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.
For the cake:
80g salted butter, softened
280g golden caster sugar
240g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee (you can leave this out, it just intensifies the flavour)
2 large eggs
150g dulce de leche (I used carnation caramel)
For the frosting:
160g browned butter
500g icing sugar
For the salted caramel core:
Rest of Dulce de Leche tin
Good quality sea-salt to taste
100g icing sugar
For the spun sugar topping:
100g golden caster sugar
Preheat your oven to 170°FAN. Line a 7/8inch sandwich tin with baking parchment and grease the sides. This recipe yields about 3 cakes, I only have one tin so I baked them all separately.
In a large bowl, add your butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and mix together to a fine breadcrumb consistency. In a measuring jug, measure out the milk and stir in the vanilla extract and coffee. Whisk the eggs lightly in to the milk mixture and pour it in to the dry mixture gradually, mixing well and incorporating all of the ingredients. Add the caramel to the cake batter and mix until it is all smooth.
Spoon a third of the cake batter in to your cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake springs back lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. Repeat with the remaining cake batter twice.
Let your cakes cool completely on a wire rack before frosting them. TIP – leaving them to cool upside down gives you flat layers.
For the frosting, you need to brown the butter first. Take the butter in a saucepan and heat it on medium heat until it melts, keep stirring and heating and you’ll notice a gradual change in colour. It takes about 10 minutes of foaming and stirring for it to turn in to a golden buttery colour with flecks of darker solids. And it smells AMAZING. Like nutty, buttery goodness. Take it off the heat at this point to avoid burning and pour in to a bowl. Let the browned butter cool and set in the fridge before using.
When you are ready to make the frosting, put the browned butter in to a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until paler and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and it should resemble fine crumbs. Add the milk very gradually until it all comes together. Give it a final beating and fill a piping bag with a large star tip nozzle.
To make the salted caramel, simply mix together the dulce de leche and icing sugar. Sprinkle in the sea salt and give it a final mix.
To assemble the cake, make sure all your cake layers are even. Start with the first cake and pipe a ring of large swirls of brown butter frosting around the outside. Spoon the salted caramel sauce in to the middle of the piped swirls and ensure it’s all levelled out. Top with chocolate curls/grated chocolate before placing the second layer on top. Repeat the process again for the second and final layer. I topped my cake with bits of hershey’s kisses, meringue, red sugar crystals, chocolate curls and lots of spun sugar. You can decorate yours however you like.
For the spun sugar, heat the golden caster sugar in a saucepan on high heat until it starts to melt. Don’t be tempted to rush this process, sugar is very temperamental. Once the sugar has melted, take it off the heat and be very careful. It’s very very hot and you will probably burn yourself at least once during the process. With a fork, slowly lift up the sugar until it’s cool enough to form a strand when you move the fork. At this point, you can either pull the sugar with your fingers to form strands or line a baking tray with baking parchment and place a lightly greased rolling pin on top. You can then move the fork backwards and forwards over the rolling pin until you have obtained spun sugar strands. It’s a difficult technique and takes lots of practice to get right but it’s worth it for the overall look.
It’s a good idea to spin the sugar just before you need to serve the cake as it does disintegrate fairly quickly. You can use normal caster sugar but I think the darker colour goes really well with the cake.