Hidden heart cake

Hidden heart cake

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(6 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 20 mins plus cooling

More effort

Cuts into 8-10 slices
Slice into this delicious loaf cake and reveal the secret heart design running through the middle - a really romantic bake!

Nutrition and extra info

  • un-iced

Nutrition: per slice (10)

  • kcal858
  • fat60g
  • saturates31g
  • carbs65g
  • sugars42g
  • fibre4g
  • protein13g
  • salt0.6g
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    For the cake

    • 2 x 175g unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 x 175g golden caster sugar
    • 6 large egg
    • 2 x 140g self-raising flour, sifted
    • 2 x ½ tsp baking powder
      Baking powder

      Baking powder

      bay-king pow-dah

      Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

    • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 2 x 85g ground almond
    • 2 x 100ml milk



      One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

    • 3 tsp vanilla extract
    • 28ml bottle red food colouring or ½ tsp red food colouring gel

    For the icing

    • 100ml double cream
    • 200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
    • 50g unsalted butter
    • pink sprinkles (optional)


    1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with a long strip of baking parchment. Cream 175g butter and 175g sugar until light and fluffy. Beat 3 of the eggs and pour in, a little at a time, mixing after each addition. Sift together 140g flour, 1⁄2 tsp baking powder and the cocoa, then fold into the butter mixture along with the almonds. Combine 100ml milk, 11⁄2 tsp vanilla and all the food colouring and add to the batter, then mix until evenly coloured.

    2. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hr 10 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack. When cool, cut the cake into 4cm slices. Using a 5cm cutter, stamp out the hearts (save any remaining cake for another treat).

    3. Repeat step 1 to make a second cake mixture – you won’t have cocoa or food colour in this batch. Pour 3⁄4 of the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Push the bottoms of the hearts into the batter in a tightly packed row. Spoon over the remaining cake mixture, covering as much of the hearts as possible. bake for 1 hr or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    4. For the icing, gently heat all the ingredients over a low heat until combined. Leave to cool, then chill until needed. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the sprinkles, if using. Will keep for 3 days stored in a cake tin.

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    Comments (9)

    lady_wayfarer's picture

    I was feeling quietly confident making this cake for my boyfriend as a valentines surprise. It took AGES! But that's ok...you can't rush these things. I made the mixture for the red cake using the blog link, someone kindly posted below...hardly any waste. The disaster for me struck with the chocolate covering. A runny watery mess which has resulted in a cake which looks ok, but is soggy and heavy. A Valentine's doorstop.

    satans_lil_sister's picture

    Made this for a Valentines-themed Bake Sale at work. Made one red loaf and then doubled the ingredients for the plain batter to make two loaves. Still had loads of red cake left over (it's in the freezer!).
    Looked impressive and sold quickly. The scraps I got to taste tasted good. My only issue was that the icing hardened too much and then cracked and fell off the sides as I tried to slice it. Don't let it get too cold!

    kittyxxkat's picture

    I made this cake for Valentines Day delicious cake,there is a lot of red cake left over but I made cake balls out of the extra cake so no waste will definitely be baking this again ❤️

    craftybeggar's picture

    Easy enough to make but had I read the recipe first and realised how long it was going to take I might have thought twice... Had a lot of the first cake left over plus it wasn't particularly red, more red/brown even though I used gel colour. Second cake didn't take as long to cook, more like 50 mins in my oven. Leftovers taste good though, not sliced into the cake yet as saving it for after tea.

    karengould's picture

    Made this for Valentine's Day and it was fairly straightforward to make. Used leftover cake for pudding warmed up with ice-cream. Found also my hearts were reddish-brown and not red which was a bit disappointing even though I added more gel than was stated! Cooking times worked ok for me and cooked at 160 in a conventional oven. Icing was bit rich for my taste, but would make again using different designs as it is quite impressive!

    belindacaroline's picture

    My cake has brown hearts, they aren't even approaching red, and I used the red gel colouring. If I make this again I won't be using the cocoa in the heart mixture, to ensure I get red hearts. To compound that problem, I put the row of hearts in the mixture the wrong way up, I didn't even consider until reading another question about this cake that the points should be down to the base of the tin. An easier way to do the heart cake mix, is as described by another poster in their blog below, to put the mixture in a long narrow shallow tin and cook for considerably less time. This means you can easily cut the hearts out from the sponge when it is about 2 cms thick. If you do use this method then you don't need to make as much heart mixture, only half the amount is needed, there is a huge amount of waste.

    foodiefil's picture

    I've made this for cake club but used star cutters instead, don't have hearts, anyway ... the food colouring advice for gel didn't work for me, it's still just brown, well a browny red, but not red red like the picture. Haven't cut into it yet so don't know how it will look.

    Also, the first cake (set to be the hearts or stars in my case) took well over an hour and ten on 140 in a fan oven. More like an hour and a half. And the other one, because of my inability to work out how to change the oven temp I had to do it on 180 (covered with foil after half an hour to prevent browning) and it cooked in under an hour and was fine.

    Hope it's tasty!

    alisondavey's picture

    This is a delicious cake - but - there is an awful lot of wastage from the first cake from which you cut the hearts. The recipe says "keep this for another treat" but no suggestions were made. I used some of mine for trifle sponges and the rest of it I reduced to crumbs, mixed with melted chocolate and made truffles.
    Another problem I had was that the "hearts" rose to the top of the cake, so I didn't get it neatly in the middle like the picture. Again some hints and tips in the recipe to help achieve this would have been appreciated.

    Questions (8)

    somethinggood's picture

    i noticed a lot of people said about the wastage - could you not have one white cake with red hearts and one red cake with white hearts?? i would love to make this but it looks like rocket science for me!!! Do i need a degree??!? ;)

    goodfoodteam's picture

    Hi there. The cake is not too difficult, you put the hearts into the unbaked mixture so you wouldn't be able to make two cakes.

    jburton's picture

    Thanks for the help everyone, I'm now all set to go...

    jburton's picture

    I dont want to sound stupid but can someone please advise me. In the method it says ....Push the bottoms of the hearts into the batter in a tightly packed row...... now would that be the point of the hearts so they are like stood up or lying flat....

    goodfoodteam's picture

    Hi everyone, thanks for all your questions. To clarify, Philippa is right - you need to place the hearts into the batter point down, so they're stood up straight. Hope the cake turned out well!

    BBC Good Food team

    foodiefil's picture

    Not lying flat, the point to the bottom, all back to back. :)

    sophiedeegan's picture

    I think it would mean the points... may be a bit fiddly to do, I'm looking forward to trying this one soon though!

    cupcakesisters's picture

    When i did it, i put them at an angle so that one of the edges of the heart was touching the batter i found this made it easier to make sure they stood together in a line and didn't move around too much

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