… and no, it’s NOT made with real honey bees …

So, Thursday was the last of my beekeeping theory classes – it was an interesting 12 weeks of learning about their lifespan, the different roles in the hive, her majesty the Queen, the different parasites and diseases you need to watch out for and, of course, how honey is made and harvested.  I’ve met some fantastic people – all of which seem to be as nervous and excited about having their own hives as I am!  I’ll see them again when I take the practical class in the spring – and, yes, at that time, I’ll be posting loads of pics of our hives so you can track their progress as the hive grows towards the summer.

In the meantime, I decided that the best way to celebrate the last class was to make Nigella Lawson’s HoneyBee cake – it’s a gorgeous and decadently rich chocolate cake made with honey both in the cake and in the chocolate glaze.  I recommend making the cake the day before you plan to serve it to give the glaze time to set – otherwise, it’s a bit of a runny mess.

Nigella’s HoneyBee Cake

  • cake:
  •  8 oz butter, softened
  • 4 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa), melted and cooled
  • 1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa, sifted
  • 1 cup boiling water


  • glaze:
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a 9″ springform pan (don’t be tempted to use an 8″ instead – it screws up how the cake rises – take it from one who knows).

In a mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy and light, then add the honey and mix well.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between – if the batter starts to separate, add a teaspoon of your flour.  Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and fold in the melted chocolate until smooth.  Sift the flour, baking soda and cocoa together, then pour into the batter and gently mix just until the flour disappears.  Finally, add the boiling water and stir to incorporate.  Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean – the let the cake cool completely before glazing. 

To make the glaze, mix the water and honey in a saucepan, then bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring well as it melts.  Sift in the icing sugar and whisk to make sure it doesn’t form lumps.  Let it cool and thicken before slowly glazing the cake.

To make your life easier and less messy, cut 4 strips of wax paper or parchment paper and slip under the edges of the cake, so as you glaze, the excess will drip onto the paper not on the plate.  After the glaze sets, you can remove the paper and the serving plate will remain clean.

To make the honeybees that decorate the top, you need marzipan, sliced almonds and a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate glaze.  Take about a teaspoon of the marzipan and roll it into the shape of a rugby ball, then use the almonds to make the wings.  For a quick and easy piping bag, fold a piece of parchment paper into a square, then into a cone – open it up and pour in a couple of tablespoons of glaze.  Snip a tiny bit off the end and press out the glaze, testing to see what size of a line you can make.  Once you’re happy that it works, paint lines across the bodies of your bees and 2 eyes on its face, then let set for an hour or so before you set on the cake (otherwise, you’ll smear the lines).  Confession time:  when I made the bees, I made the anatomically correct with a thorax and head because I am, indeed, that much of a dork.  Don’t complicate your life – make the body in one piece.

the sugar and caffeine will get you buzzing ... gettit? buzzing? I kill me