Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Earl Grey Sponge with Lemon Curd and Earl Grey Honeycomb

I love honeycomb. It reminds me of fairs and jamborees as a child where those sweet sellers would come in their vans and  flog candy floss and fudge and other jaw-cementing goodies. I always got a bag of honeycomb. There was something... mysterious about it, alien almost. To me it looked like a piece of the moon, hard and brittle but in oddly deformed chunks with those signature bubbles running through it like the stream of the galaxy. It's a little less enigmatic when you make it yourself but it is so much fun having it fizz and foam when you add the bicarbonate. I added earl grey tea for a more adult flavour and used it here to add some gold colour to this birthday cake, you could leave it in big chunks and eat as is. Probably best not to mention it to your dentist next appointment though! 

For the Sponge 
220g unsalted butter softened 
220g caster sugar 
220g plain flour 
1 generous tsp baking powder 
3 eggs 
225ml milk 
8 earl grey tea bags 

1. Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan. Throw in the teabags, slosh around a bit and leave to soak for half an hour off the heat. 
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until very pale- about 5 minutes. 
3. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a dry bowl. 
4. Break up the eggs with a fork in a cup. Add the egg one quarter at a time with a big heaped spoon of flour until all the egg is gone. Beat well after each addition. 
5. Squeez out the teabags and throw away. Fold in the remaining flour with a good slosh of milk and fold gently after each addition until all the milk and flour are gone. The mixture will be brown. 
6. Line 2 8 inch baking tins. I split the mixture into 3 thin layers and baked for around 12-15 minutes at 180oC until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. If you bake 2 layers baking time will be a little more. Always use a skewer and you won't go far wrong. 

For the frosting (enough to sandwich three layers, you'll need extra for piping and for the top if you wish to decorate it)
75g butter softed
200g icing sugar 
2-3 tbsp milk 

1. Beat all the ingredients together until pale with no lumps- around 4 minutes. 

For the honeycomb 
100g caster sugar 
1/2 tbsp glucose 
25ml runny honey 
1/2 tsp baking powder 

1. Put the sugar, honey, glucose and a little less than 2 tbsp of water in a pan and boil until the liquid reaches 150oC. You really need a thermometer for this, its tricky work. The liquid should be a light caramel. Remove from the heat and quickly add the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will fizz like crazy, keep whisking it then pour onto a lined baking sheet and allow to cool for about an hour. 

To assemble 
1. Beat the honeycomb between two sheets of greaseproof paper until fine gold crumbs. Tear an earl grey teabag and mix half of the leaves through the honeycomb. 
Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack. Spread a heaped tablespoon of lemon curd on each and smooth thinly and then spread one third of the frosting. Scatter a handful of the honeycomb dust. Repeat with the other layer. Smooth a thin layer on top and finish with honeycomb dust. 

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