It’s a new year and it’s time to focus more on Sugar Spun. Unfortunately although I started out in 2016 with good intentions, life and travelling got in the way. Now I have moved house I’m ready to get back on the wagon again – starting with a first for me.
Ok, so what would you do if you were trying to wrap up work as you’re leaving, packing to move house and trying to arrange and record interviews for your other website? I know – organise a bake-off at work and decide to make something you have never baked before! Sounds sensible, right? Well that’s what I did, because I am clearly insane.
A long while back I bought a set of Wilton layer cake pans from Lakeland when they were on sale. I thought I would give myself a challenge but they ended up just sat in my cupboard because 1. I don’t have a real reason to bake what I consider to be large cakes and 2. baking large cakes scares me. But with the office bake-off looming I decided to get them out and go a bit mental. This is not a quick cake to make so just a heads up. You might want to make this over two days, cake on one and icing on another. I did it in one day and took about 5 hours. But then, I’d never made it before!
A chocolate caramel layer cake. That was the plan. And I did it. Here’s how:
Cake recipe adapted from a Prima magazine recipe. Buttercream is my own recipe.
For the cake:
- 135g plain chocolate
- 135g butter
- 330ml milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp (15g) cocoa powder
- 400g self-raising flour
- 5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 300g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbs cocoa
For the buttercream:
- 1kg icing sugar
- 250g unsalted butter
- 2tbsp Carnation caramel (or more until you’re happy)
- Milk / double cream to adjust consistency (I use double cream if I don’t need a lot as it has a creamier finish although double cream will thicken on whisking. If you need to loosen a lot use milk.)
For the ganache drip:
- 100ml double cream
- 100g dark chocolate
- Rolos for decoration
- A bar of chocolate to curl
- Additional Carnation caramel to spread on 3 layers of cake (+/- 3 tbsp)
For the cake:
- Pre-heat your oven to 160⁰C (fan)/ 180⁰C
- Line your cake tins. I lined the bottom and greased the sides so the cake could be removed easily as the pans are thin.
- Melt 135g plain chocolate with 65g of butter. Do this via bain marie method or microwave – if using the microwave be careful as the chocolate can seize (it can also seize if you accidentally add water). Stir in the remaining 70g butter and mix.
- In a separate jug mix the milk and the lemon juice
- Add the other dry ingredients and eggs to a large mixing bowl and pour in the milk and chocolate mixes. Beat until smooth.
- Divide the mixture between the four pans. Note: this mixture may only just cover the base of your pans but I assure you there will be enough mix for this!
- Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Beware chocolate cake can dry out quickly so check after 5 minutes to get an idea of how fast it’s cooking.
- Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin. If your cake has risen into a dome place it dome-side down on a board or rack to cool. Do this for all cakes. You can also weight them with some boards to help flatten them, ready for stacking.
- If icing the next day, after cooling wrap your cakes in some kind of wrapping film and put aside for the next day. Do not freeze this cake it is too thin and will be too dry once defrosted.
For the buttercream:
- Put the butter in your mixing bowl with a drop of milk and slowly mix the icing sugar in, a bit at a time. Add 2 tbp of caramel (or your desired amount) and mix.
- Soften the mix until it’s at a spreadable consistency by adding double cream or milk.
You are now ready to assemble your cake!
- Place the bottom layer of the cake on a board or flat plate of your choice dome side down. Evenly spread a thin layer of caramel (this will also help keep the cake moist) and then a layer of buttercream. Remember the three other layers of cake will weigh this layer down so don’t get carried away or you’ll have caramel and buttercream everywhere!
- Repeat for the following two layers.
- For the top layer, simply place the sponge dome side down so you have a flat top, no additional caramel or butter cream is required. Your cake is made!
- If your sponge is sturdy enough you can now crumb coat it. This is simply a thin layer of buttercream to bind all the cake crumbs. Then you can put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Next, add a thicker layer of buttercream to the top (make sure you leave some buttercream for decorating the top of the cake) and edges and smooth out the best you can. Then pop it back in the freezer for about 15 minutes so the buttercream can become firm.
- Once the buttercream has set, run a palette knife under a hot tap and smooth the edges out to give your buttercream a final finish. Now pop back into the freezer for at least another 20 minutes.
- Heat up your cream (preferably on a hob), when it starts bubbling take it off the heat and break your chocolate into it. Stir until smooth. Let cool until the consistency starts to thicken slightly.
- While your ganache is slightly cooling take a bar of chocolate (milk or dark) and heat it for 10 seconds in a microwave. Then use a peeler to create chocolate curls. Your chocolate must be slightly soft to do this! Put aside for later.
- Take your cake out of the freezer and pour your ganache over the top of it. Make sure the ganache drips slightly over the sides. You will see the coldness of the cake set the ganache as you pour it so you will need to work fast and pour from the centre of the cake.
- Now you can use the remainder of your buttercream to decorate the ganache with rosettes, finishing off with adorning your cake with chocolate curls and topping each rosette with a Rolo.