University. A time for flying the nest, making new friends and twizzling your fake moustache in a scholarly manner, and of course, a time for new beginnings.
Living in the heart of London feels like an especially significant new beginning; especially after spending the summer hiking to forgotten Alpen peaks and picking blackberries in dewy fields. Now I’m faced with a sweating mass of human flesh being pummelled into a claustrophobic tube every morning. Nice. Apart from the horrific rush hour though, London is great.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life….” Samuel Johnson obviously knew what he was talking about. To be tired of London means to be tired of the bright lights of the West End (literally on my doorstep I might add); the buzz of Borough Market; the cultural offerings of the National Gallery or the drunken delights of a 3am night bus, I can tell you, nobody could tire of that.
In terms of food as well, this city has it all. From China-town to the Chocolate Society at UCL, there’s every type of gastronomic delight to satisfy a foodie’s appetite. (Especially in the dim sum department…)
I can’t say the same however for my kitchen. I started with a frozen pizza for the first night, ‘this is okay’ I thought, ‘first day…settling in…I’ll be back into cooking obsession mode within no time’. Second night: leftover pizza, third night: pasta with a Dolmio sauce, fourth night: pasta with leftover Dolmio sauce AND some garlic bread…you can see where I’m going with this. Basically, I’ve been slacking. Terribly. Tonight I made a vegetarian chilli though so things are obviously improving. Don’t worry, we’ll be back with the homemade, mildly spiced North Indian curries by next week.
Now let’s rewind, to before the eternal Fresher’s nights and the onslaught of Dolmio pasta, to the day before I left for uni: in other words, my Mum’s birthday. Of course I made her a cake, but not just any cake…one with three different purposes. Despite being primarily for her birthday it also acted as an entry for the first anniversary special of the We Should Cocoa challenge (a bit late now though!) and secondly it acted as a ‘New Beginnings’ cake. A honeycomb-bejeweled-chocolate-fondant-covered masterpiece to mark my sister and I leaving home and embarking on uni. And you know what? It fits the grand occasion perfectly.
Chocolate Honeycomb Cake
– 4 eggs ( the weight of the rest of the ingredients will be dependent on the weight of the eggs)
– Unsalted butter
– Self-raising flour (the same weight as the eggs minus 2 tbsp)
– Caster sugar
-2 tbsp cocoa powder
– 1tsp baking powder
For the buttercream
– 100g butter
– 100g icing sugar
– 2tbsp cocoa powder
For the chocolate ganache
– 200g plain chocolate
– 200ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/fan oven 160˚C
2. Line two 20cm sandwich tins
3. Weigh the eggs in their shells – this will determine the weight for the butter, sugar and flour (it will probably be about 270g)
4. Whatever the weight of the eggs, weigh out the same for the butter, sugar and flour
5. Beat the butter and sugar very well – in fact, go a bit crazy, it’ll make for a lighter cake.
6. Beat the eggs in one at a time
7. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, BUT WAIT A MOMENT! First take out two tablespoons of flour as you’ll be effectively replacing this when you add your two tbsps of cocoa powder
8. If the batter is too thick to drop off of a spoon, add a few drops of milk until it has a ‘dropping consistency’.
9. Spoon the batter into the tins and smooth with a knive
10. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes
For the buttercream
1. beat together softened butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar and when cake is completely cooled sandwich it in between the two sponges
For the ganache
1. Heat the cream until its just starting to bubble a little
2. Add to broken pieces of chocolate and stir until it’s completely melted
3. Pour on top of cake and allow to drip down the edges, to neaten things up smooth it out with a knife.
Before serving sprinkle with a couple of smashed crunchie bars (chocolate scraped off) I used toffee honeycomb (you know the type you get in big bags at the fairground?!) but it rather rapidly melted into the ganache, although I think you might have more luck with Crunchie bars.
Now enjoy your chocolate creation!