A colleague of mine, Gerard is leaving for New Zealand and we had a leaving tea party for him today. I wanted to make something extra special and decided on a giant cupcake. I was really excited to try out new recipes from my fantastic new book, the Love Bakery cookbook (highly recommended). I have already made a few cupcakes from them which were a huge success and I will post about them a later date.
The flavour for the cake was inspired by this month's we should cocoa challenge - chocolate and caramel. I have been making caramel for a few other cakes recently so didn't anticipate too many problems. How wrong was I?
Caramel can be tricky and I've tried many different recipes and each time they turn out differently (even if i use the same recipe!). For this cake, I made a caramel sauce using a recipe from the primrose bakery and a caramel buttercream icing also from the same book.
The caramel sauce was slightly lumpy but I think it turned out ok in the end. I added some sea salt to make it a salted caramel and it was delicious! The caramel buttercream was a bit too runny for me to pipe on the cake- I had great plans for piping! I wanted to colour the icing red and blue (NZ flag colours) and pipe it as shown in the book. As always, improvisation is the key! The icing did actually firm up overnight but I was in a bit of a rush so I covered the cake in icing and then used crushed Dime bars for the topping. I then used mini fudge pieces to decorate the bottom but I ran out so I used chocolate chips. Finally I put a row of chocolate beans around the middle. I am really pleased with the final result even though it was not how I originally envisioned it to be. That's half the fun of baking though, isn't it?
However the problem came when it was time to cut the cake. The caramel sauce had hardened in the middle making it very difficult to cut through! Note to self - do not put caramel sauce in the middle of the cake! Everyone loved the cake though so it all worked out in the end :)
GOOD BYE AND GOOD LUCK GERARD !
Cupcake (recipe from the Love Bakery)
Butter for greasing
6 eggs, separated
240g caster sugar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
240g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50g cocoa powder, sifted (optional)
Caramel Sauce (from primrose bakery)
250g golden caster sugar
sea salt (optional)
Caramel Buttercream Icing (from primrose bakery)
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
220g light, soft brown sugar
240g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
double cream, as needed
To make the giant cupcake
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Grease the cupcake tin and lightly sprinkle with flour.
- Whisk the egg whites in the electric mixer until they form stiff peaks.
- Add the caster sugar and mix for 3-4 minutes, and then add the egg yolks, one by one, and mix after each addition.
- Add the oil, a tablespoonful at a time, and mix thoroughly.
- Turn the mixer to minimum speed and slowly add the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, if using.
- Using a tablespoon, very gently fold the mixture together to avoid knocking out any of the air.
- Divide the mixture equally between the 2 parts of the tin and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and immediately turn out on a wire rack.
- Leave to cool.
To make caramel sauce
- Put the sugar and 5 tablespoons of the measured water in a heavy saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Increase the heat and cook over a high heat for about 10 minutes, after which the mixture should be dark amber in colour.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
- Stir gently to help it cool but take great care as the sugar is extremely hot - this might be best done by holding the pan away from you over a sink.
- Add sea salt at this point if using - approximately 1 teaspoon or to taste.
- Once the mixture has cooled slightly, add the remaining water to the mix and continue stirring.
- Again hold the pan away from you when adding the water as it may spatter.
- When the sauce is completely cool, pour into a bowl and cover until ready to use.
For the caramel buttercream icing
- Place the butter, milk and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over a high heat and stir to combine.
- Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, and allow it to boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat and stir in half of the icing sugar.
- Leave the mixture to cool slightly, then add the remainder of the icing sugar and the vanilla extract and stir until it thickens to the desired consistency.
- The icing is best used immediately. If you do need to make it in advance, or if you have some left over, thin it will a little double cream and beat well before using.