eggs
- 270g Self Raising Flour
- 65g Cornflour
- 2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 2tbsp Ground Ginger
- 2tsp Mixed Spices (or Pumpkin Spice Mix)
- 900g Icing Sugar
- 600g Unsalted Butter
- 1.5tbsp runny honey
- 1 orange (zest and juice)
- 10–15g Yellow Food Colouring (gel not liquid)
- 100g Yellow Fondant Icing
- 50g Black Fondant Icing
- Handful of Blanched Almond Flakes
- Cocktail Sticks
- A little water
- Preheat your oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3.
- Grease and line a 15cm and 18cm spring loaded cake tin. Grease and flour a 15cm glass Pyrex bowl, tapping to remove excess flou. Use a tea cup to draw a circle of grease proof paper to lightly grease and fit in the top of the Pyrex Bowl.
- Place the butter, muscovado sugar, treacle, golden syrup and ginger jam into a medium sized pan and melt together over a medium heat. You want everything to meld together without bringing to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly
- Meanwhile, sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and spices together in a large bowl.
- Whisk the yoghurt and gggs together into a jug.
- Stir the syrup mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Finally, stir through the yoghurt/egg mix and bring together.
- Pour the mix between the two cake tins and the Pyrex bowl. I half-filled my cake tins before pouring into the Pyrex bowl which filled 2/3 of the way.
- Place the cake mix into the oven and set the time for 30-45 mins. I found that the smaller cake tin was ready after 30 mins, the Pyrex bowl after 35mins and the larger cake after 40-45mins. To check, insert a skewer which should come out clean.
- Once removed from the oven, leave to cool for around 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack and allowing to cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a freestanding mixer until it is light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until all incorporated. Finally, add the yellow gel colouring, orange zest, half the juice of the orange and the three tablespoons of honey. Continue to beat the buttercream on a high setting for around 8-10 minutes (the icing should be light and fluffy.
- To assemble the cake, cut each section into two even halves so that you have six layers. Trim the tops of the cakes so that they are even and will sit reasonably straight. Splodge a desert spoon of buttercream on a large plate and smooth out in order to stick the base layer from the 18cm cake to it. Spoon three heaped table spoons of buttercream on top and smooth out with a pallet knife before adding the top.
- Continue to build up your layers in this way, placing the round 15cm cake in the centre of the 18cm cak before finishing with the dome from the Pyrex bowl cake – alternating layers of cake with buttercream. Once assembled, trim around the bottom base cake with a bread knife to create a gently dome shape. Don’t worry about the cake looking messy after this – your butter cream outer layer will mask a multitude of sins!
- Spread a very thin layer of butter cream all over the cake to form a crumb layer. This thin layer of icing will help prevent crumbs from the cake messing up the outer finish of the cake. Once covered, place in the fridge for around 30 minutes to allow the icing to firm up and hold its shape.
- Once firm, remove from the fridge and place the plate on a turning wheel or lazy Susan. Half fill a piping bag, fitted with a large circular nozzle. Asking a friend to rotate the cake at a roughly even speed, pipe rings of buttercream up the whole of the cake. When you reach the top of the dome, finish with a continuous spiral to the top.
- If your piping is good, you may like the way the cake looks at this point. My piping, however, is not good so my cake required a bit more attention. Using the curved end of a butter knife, or the tip of a wooden spoon handle, smooth along the lines in between the icing rings to form a recognisable beehive groove. Crape any icing that comes away back into a bowl. Continue to work up the cake until you are happy with the shape. Return the cake to the fridge to firm up some more while you prepare your bees.
- Cut your block of yellow icing into almond-sized pieces. Dust your hands with a little cornflour and roll to form the body of your bees.
- Roll slivers of black icing into long thin worms and stick to the bee bodies to form the stripes. I found it easier to moisten my little finger with a little water from a saucer before gently dabbing the black strips to help it adhere to the bee body.
- Finally, insert an almond flake on each side of the body to form the bee’s wings.
- To decorate the cake, place some bees directly onto the cake, using the grooves of the hive to support them. Use a cocktail stick inserted into the cake to place some of the bees as if they are in flight.
- Serve at room temperature.
- Prep Time: 1 Hour
- Cook Time: 30-45 Minutes
- Category: Celebration, Birthday, Cakes
Keywords: Beehive, Celebration Cake, Birthday Cake, Bees, Honey, Ginger Cake, Orange and Honey Butter Cream