With whimsical bumblebees swarming around a beehive-shaped cake, this honey and apricot dessert is perfect for a springtime birthday party. The slight tartness of the apricot filling pairs perfectly with the sweet and smooth honey buttercream icing. The simple shape is easy to carve, and just a swirl of buttercream transforms an ordinary layer cake into an edible birthday centerpiece. The best part? The marzipan bumblebees are super fun (and simple!) to make with a few basic cake-decorating tools.
Honey Butter Cake
For the Honey Butter Cake, Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour four 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Measure the milk and honey in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
Add in the sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
With the mixer on low, add in ½ of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk and honey mixture, scraping out any remaining honey if necessary.
Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on medium-low until combined.
Evenly distribute the batter between the four pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Let cool on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
For the Honey Buttercream, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth.
With the mixer on low, gradually add in the sugar, honey and vanilla.
Once everything begins to combine, turn the mixer up the medium-high.
Continue mixing until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add in the gel food coloring, a few drops at a time, until desired shade is reached.
Cover with a piece of plastic wrap until use.
For the Marzipan Bees, Tint about 3 ounces of marzipan yellow and 1 to 2 ounces black. Divide the yellow marzipan into about 6 half-ounce balls (about the size of a large gumball) then roll into a bee shape.
Use the end of a thin paintbrush to indent two eyes and the large opening of a small piping tip to create a smile. Set aside.
Roll out the black marzipan to about ⅛-inch thick.
Use the paring knife to cut thin strips. Wrap the strips of black marzipan around the body of the bees and secure by gently pressing the ends into the belly of the bees.
Re-roll the remaining black marzipan. Use the large, round opening of the piping tip to cut out one circle per bee. Adhere the black circle to the back ends of the bees.
Roll out plain (untinted) marzipan to about ¼ to ⅛-inch thick. 7. Using the large, round opening of the piping tip, cut out two circles per bee. Pinch the tips and elongate the circles slightly to create wings.
Press the tips together on the backs of the bees.
Roll two tiny balls of plain marzipan per bee to create the eyes.
Gently press them into the indented eye markings.
Lightly dip the end of the paintbrush in the black gel food coloring and mark the centers of the eyes. Let dry.
To assemble, once the cakes are completely cool, trim to tops so that each layer is flat.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip with some of the buttercream and set aside.
Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish.
Pipe a ring of buttercream around the top, outer edge of the cake. Fill in the buttercream dam with about 1/3 cup of apricot preserves.
Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
Pipe a double ring of buttercream on top of the third layer of cake and fill with about 1/4 cup of apricot preserves.
Use any remaining buttercream left in the piping bag to fill in the gaps between the layers of cake. Use an off-set spatula to smooth out.
Chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, or until the buttercream firms up a bit.
Once chilled, use a serrated knife to carve the cake into a beehive-shape. Taking only a little bit off a time, carve the cake until the top is shaped like a dome.
Once carved, crumb coat the cake with the honey buttercream. Chill to set about 10 to 15 minutes.
Frost the entire cake with buttercream.
Set the cake on top of a cake turntable. Place the tip of a metal spatula near the bottom of the cake. Gently press into the frosting and spin the cake. As you spin, slowly bring the tip of the spatula up the side of the cake and over the top to create the spiral texture.
Finish with the marzipan bees while the frosting is still soft.