pumpkin cake with honeycomb meringue frosting

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

I promised a super-awesome pumpkin cake with honeycomb frosting using this puree of awesomeness, and by golly gosh I think I'm about to deliver. This cake is incredibly light, with an airy, meringue-based buttercream to match, and the flavours work beautifully together. If you prefer a heavier recipe, or really really love pumpkin cake, why not try last year's Pumpkin Cake with Orange and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting?  

Other than the bit of self promotion up there I'm not really in a rambly mood, so without further ado

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

Lydia's Pumpkin Cake with Honeycomb Meringue Frosting
1 egg
2 egg yolks (save the whites for the frosting)
400g (~350ml, 1½ cups) pumpkin puree (to make your own, see this)
330g (just under 2¼ cups) self raising flour (or add 2 tsp baking powder to every 1 cup plain flour if no self-raising)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg or mace
1½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
300g (2 ¾ sticks, 10.6oz) butter
50g (¼ cup) soft light brown sugar (or replace both sugars weight-for-weight with caster sugar if you don't have brown - 180g - 1 cup)
130g (¾ cup) muscovado sugar

Honeycomb Meringue Buttercream
100g (just under ½ cup) caster sugar
50g (2 tbsp, 1/8 cup) golden syrup
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted and ready to tip into the syrup at a moments notice
150g (1 ⅓ sticks, 5.3oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 170°C (375°F, Gas Mark 3) and grease two sandwich tins (8 inch / 20cm) with butter.

Lightly break up the eggs and egg yolks, and mix into the pumpkin puree. Set to one side.

Mix the dry ingredients (but not the sugar) together and set aside.

Cream the butter and the sugar till light and fluffy, then slowly add the pumpkin/egg mixture (together with a couple of spoonfuls of the dry mixture to prevent curdling), while mixing.

Add the rest dry mixture and mix until smooth.

Divide among your pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until the centre of each cake is springy and there's a slight fizzing sound. Leave cakes in the tins for about 5 minutes before transferring, upside down, on a wire rack to complete cooling.

For the frosting, first prepare the cooling area for the honeycomb by greasing well a rectangle of tinfoil. It's best if you keep the foil as smooth as possible, otherwise the honeycomb will set into these creases and removing the foil will be... "frustrating". I leave mine flat to aid with the no creases agenda, and find my honeycomb doesn't roll off, but if you're worried about over-exuberant lava-hot honeycomb froth then you could fold the corners up to form an open box or place the foil inside something heat-proof.

Place the egg whites into a scrupulously clean mixing bowl and make sure the whisk you're using is also clean (I swirl boiling water around / through them, and inevitably, over me). Whisk on medium speed until you reach a soft peak consistency - i.e. when you lift the whisk out of the bowl, the egg whites form peaks that are slightly floppy.

Bring the sugar and the golden syrup to a simmer over a low heat, stirring. Once it starts boiling, stop stirring. If you have a candy thermometer, boil the mixture until it reaches 121°C / 250°F. If no thermometer, it'll be a rich amber colour and quite frothy, and will take about 3-4 minutes on a low heat once it's started bubbling properly. At this stage add half of the hot syrup to the egg whites while whisking, pouring down the side of the bowl so it doesn't splatter against the whisk. You might need someone to help you with this step if you don't have a free-standing mixer. Once the syrup is in, keep whisking the mix on slow to medium speed until it's close to room temperature.

not ready yet
© Lydia, 
In the meantime, put the syrup back on the hob and bring up to about 153°C / 307°F and a good caramel colour. If you don't have a thermometer, have a glass of cold water handy and test whether you're up to temperature by dipping the handle of a spoon in the syrup, then straight into the water. If the caramel cracks (either hear it or see it), it's at "hard crack" stage and is ready. If no crack, no ready yet. I really struggle with this, even with a thermometer. A little overcooked and the honeycomb will be burned, but undercooked, the resultant honeycomb will be jaw-stickingly chewy. Good luck brave soul. There is a particularly informative article about honeycomb here.

Once the syrup is caramel-y and up to temperature, toss in the bicarb and mix it in thoroughly but lightly, and quickly. If you don't mix it in thoroughly and / or haven't sifted it first, you'll end up with lumps of salty disgustingness in the honeycomb. On the flip-side, I find that if you mix too roughly / too much / too slowly, the froth cools and collapses and you get a very chewy, not particularly aerated honeycomb. Joy. Immediately tip onto your prepared foil and pop in the fridge to cool.

Once your whisking meringue mix is towards room temperature, add the softened butter bit by bit, whisking until well incorporated.

When the honeycomb is cooled, break it up and mix half into the buttercream, reserving the rest to decorate the cake.

To assemble, sandwich together the cooled cakes with the buttercream and, just before serving, decorate with the honeycomb.

Your cake will be fine for a week (I'd keep it in the fridge owing to the meringue-based buttercream), but be aware that the honeycomb will absorb moisture from the air and become soggy. It'll start to absorb water from the air immediately, so store in an airtight container, some sites recommend in the fridge.

Enjoy autumnal yum!

© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk


  1. Zosia made it - it was amazing!! didn't last 24 hours....

    1. Excellent!
      There's a savoury pie recipe with pumpkin in it that I'll be posting up in the morning... if you still have one of the 6 pumpkins left!


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