The A to Z of Baking: Q is for Queen of Hearts Cake

IMG_0938When I’m not raving about one of the Hummingbird Bakery’s books, I’m raving about the Hidden Surprise Cakes book by Angela Drake (which I love all the more due to the fact it cost me a bargain £3 from the book club at work). So, after weeks of feeling ill-prepared for the letter Q of my baking challenge, I turned back to the Hidden Surprise Cakes book for rescue and decided to give another one of Ange’s recipes a go for the first time, although I sneakily changed the name of the recipe to suit my evil needs… Mwahahahahaha. (See ‘Hidden Hearts Sponge Cake’ in the book).

Now, if I’d have gotten my act together, I could have been clever and baked the cake/published this post in time for Valentine’s Day, but well, I’m nothing if not disorganised. So, here it is coming to you two weeks late… maybe you could bake it in time for Steak and Blow Job day on 14th March? Awkward.

High points

I’m not a huge marzipan fan to be fair (although as a kid, I was a massive fan of a book called The Marzipan Pig – he fell behind a fridge, went stale and no one loved him, it was heartbreaking, people…). Anyway, this cake features marzipan hearts – both those on show and some sneaky hidden ones, as well as a distinctive almond taste to the sponge. I can handle the stuff in small doses though, and thought it worked really well in this cake.

Low points

It’s actually quite fiddly shaping the hidden marzipan hearts and although they won’t be winning any awards for their stunning shape, I was pleasantly surprised that mine came out more heart-shaped than I expected!

For the sponges:

  • 225 butter
  • 225 caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the buttercream:

  • 175g butter
  • 350g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp hot water

To decorate:

  • 225g natural marzipan
  • red food colouring paste (I used Sugarflair paste in ‘Scarlet Red’)

Other things you will need:

  • 2 x 20cm/8-inch round sandwich tins
  • Small heart-shaped cutter


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease 2 sandwich tins (20cm/8inch).
  • Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a spoonful of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Sift in the flour and gently fold in using a metal spoon. Fold in the almond extract and milk.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and level the surfaces. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until risen, golden and just firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To decorate, lightly dust a surface with icing sugar, then knead the marzipan until smooth. Knead in enough food colouring paste to colour the marzipan a bright red. I probably used about a quarter of a teaspoon.
Marzipan before and after food colouring paste.

Marzipan before and after food colouring paste.

  • Take a 70g piece of marzipan and thinly roll out to a 35cm roll. Then take a 50g piece of marzipan and roll to a 20cm roll.


  • Form the rolls into heart shapes by scoring along the length of each roll with a knife. Run a thin skewer (I used wooden as I didn’t have a metal one – it worked just fine) along the scored lines to shape the top of the heart. Turn the rolls over and pinch along the length of each roll to shape the pointed base of the heart.
Evidence that I managed an actual heart shape!

Evidence that I managed an actual heart shape!

  • To make the buttercream, place the butter in a bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes until very soft and pale. Sift in half the icing sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until blended with the butter. Sift in the remaining icing sugar and mix again. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth, pale and creamy. Add the hot water and beat for a further 30 seconds to give the buttercream a silky smooth texture.
  • Spread one third of the buttercream on one of the sponges. Arrange the heart-shaped rolls, point side down, in two concentric circles on the buttercream, pressing them down gently. Spread another third of the buttercream over the marzipan rolls in an even layer. Place the second sponge on top.


  • Spread the remaining buttercream over the top sponge, swirling it into circles with the tip of a palette knife if you like, I didn’t do this. Thinly roll out the remaining marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Use a small heart-shaped cutter to stamp out enough marzipan hearts to fill the outer edges of the cake and then arrange them on the top of the cake.
Et voila!

Et voila!

My Random Musings

2 thoughts on “The A to Z of Baking: Q is for Queen of Hearts Cake

  1. mrsmumnz says:

    Oh that’s clever… The little hearts as you slice through. I like that. Although not a marzipan fan either. #anythinggoes

    • jenieveve says:

      I wondered if perhaps using rolls of royal icing could be an idea for a marzipan replacement?! Maybe something to try out in future. Thanks for stopping by!

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