The Magic Of Baking

In 2017, I wrote a blog about the magic of baking.  Unlike cooking, baking is pure magic to me.  Ingredients in baking look totally different once the baking process is completed.** 

This past weekend I really got to enjoy a special event of magic happening again in my kitchen.  Several months ago, Susan, a friend from church posted on Facebook a photo of a beautiful cake. I asked her if she was baking it, and her reply was that it was a bit complicated.  I said I am game for complicated and volunteered to bake this cake with her.  The biggest obstacle we had was to find a date we could get together to do this.  Being considerably younger than me, Susan is employed full time.  That eliminated weekdays.  Then she was traveling, or I was traveling.  We finally set a Saturday.  Five days before it, She sent me a note that she was sick—so was I.  Really, off we went again to find a suitable baking date.

Here is the photo of the cookbook that Susan had posted on Facebook. This cookbook is available on Amazon, and I am sure also at your favorite bookstore.

Finally, last Saturday was the day.  We decided to bake this beautiful cake.  Instead of just baking it and eating it ourselves, we invited our small group bible study friends to come later in the day for a light dinner and a decadent dessert.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m., Susan showed up at my door with her hands full of Ghiradelli baking chocolate, Dutch process cocoa, buttermilk, and a can of golden syrup.  Well, actually, the can of golden syrup was sitting at her home, forgotten!  Golden syrup is not something you will find in the grocery stores in the U.S.  It can be found in specialty stores that sell international food products. While we were getting all the other ingredients that I was supplying together, my sweet husband, Dennis, offered to find golden syrup.  Since there is no World Market nearby, he offered to drive to the closest one.  Fortunately, the closest one was near Susan’s home, so we told him to drive there since Susan’s roommate was still home and she would hand him this British delicacy.  

So, what is golden syrup?  In 1863, Adam Lyle received a sugar refinery in lieu of a payment due to him.  He discovered that the byproduct of sugar refining was a syrup that was sold cheaply as pig food.  He thought that given some adjustments this syrup could be used for human consumption.  It was a success.  Twenty years later a chemist he hired at the company further formulated how sugar could be refined to make a preserve and sweetener for cooking, bringing it to its current recipe.

Although golden syrup looks like honey, it’s a completely different type of sweetener made by inverting sugar during the refining process. In essence, golden syrup is just water, sugar and citric acid that come together in a way that forms a thick liquid used in baking and to sweeten foods. 

Susan and Dennis reading the ingredients that make up golden syrup.

We had a choice of baking the cake in three 7” pans or in one 10” pan and splitting the layer into three.  Since I could not find 7” pans in the store, we opted for the 10” pan. Preparation had commenced.  We blended a small amount of flour with other ingredients and lots of melted chocolate.  It was poured into the cake pan and set in the oven.

Susan ready to slice the cake into layers. That big long, super sharp carving knife was perfect for the job!

I think the real magic in this recipe had to do with the two different frostings on the cake.  We waited until the cake was baked and cooled before we began the frosting.

The first frosting was a chocolate Italian butter cream.  As Susan was cooking the ultra fine sugar, water, and golden syrup to a “soft ball stage,” more specifically to 248 degrees, we realized we needed a third set of hands.  I was busy whipping eggs whites to soft peaks.  Dennis stepped in.  I do not own a candy thermometer which attached to the a pot when cooking down sugar, but I had a great digital thermometer.  Dennis volunteered to hold the thermometer in the sugar mixture watching the temperature to hit the required 248 degrees.  As soon as that temp was hit, the pot of hot sugary syrup was handed over to me.  As the egg whites are whipping in the bowl, I started to slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites watching as they whipped to stiff peaks.  The melted chocolate (cooled) was added, and then to our shock, 5 sticks of soften butter was added.  Really?  The frosting was peaking beautifully, and then this huge amounts of butter was added as the whipping continued.  All of a sudden I had a soupy substance.  I panicked and showed everyone that we had lost our stiff peaks.  As we worried if the frosting had flopped, I set the speed on the Kitchenaid to maximum speed and meraculously, it became stiff peaks once again!  Yay!  Chocolate Italian butter cream had actually happened.

Dennis watching the temperature of the sugar mixture as Susan stirs the pot.
Dennis pointing out the 5 sticks of butter that will be added to the frosting.

The next frosting to be made was the fudge frosting, which was really a ganache.  A ganache is a shiny chocolate frosting that can literally be poured over a cake.

Susan, once again at the stove, brought whipping cream and golden syrup to a boil.  Then she poured it over a bowl of chopped chocolate.  The directions said not to vigorously stir, but to take a small whisk and slowly stir only in the middle of the bowl.  We were confused as it didn’t look like the chocolate was all melting, and it just looked odd.  Susan took a small whisk and slowly stirred in small circles only in the middle of the bowl. To our amazement, the center started to look like shiny chocolate, and as she slowly stirred, the milky looking substance around the outer part of the bowl was slowing moving into the middle and becoming a shiny, thick, glossy mixture.  It was pure magic.

Starting the slow stir to make an emulsion of the golden syrup, whipping cream, and chocolate.

We were newbies at making this recipe. Sometimes we read the directions after we did the next step as illustrated in the below video!

When it was time to slice the cake into three layers, we decided that the layers would be too thin for our liking, so we opted to just slice the cake into two layers.  First the chocolate filling was spread thinly on the layer, topped with the chocolate Italian butter cream.  The top layer was added, and then the light layer of fudge and the cake completely iced with the chocolate Italian butter cream.

Adding the fudge frosting to the layers.
Oh, that Italian butter cream frosting–so decadent!
Yes, it take two to frost this cake!

Then we were instructed to put the cake in the refrigerator for an hour.  That hardened the butter cream frosting—of course, it did.  There was five sticks of butter surrounding this cake!  An hour later, we took the cake out, slightly warmed the fudge, and poured and spread it over the whole cake.

Covering the Italian butter cream frosting with the fudge frosting.
Fully covered!

The final touch was the honeycomb candy that Dennis found for us when he was on a search for golden syrup.  Susan chopped up the candies, and decorated the edge of the cake with the candies.

Chopping the honeycomb candy for the topping.

If was after 3:00 p.m. before the cake was completely finished.  Three people, 5 hours equals 15 man hours to create this cake!

It may not have been as pretty as the photo in the cookbook, but it was pretty enough for our first try at such a complicated recipe.  The taste, though, was divine. 


At 4:00 p.m., our friends from our small group bible study showed up to have a light dinner Susan and I prepared, and to taste this divine cake we created.  It was a fun and very tasty adventure.

What I learned is how much fun it is to share a love for baking with a friend who also loves baking.  To make a recipe that looked overwhelming for one to make, was pure joy of do with a friend.

**Click on this link to read about the magic of baking.

One comment

  1. What fun for all of you! I LOVE that honeycomb candy–first had it in Australia! The cake looks wonderful too. I’m sure it was delicious.


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