Salted caramel & vanilla cake

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Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that I very rarely if at all post things like cakes, cookies and desserts. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking cakes and things because its so measured and I love just throwing stuff together, grabbed by ideas and inspiration. Baking is a little too formulaic for me – but I reckon it takes a lot more skill because it’s much more obvious when things go wrong!

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However, sometimes you’ve just got to bake a cake. The occasion for this cake is a wedding. My lovely friends Ellie and Luke got hitched up in Leamington Spa this weekend and asked those who wanted to to contribute a homemade cake – well, I just had to!

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So because I’m a little out of practice and out of my depth with cakes, I had no idea what to make. I stumbled around the ideas of lemon drizzle, cheesecakes and Victoria sponges, but they all felt a bit too traditional, a little predictable and not special enough. I needed something simple enough that I wouldn’t mess it up but with a little extra something to set it apart from a generic cake.

So I found a recipe for a salted caramel cake via Pinterest – but the recipe was all in cups and sticks and tablespoons of butter (no idea how you measure butter in its solid state, as specified, using a spoon!) and as soon as I started measuring out the ingredients I had about three times as much sugar as butter. Hmm. I’m no cake whizz but even I know it should be equal quantities of sugar, flour and butter for a basic sponge.

So halfway through I grabbed my Great British Bake Off book and used Mary Berry’s Victoria Sponge recipe as a measurements template instead – but ramped up the quantities of vanilla, turning it into the perfect sweet and spicy base for the salty caramel sauce.

Although I was playing it pretty safe with a sponge cake, I was pretty scared about making this caramel. I’ve never made caramel before but was so shocked that it was so easy! I was fully expecting to burn it and ruin a pan but no.

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The wedding was absolutely fantastic – emotional, beautiful, and a lot of fun with lovely speeches, handmade decorations and tasty food. We had an afternoon tea (this is where the cake comes in – and it seemed to go down a treat!) after the ceremony, followed by a delicious hog roast later on in the evening. There were some other fantastic offerings – lime and poppyseed muffins and a super moist vegan chocolate cake.

Brilliant wedding, great cake – a pretty good weekend indeed!

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You will need:

For the cake:

250g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
4 medium eggs
1 tablespoon (yes!) of vanilla extract
250g self raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
1-2 tbspn whole milk
Plus: gold glitter spray, edible rose petals, caramel chocolate buttons or anything else you want to decorate it!

For the buttercream icing:

700g icing sugar
150g butter
A few tablespoons of whole milk (as needed)
1 tbspn salted caramel sauce (see below)

For the salted caramel sauce:

(A note – this will probably leave you with a little extra. I actually made double this quantity and have LOADS left. I’ll save it for drizzling on ice cream!)

150g caster sugar
A tablespoons of water
30g butter, cubed
75ml double cream
1/4 – 1/2 Tspn salt (to taste)

Method:

1 – Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
2 – Make the cake mix by beating together the butter and sugar in the large bowl until fluffy
3 – Beat in the eggs, one by one, then the vanilla and milk
4 – Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold it into the butter/sugar/egg mix using a metal spoon
5 – Line and butter two cake tins and spoon the mixture evenly into each, flattening and smoothing the mix down with a spoon or spatula
6 – Bake the cakes on the same shelf of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and spongey to the touch
7 – Cool the cakes on a wire rack while you make your caramel sauce
8 – To make the sauce, put the sugar in a big-Ish saucepan with the water and cook over a medium heat for around 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and turns into a dark amber liquid
9 – Take the caramel off the heat and immediately whisk in the butter (careful, it will bubble up) and cream
10 – Transfer the caramel sauce carefully into a bowl or jug and wash your saucepan now!
11 – Once cooled (this will take a good half an hour) add the salt to the caramel and taste, adding more salt if desired
12 – Once the cakes and caramel are completely cool, make your butter cream by beating together the butter, tbspn of caramel and icing sugar with enough milk to form a stuff but creamy icing
13 – Assemble the cake by placing one layer on a serving platter and stabbing it gently with a fork all over; pour caramel sauce on top, to cover
14 – Now add a generous layer of buttercream, followed by more caramel
15 – Place the other cake on top and another the whole thing with the remaining buttercream
16 – Spray on glitter or decorate as desired

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