Heart Surprise Cake


 This weekend i ventured down south to Bristol for a friends 21st. Now that i have a bit of a reputation regarding cakes, i didn’t feel i could turn up without one but was swiftly running out of ideas. After the checkerboard cake i made last time i wasn’t sure how i was going to top it.

Luckily i was saved: days prior to leaving, the next issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine arrived and in it was a recipe for a loaf cake which, when you cut into it, has a heart running through it.


The way it is achieved is by cooking a pink cake, cutting out pink hearts and then lining them up in a second loaf cake to be baked again inside a different coloured cake batter. The actual recipe said that i should make a pink loaf cake, cut it into slices and cut out a heart shape from each slice using a biscuit cutter. I decided this sounded like a large percentage of the cake wouldn’t be used so decided to change the method slightly.

I cooked a two egg cake (in fact i used the exact quantities from the basic cupcake recipe) and added about half a teaspoon of red gel food colouring. I then baked this for about 13 minutes at 180 degrees in a 9″ x 12″ rectangular baking tin. I have to admit, i did commit the ultimate baking sin and kept opening the oven door to see if the cake was cooked as i had no idea how much shorter it would take than a batch of cupcakes. Despite the cake being thinner than cupcakes, it took a lot longer to cook than i expected.

If you are using a liquid food colouring, you will need to use a lot more in order to get the same intensity of colour. I would recommend adding a bit more flour so that the mixture is not too runny.

Cutting hearts out of the tray bake

I let this cake cool, put it on a chopping board and cut out hearts using a biscuit cutter. My cutter was bigger than the one called for in the recipe but this didn’t seem to matter.


I then mixed together the second lot of cake batter. In the good food recipe, this was a cake with ground almonds – i didn’t tamper with this because i thought they could be crucial to the structure.


  • 175g unsalted butter (I used margarine)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 140g self raising foour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 100ml milk


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan
  2. Grease and line 900g loaf tin
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time (if you are not using an electric mixer whisk the eggs lightly before you add them)
  5. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir them into the mixture along with the almonds
  6. Mix in the milk and vanilla essence to form a smooth batter

I then added a very thin layer of the batter to the bottom of a greased and lined loaf tin so that i could stand the cooked hearts in it.


I placed the hearts on top of this layer. I would recommend lining a couple of hearts up at a time and then placing them into the tin together – trying to place them in one at a time makes it very difficult to get them exactly lined up.

Placing in the hearts

I put in as many hearts as i could to make sure they would all support each other and stay stood up.


I then spooned on the second cake batter over the top and round the sides and popped it in the oven at 160 degrees for 1hr 10 mins.


When i took out the cake, it had domed meaning that there was a split in the cake where two hearts had come apart from each other. However, icing can hide a multitude of problems and the hiccup was covered up well.

When checking the cake is cooked, you need to remember that the very deepest point in the middle of the cake is actually the hearts (which are already cooked). So sticking in a knife or skewer at this point will inevitably come out clean – you need to choose a testing point somewhere around the hearts.

The icing in the magazine was a ganache (cream mixed with melted chocolate) but i didn’t have any cream so decided to make a chocolate fudge icing a la Mary Berry.

To do this:

  • Melt 2oz butter in a pan
  • Sieve in 1oz coca powder and cook on a low heat for 1 min
  • add about 3 tblsp milk
  • sieve in 8oz icing sugar and mix until smooth

While this icing is hot it remains quite runny so you can pour it over the cake. However, it cools and sets rapidly so you need to be quick. If you don’t manage to ice it fast enough, get a metal knife and a cup of hot water. Dip the knife in the water to warm it up and use it to smooth the icing.

I made this cake twice – i did a trial run for my brother’s birthday. The first time i sprinkled the cake with cocoa powder which was easy and covered up any cracks in the icing, the second time i sprinkled some flaked almonds on the top. If you want to do this, make sure you do it quickly as they will not stick to the icing once it has dried.

When you cut into it there was a lovely heart both times – it wasn’t necessarily perfect all the way through but the wow factor was there. Now i’ve just got to think about what i’m going to do for the rest of my friends birthdays – eeeek!


This cake is definitely easier than it looks to achieve so i would recommend it if you are trying to impress someone – definitely a good valentines day recipe! I think you could change the hidden picture if you want, so long as it is not too complex. I think that if you chose a shape with lots of edges or holes (such as a star) it might be difficult to get them all to stay in the same orientation.

Keep an eye out for Ruth’s next blog – i have seen the pictures and feel rather inferior…. 😉


Similar recipes can be found here:

Hidden Heart Cake

Hidden Heart Cupcakes

5 thoughts on “Heart Surprise Cake

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