This honey cake boasts 9 layers of honey goodness. It’s a gorgeous showstopper that tastes just as good as it looks!
Our library reopened a few weeks ago! It had shut down again in the winter months due to cases rising in our area. Even though we were library regulars, we cut down on our online book borrowing since we couldn’t browse the shelves. I’m just not a good online browser and need to physically see a book before I decide to read it.
I was in the middle of reading I Am Malala and went to browse the new releases section while Addie went to explore the juvenile fiction area. I saw a cookbook titled Baking at the 20th Century Cafe and picked it up. It looked like it had a bunch of intriguing desserts and pastries so I checked it out.
As I read the introduction, I realized that the author got her start at a restaurant I had been to in my college days. In fact, she started as a dishwasher in the college town where I went to school. How neat is that? The photo on the book cover looked incredible, and it turns out that it was the honey cake that you are reading about now.
The author claims that the cake will “knock your socks off, and wash and fold them too.” If that’s not a glowing endorsement, then I don’t know what is! I made this cake for myself on Mother’s Day because I wanted to feel special.
One thing to note is that this cake needs to be refrigerated overnight before you slice and serve it. No cheating! You will be rewarded with an insanely delicious cake if you exert some patience. Trust me.
Although this cake was a labor of love, it was definitely worth the time I spent in the kitchen. I made the burnt honey on a Friday, and then I baked all 10 layers, made the frosting and assembled the cake on a Saturday. The cake was ready to eat on Sunday. You WILL have leftover frosting – I probably have at least another 4 cups of frosting hanging out in the fridge. But that will likely be used as a dip for fruit or a bonus accompaniment to a slice of cake.
Hope you all had a Happy Mother’s Day! (I meant to share this on Sunday but delayed it since we wanted to taste it and give it a rating)
Husband’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
My rating: 5 out of 5
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (200 millileters) wildflower or other mild honey
- 2 Tablespoons (30 millileters) water plus more as needed
- ⅔ cup (150 millileters) wildflower or other mild honey
- ¼ cup (50 millileters) burnt honey from above
- ¾ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (165 grams) granulated sugar
- 11 and ½ Tablespoons (168 grams) cold unsalted butter cubed
- 5 large eggs
- 1 and ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 and ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon (15 millileters) cold water
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
Honey magic frosting
- 1 recipe Dulce de Leche (recipe follows) or 1 14-ounce (396 grams) can stoere-bought dulce de leche
- ½ cup (118 millileters) burnt honey from above
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 cups (1.42 liters) heavy cream
Dulce de leche (if not using a pre-made can)
- 1 14-ounce (396 grams) can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Trace ten 9-inch circles on pieces of parchment paper. Flip the sheets over when you want to use them (since you don't want to eat marker/pencil/ink). Set aside.
Make the burnt honey
- In a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat, bring the honey to a simmer. It will foam, but let it keep cooking until it starts to turn colors. Use a spatula to keep stirring it.
- Once the honey starts to smoke, turn the heat to low and cook it for 30 more seconds. Take the saucepan off the stove and let it cool off for about a minute. Swirl the honey around in the saucepan while it's cooling.
- Put the pan down on a hot pad or other heat-proof surface and stream in the water. Stay back because the honey will sizzle like crazy. You don't want any burnt honey on your face or body! Once the honey starts to stop fizzling, stir it well and pour it into a heatproof measuring cup. Add enough water so that you end up with 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of liquid (that's 200 millileters). Set aside.
Make the cake
- In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, mix together the honey, burnt honey, sugar and butter.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside.
- Using a whisk, whisk the honey and butter mixture until the butter has fully melted and the mixture it hot (not to the point where it would burn you). Add all of the eggs in at once and continue whisking until the mixture is hot. Add the baking soda mixture. At this point, it will smell a little funky and look a bit foamy. No worries - this is what we expect.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, mix in the cold water and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
- Sift the flour over a fine-mesh sieve into the batter and mix well.
- Using a measuring cup, cookie scoop or even an ice cream scoop, scoop out about ⅓ cup (90 grams) of batter into the middle of each circle you traced earlier. Remember to put the batter on the non-inked side. Use an off-set spatula to spread the batter out into a complete and even circle. Repeat and make another circle.
- Transfer two of the batter circles to a sheet pan and bake in your preheated oven for 3 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 3 and ½ to 4 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. The cakes should be springy when gently touched. If needed, you can bake the cakes more but once you overbake them, you'll need to start over.
- Repeat with the remaining 8 layers of cake. Make sure you have plenty of counter space!
- If you have extra batter, make one final layer. Turn off the oven.
- Choose your least favorite cake layer and put it back in the (turned off) oven until it is reddish brown and toasty. Use a food processor, rolling pin or other method to turn this cake layer into fine crumbs. Set aside.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of a clean stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the dulce de leche, burnt honey and salt on medium speed until smooth.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add ¾ cup (178 millileters) of the cream until well blended. Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill.
- Clean the mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator to chill. Once it's cold, place the remaining 5 and ¼ cups (1.18 liters) of heavy cream in the bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until you achieve soft peaks.
- Add in the chilled honey mixture until you achieve soft peaks again. The frosting will appear smooth and glossy. Refrigerate this again before assembling the cake.
Assemble the cake
- Remember, this will be a very tall cake. If you place this on a cake stand, the cake dome may not cover it.
- Place 1 layer of your cake on a cardboard round or on a cake plate or cake stand. Top with 1 cup of frosting on top, making sure to go all the way to the edges. Repeat with the remaining 9 layers.
- Frost the top and sides of the stacked cake. Pick up the reserved cake crumbs and sprinkle them onto the top and sides of the cake.
- Refrigerate overnight (yes, really) before slicing and serving. Yes, that is mean, but it will be worth it.
Dulce de leche
- If you want to make your own dulce de leche, here is how you do it. Place an unopened 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a large saucepan. Cover it with water so it's completely submersed and has another 1-2 inches of water above it.
- Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat so it's at a bare simmer. Cook for 7-9 hours (yes, that long). Make sure the can is ALWAYS covered in water - you should check every 30 minutes or so. Another alternative is to try cooking this in a crock-pot (I've done this before, and the sticky adhesive from the label made an unbearable mess).