Few treats could be more appropriate for an outdoor party on a summer afternoon than a honey cake in the shape of a beehive. Plump black-and-yellow marzipan bees are pressed onto the cake to add the final touch of charm.
Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2008
For the Cake
3 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour, plus more for mold
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for mold
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Honey Glaze
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
2 2/3 ounces (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Sugar Glaze
1/4 cup water
1 3/4 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of a beehive mold with butter, making sure to cover all areas. Dust mold with flour, tap out excess, and freeze until ready to use.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and a pinch of cloves. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed; drizzle in honey. Beat on high until very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Transfer batter to a large bowl.
Whisk egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into cake batter, then fold in the remaining whites.
Divide batter between molds, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Cover with foil, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more (a tester inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean). Transfer molds to a wire rack, and let cakes cool in pans for 15 to 20 minutes.
Turn out cakes, supporting them with your hand, and place flat sides on rack. Let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day).
Carefully trim the flat sides of the cake halves with a serrated knife so each is level. Align the halves to make sure they are flush, then separate.
Bring honey, brown sugar, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add vanilla, and remove from heat. Let cool for 1 minute.
Brush a coat of honey glaze on the flat side of each cake half. Gently press halves together, and let set upright for 5 minutes. (If they don't stay together, place a small bowl over top to hold the 2 sides together while glaze sets.) Carefully transfer beehive to a rack set over parchment. Spoon remaining warm honey glaze over cake until the cake is completely covered. Let stand until set.
Bring water to a boil. Add 1 3/4 cups sugar, and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat; let cool for 3 minutes. Spoon some glaze over cake. (If too runny, add more sugar until glaze is the consistency of thick honey.) Pour 1/2 of the glaze over cake, letting it drizzle down the sides. Let set for 5 minutes, then spoon remaining glaze on top. Arrange marzipan bees on cake, pressing gently to adhere to glaze. Serve immediately.
This recipe accommodates a 9- to 11-cup beehive mold (available at nordicware.com), which comes split in two parts; a honey glaze glues the two halves together. Both glazes for this cake need to be made right before assembly. If they become too firm, rewarm gently over low heat.