Well it's four days since the festive season abandoned us for another year, but I have a few things which I should/could have posted just before or just after the twelve days, which means, as most of us do at Christmas, there are leftover...
First up, so that I can finally work out and write down the mad combination of recipes I used and changes in measurements from cups to grams, is my big sisters birthday cake from back in November. No it's not a cat cake, like my little sisters, and it looks a little less than beautiful, but the picture was taken two or three pieces before it was finished, so actually you're lucky there was a picture at all because it was yummy!
Plus I disobeyed my own rule about sticking to a recipe my sister and I know and just altering the icing flavouring. Instead I was using one recipe for the cake, another for timings and about twelve trying to work out icing...plus I made the most terrible salted caramel sauce. I burnt it and over salted it and then I made up for by doing my first ever attempt at sugar spirals which kind of melted in the fridge...
(Did I mention seeing Sarah and I normal share birthday baking drama, seeing it was her birthday, I was alone on this one!)
But in the end, I made her a Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake based on a recipe from Java Cupcake, with slightly drooping sugar spirals and without burning down the kitchen or using the grill*.
Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake
Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake from Java Cupcake:
- Unsalted butter, softened - 113g (1/2 cup)
- Caster Sugar - 225g (1 cup)
- Dark Brown Sugar (firmly packed) - 150g (3/4 cup)
- Large Eggs, room temperature - 3
- Vanilla Bean Paste - 1 tsp
- Plain Flour - 250g (2 cups)
- Buttermilk, room temperature - 245g (236 ml or 1 cup)
- Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) - 1 tsp
- White Vinegar - 1 tsp
- Prepare an 8 inch loose bottom cake tin by buttering and lining with baking paper.
- Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F / Gas Mark 4)
- In a bowl or stand mixer cream together the butter and brown and caster sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to mix until they're incorporated (don't panic if it becomes lumpy, just keep beating and it will come back together and keep scraping down the sides to make sure everything is incorporated.)
- Mix in the Vanilla Bean Paste (you can use extract or essence too, but I like the paste's flavour and speckles from the seeds - adjust the quantity to the vanilla you choose)
- Alternate between adding the flour and the buttermilk until you combined.
- In a separate container mix together the baking soda and vinegar together, then add this to the cake batter and mix to incorporate. Don't over mix! (No I had no real idea what this meant either, but just give it a good quick stir together and keep your fingers crossed!)
- Put the batter into the lined cake pan, smooth the top and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the middle of the cake (I use a metal skewer as I never have toothpicks and keep an eye of the cake for this reason - the original recipe uses three separate tins and it takes 20 minutes, I did it in one tin and sliced it, so it takes longer).
- Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
Caramel Buttercream Icing (with a confession).
I totally messed up making caramel sauce, so I used a tin of Carnations Caramel Sauce, then just added a little salt to it to make it salted. I'm not ashamed of this cheat, mine was bogging!
- Unsalted Butter - 226g
- Icing Sugar - 375g
- Caramel Sauce - 1/2 Cup (I can't remember! I think I panicked and just added it bit by bit until it tasted right!)
- Pinch or two of Salt
- In a bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and slowly and gradually add the icing sugar.
- Once the mix starts to stiffen start mixing in the caramel sauce to slacken the mixture and keep mixing until all of the icing sugar are incorporated.
- Taste it! Seriously, the best way to know if it's right is to try it. Especially as I can't remember how much caramel sauce I added. But if it's not caramelly enough, add some more (or some lovely caramel syrup you can buy for your coffee - om nom), like it a little saltier, add more salt, if it's too loose add a little more sugar, too stiff some more caramel, or even a little milk to slacken it.
- Split your cake into two or three layers.
- Spread the inside layer of your cake with a generous amount of icing.
- Spread the remaining caramel sauce over the layer of icing and either place the next layer and repeat, or replace the top onto your cake.
- Crumb coating. The quantity for icing is for the centre, side and top of the cake but crumb coating is where you put a thin layer of the icing around the sides and top of the cake, place it in the fridge and allow it to set hard before putting your final thicker outer coating of icing on. This captures any crumbs and stops you getting those annoying crumbs from appearing on the outside of your cake and stopping it looking crumby. Pun absolutely intended.
So that's it, decorate it however you like, like I said, I attempted spun sugar spirals, which half worked but left four pans around the kitchen with various amounts and colours of melted sugar at the bottom of them and a load of spoons and stringy bits of sugar around worktop. It was a mess, but it was a really yummy cake. And while the Java Cupcake recipe suggests it's really decadent, it wasn't teeth tingly sweet. The sponge was lovely and moist and again not too sweet (it also wasn't dense which my photo might suggest, but it was cold in the fridge and it had performance issues) and the icing, which while my sister could have been saltier given I'd advertised it as a Salted Caramel Cake, was actually quite delicate.
Definitely a successful birthday cake.
Now I have to make the little sister monster, a caramel apple cake and try and make it taste like one we used to get at a café, in a garden centre, well over a decade ago. That was good cake.
* I grilled a cake once in college. I couldn't understand why it wasn't rising and then realised I'd switched our top oven to grill instead of oven. My sisters have never let me forget that and it entertained my friend Kevin, from college, no end when he asked how my weekend was and I explained why I needed to make two birthday cakes... bugger teased me for that until the day we graduated!
Link | Salted Caramel Layer Cake by Java Cupcake
Listening: Sexx Laws - Beck