Honey Bee

Lemon Ricotta Cake + Chocolate Honey Cake ft. Agave Nectar Frosting

Last week I made a cake for my co-worker's sister's wedding rehearsal dinner - lemon ricotta flavored, decorated to look like the floral invitation, and the bride is also sweet on bees.

Whilst making her cake and brainstorming the inevitable remix, I decided to add a chocolate honey cake into the mix to alternate with the yellow lemon cake. Unfortunately this Eureka did not occur until after Laura's cake was well underway, so her cake is just lemon ricotta (yummy delicious lemon ricotta) while this little remix actually has a honeybee interior.

Amanda gives a great tutorial on how to make a vertical layer cake over at I Am Baker - so check that out for the full step-by-step version. I, however, am not nearly as patient or methodical, so scroll down for my 'highlights' reel. The gameplan is to bake 2 cakes of the same size - 1 lemon and 1 chocolate - and then cut out concentric circle layers, one's positive becomes the other's negative, and you're left with 2 separate layered cakes.

Cutting cakes becomes very crumby, so it's best to work with cakes that are chilled or almost frozen. After baking the cakes, I sealed each with a light coat of agave nectar and set them in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting out the rings. These cakes are small (6" diameter) so I drew out a template on a 6" cardboard circle and offset the rings 3/4" for 4 separate layers. Depending on the size of pans and desired effect, you can adjust the number or thickness of layers.

Cut off the first cardboard ring and use that shape to cut out both the lemon and chocolate cake. The outer ring of one will end up fitting around the inner ring of the other, and vice versa. Cut the next ring off of the cardboard template and cut out both cakes again. Repeat until you're left with concentric cake circles and a cake 'core' of each flavor.

I chose not to frost between the layers in order to have a cleaner-looking slice at the end - the icing on the top of the final cake should act as a glue to hold the layers together. Once cakes have been assembled, crumb coat and decorate - I used a decorating tip to do the invitation flowers again on top and then a small spatula to texture the edges.

I do like this cake, though I think a taller version would be much more dramatic - this little guy is only 1" high, but imagine one that is 4-5" tall and make up of 9 or 10 layers? That would be, you know, the bee's knees.

agave honey_med.jpg

lemon ricotta cake
1 box lemon cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 c. water
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and  grease pans with butter or a non-stick spray like PAM. In a large mixing bowl, beat ricotta cheese, eggs, lemon juice, and water until blended. Add cake mix and beat for 1 minute on low  speed and 1 minute on high speed. Pour batter into pans until each is 2/3 of the way  full. Bake according to the times on the back of the mix box, depending  on the types of pans you are using.  

chocolate honey cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 c. honey
1/2 stick butter
1 c. water
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, eggs, honey, and water until blended. Add cake mix and beat for 1 minute on low speed and 1 minute on high speed. Pour batter into pans until each is 2/3 of the way full. Bake according to the times on the back of the mix box. Let cool.

Use a serrated knife to level off both cakes so each sits flat and are the same height. Pour agave nectar into a small dish and use a pastry brush or spatula to coat each cake to seal in the crumbs. Set in freezer for 15-20 minutes to let cakes stiffen before cutting, assembling, and frosting.

agave nectar frosting
1/2 c. shortening or butter
2 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. honey
1-2 tbsp. milk
4 c. confectioner's sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, agave nectar, honey, and milk until blended. Slowly add in sugar and continue to mix on high speed until frosting forms.