#1 – 48 recipes challenge: Recipe 35 – Hidden Heart Cake (plus bonus Heart Shaped Bakewell Biscuits)

Having been single on Valentine’s Day for the last 12 years, there haven’t been many opportunities to get involved in romance inspired cookery.  This year however, I was very excited to have the chance to indulge my creativity with some romantic baking for someone who loves cake even more than I do!  Extensive googling gave me many recipe ideas – there are an abundance of heart shaped goodies mostly involving strawberries, raspberries, chocolate and red food colouring out there.  I could have happily made many of them (and in fact did make some really cute Bakewell Biscuits too so there’s a bonus bake at the end of this post!) but for the main event I thought I’d try something I’ve never done before – a hidden shape cake.  The basic premise is that you ‘hide’ a shape made of contrasting coloured sponge inside the cake – it’s not visible from the outside, but appears when the cake is cut.

Although it looks very impressive, it’s not a technically difficult bake; just time consuming.  You have to bake the sponge which is going to form the hidden shape first, allow it to cool completely, then use a cutter to stamp out the shape you want (in this case a heart).  You then have to make a second batch of cake batter, insert the hidden shapes, cover with the rest of the batter and bake.  Finally, you decorate the cake, providing a full covering to ensure that the hidden shape isn’t revealed until the cut, for maximum surprise.  You also get quite a lot of leftover cake, also known as cook’s privilege…

I found the cake quite easy to do by following the steps in the recipe.  Here are the construction phases:

Step 1 - Cutting the chocolate hearts out

Step 1 – Cutting the chocolate hearts out

Step 2 - putting the hearts into the batter

Step 2 – putting the hearts into the batter

 

Step 3 - Covering the hidden hearts with the batter

Step 3 – Covering the hidden hearts with the batter

Step 4 - The baked cake, showing the hidden heart at the end

Step 4 – The baked cake, showing the hidden heart at the end

 

And here’s the finished cake, fully iced so the heart inside isn’t visible.  My icing skills leave a lot to be desired, so it’s slightly ‘rustic’ looking (and not at all like the picture in the recipe!)

Hidden Heart Cake - uncut

Hidden Heart Cake – uncut

The icing was very stiff after being chilled as the recipe recommended.  I actually wonder if it would have been better not to chill it so that it poured onto the cake rather than having to be spread on.  I had a structural issue with the edges of the cake collapsing as I tried to ice it, which wasn’t helped by the solidness of the icing.  I suspect this was because my loaf tin wasn’t quite big enough.  The cake overflowed out the sides which created a lip, which I had to cut off.  To make it look slightly better I employed red sugar sand sprinkles for all over bling and also pushed my heart cutter into the icing to give me an outline to fill in with some freeze dried strawberries pushed into the chocolate.

The nervous bit was waiting for the recipient to cut the cake, so I could check whether it had worked!  Luckily it had, and my Valentine was very surprised and delighted with his gift.

A perfect Hidden Heart Cake for Valentine's Day

A perfect Hidden Heart Cake for Valentine’s Day

He was happy to share so I had the opportunity to try a slice.  It’s a good cake – the ground almonds in the batter made it nice and moist, the chocolate icing was rich and indulgent but not too rich.  The only thing I was slightly disappointed with was the actual colour of the heart.  The recipe said to add red food colouring, which I had done, but because there’s also cocoa powder in the mix the brown colour took over.  I’d bought gel colour especially as well as it’s meant to be more reliable and give deeper colour!  If I did this again, I think I’d leave out the cocoa powder and substitute it for raspberry or strawberry powder combined with the food colouring to give a lovely red or pink heart in the centre of the cake.

The recipe could also be used for a different shape – an animal shape for a child or an animal lover perhaps?  The only limit is what shape cutter you can get and your imagination.

Scores for this bake are:

Healthiness – 1/10 (At over 800 calories per slice, this is pure treat!)

Ease of prep – 6/10 (Much like last month’s croissants, the process isn’t difficult, just time consuming.  You’ll need the best part of a day for this one although you can do it in stages)

Flavour/taste – 9/10 (Great cake, but I think strawberry or raspberry flavour hearts would work better with this than chocolate hearts.  Unless you’re baking for a total chocolate freak, of course!)

Here’s the link to the recipe I used:  http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/hidden-heart-cake

And here’s your bonus bake.  I just couldn’t resist the chance to make these cute little biscuits as Valentine’s gifts as well.  It was the first time I’ve worked with freeze dried fruit and I was really impressed.  I couldn’t get freeze dried fruit powder but I crushed up some freeze dried strawberries in a pestle and mortar and that worked equally well.  It added great and genuine flavour.  These biscuits were really tasty and looked beautiful.  I used different cutters to those in the recipe but as you can see they still turned out to be gorgeous.

Strawberry and almond Bakewell Biscuits

Strawberry and almond Bakewell Biscuits

Moving the individual heart ‘rings’ about to construct the biscuits was quite difficult as they are not very stable so I found it easier to cut one large heart, place it on the baking tray, cut and remove the middle size heart and place that on the baking tray.  I then cut the next large heart in the opposite colour, placed that on the baking tray and cut the middle sized heart out.  Then I went back to the first middle sized heart, placed that into the second large heart, cut out the smallest sized heart and so on…

This is a great recipe which was quick and easy to make (in fact, constructing the hearts was more time consuming than making the dough!) and again could be adapted for many different shapes.  It looks so impressive and is actually very easy to do.  Here it is, I’d recommend giving it a go:  http://www.everynookandcranny.net/bakewell-biscuits/

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