You may have noticed that I spelt ‘leche’ wrong in the title, it was intentional because this is a birthday cake for a good friend whose surname is Lesche. I couldn’t resist. *sniggers*.
Anywayyyyyy, it’s a caramel cake with an absolutely to-die-for brown butter frosting. Anything brown butter, along with anything salted caramel is a winner in my opinion. This recipe happens to combine the two. The cake recipe is another adaptation of a Hummingbird Bakery recipe and is actually just the vanilla cake from my first post with the addition of Dulce de Leche. Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature before starting. I made the cakes the night before I needed them, purely to save time. Halfway through the bake, I got inspired by Ben&Jerry’s. The girl whose cake this is has a serious weakness for ice cream and her favourite is the ‘Blondie Brownie’ one with a gooey salted caramel core… So obviously I put a gooey salted caramel core in the cake. It worked, it was glorious.
If you know me then you know that I put salted caramel in to EVERYTHING. It’s a major part of my life according to one of my friends. This time was no exception, why have plain, boring éclairs when they have the potential to taste so much better? I mean I only made subtle changes but I definitely think it’s worth it if you’re trying to impress.
Éclairs are made from choux pastry, the same stuff that makes profiteroles and churros and it sounds much harder than it is. I experimented this time and used strong white flour instead of plain flour for the higher gluten content and hopefully stronger structure. It worked, the éclairs were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and there were no collapsed éclairs – success. Collapsed éclairs occur for a couple of reasons, usually under-baking and opening the oven door during baking. Éclairs have no rising agent and rely on steam to puff them up so they can be pretty unpredictable. Set aside a couple of hours one cold afternoon and bake up a batch. Experiment with flavours and fillings as much as you like 🙂
So I’ve been playing around with this thought in my head for a while now, and I thought now was as good a time as any to give it a shot. I knew what I wanted: a simple chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a swirl of nutella with one of those tiny breadsticks in. But (there’s always a but) for some reason or another I decided to use a different chocolate cupcake recipe to my usual failsafe recipe and the Primrose Bakery Cookbook was sat on my kitchen counter staring at me. Part of me decided to go with a new recipe out of guilt, I’ve had this book for months and haven’t made a single thing out of it yet. Low and behold I found myself flicking through looking for the chocolate cupcake recipe. Let’s just say I looked at it and groaned. It was unnecessarily complicated. I had all of the ingredients so I made a start anyway despite how unappealing and convoluted the process looked. Complaining aside, they were super light and fluffy and everyone liked them so here’s the recipe anyway.
Happy 5th November everyone! I was thinking about what to make for Bonfire night earlier and the obvious suggestion was toffee. Only no one really eats toffee these days, it’s really hard to chew and stuff so yeah I went for fudge. Everyone loves fudge. And oreos. As soon as you mention the word ‘oreo’ in the vicinity of students their senses become heightened and they possess almost primitive instincts. I didn’t really know where I was going with the whole oreo fudge thing when I started making them, I had an idea in my head but execution was one of those ‘let’s see what happens’ kinda things. The base of the recipe revolved around carnation condensed milk, and their basic fudge recipe. I should probably stress it’s A LOT easier as a two man job, there’s a lot to do and short time frames so find someone to help!
These cookies legit have tear inducing properties. It’s true. It’s happened before. Someone had one and cried with happiness. It was then I knew I was on to a winner with these ones. Also, they always get looooads of instagram likes and whatever the instagram people ‘like’ goes, right??
Anyway, so they’re inspired by Ben’s Cookies. Mmm Ben’s Cookies… Ben’s Cookies are from London, they’re dotted around all over the city and no visit is complete without them. The recipe is compiled from a million different cookie recipes and a bit of trial and error. They’re big and thick and chunky and soft. The secret? Under-baking. People always ask how I make cookies soft and chewy and then get confused when I say I bake them for 8-10 minutes. Cookies are not cakes, they don’t have to be firm and springy when you take them out of the oven, they harden up when you take them out so baking them for too long gives you dry and brittle cookies.
This is the frosting I use most frequently, and for most things. I wouldn’t say it’s a buttercream because it has barely any butter in it (compared to other buttercreams). It’s also one of those things that I make by eye but I’ve included some rough guidelines to help you on your way 🙂
Makes enough to frost 18-20 cupcakes or a layer cake
500g icing sugar
A few splashes of milk
In a mixer, beat the butter until it’s soft. Add the icing sugar in stages, otherwise it goes everywhere (it still goes everywhere but less so if you do it this way). The mixture should be dry and there should be lumps of butter among the icing sugar. Add a tablespoon or two of milk, the mixture should combine to give a smooth, thick frosting. Add more milk if you would like a runnier frosting but if you’re piping the frosting then keep in mind a stiffer consistency will hold up better.
If you would like to make chocolate frosting, replace 100g of icing sugar with 100g of cocoa powder. Then follow the same process.
For vanilla frosting, add a teaspoon or so of good quality vanilla extract, or the seeds of a vanilla pod as you add the milk.
Ganache is an essential. It’s used in many different things and it’s super easy to make. If it goes wrong, it’s fairly easy to salvage. If it starts to split and go horribly wrong (this happens if you use low quality chocolate, it’s ALLLLL about the cocoa solids) then give it a quick whisk with an electric mixer until smooth and glossy. If that doesn’t work then try adding a teaspoon of liquid glucose, I appreciate most people would have no need for that in their pantry but who knows, you might be an avid molten sugar artist?
200g good quality dark, white or milk chocolate (for a plain chocolate ganache, use a combination of dark and milk)
284ml (small) pot double cream
1-2tbsp golden caster sugar (optional)
Chop the chocolate in to fine pieces, the finer the better, and set aside in a glass bowl. Heat the cream (and sugar if using) in a pan until it’s simmering and about to boil. Take the cream off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let the whole thing sit for just a minute and then stir the mixture until all of the chocolate melts in to the cream. It will melt. Be patient and don’t underestimate the residual heat of the cream. You should be left with a glossy ganache. Chill in the fridge until firm/desired consistency.
If you’re using ganache to ice a cake then I suggest whipping it before you use it as it becomes much lighter and easier to work with.