I was doing so well on keeping the blog updated, but then I had a disappointing weekend of baking and cooking. One bad batch of banana muffins would be unfortunate enough, but a perfectly good soy salmon that I’ve made successfully in the past was also ruined. What a waste.
That weekend was followed by a weekend in Scotland with lots of eating and very little cooking (i.e. none whatsoever). Great food though: gloriously fresh fish in The Creel Inn; a mixture of tasters and cocktails in Soul (I love well-converted churches, and this was lovely but its popularity was to the detriment of the service); and sushi in Ichiban. Sushi is my favourite and this was delicious, although it reminded me of Wagamama and in doing so, of my post-New Year’s food poisoning. Moving on….here are a couple of pictures before I get to the recipe du jour.
First of all, the beautiful Dunnotter Castle:
Then the lovely ladies on our stony perch (a bit blurry, but I’ll update it when the originals are available):
Anyhoo, off with the waffling and on to the cake. Jamie Oliver brought out this little recipe book for Comic Relief a couple of years ago and it contains quality stuff. Plus it’s for charity. Definitely something worth looking into as a fundraiser.
Sea Salt and Caramel Chocolate Cake
The first time I made this, I absolutely nailed the peanut butter brittle on top, so much so that I made extra and brought it along to last year’s Belgian National Day to consume with a bottle of prosecco while watching the fireworks. The last time, I used too high a heat, stirred the mix (both big no-nos according to Jamie) and ended up with golden syrup with peanuts in it. Not the end of the world – I put it in a bowl on the table and everyone drizzled it over their slices of cake. Happy days.
225g butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
225g caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g caramel sauce (finding this in A.M. Sweet on Rue des Chartreux (no.4) was the deciding factor in making this cake)
1 tsp sea salt
200ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways with seeds scraped out
For peanut brittle:
450g caster sugar
200g unsalted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add cocoa, eggs, flour and baking powder and mix well.
Spoon mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. Insert a skewer after 40 minutes; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the brittle, put the sugar and 200ml of water into a pan on a medium (not hot) for about 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and after 10-15 minutes, the sugar will begin to caramelise. Add the peanuts.
Don’t touch or try to taste the caramel and don’t stir it, just gently swirl the pan every now and then.
When it turns a caramelly colour, pour on to a greased non-stick tray and use a palette knife or spatula to push it out so that it is about 0.5cm thick. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes and when it is solid, smash it up.
Once the cake is cool, score it on the outside with a long knife and then cut it until you have two even halves.
For the fillings, mix the caramel sauce with the sea salt and spread over the cut side of the bottom half of the cake. Whisk the cream with the vanilla seeds, then spoon on top of the layer of salted caramel. Place the top half of the cake on top, then dust with cocoa powder and the (hopefully) crushed peanut brittle.
Caoimhe made this cake and couldn’t get her hands on the caramel sauce. She made her own sauce and kindly added the recipe to the contents. I’ll definitely give it a try next time, it will definitely be cheaper than buying a jar of the stuff.
For the caramel sauce I used a recipe for the carmel topping of wellington squares I have in a cookbook I bought in Canada many moons ago. In the end I didn’t use all the sauce, but I probably could have, as the sauce is my favourite part of this cake… You will see my measures are a bit weird as I adjusted them to suit the volume of the condensed milk tin I got in the Carrefour.
Here is the recipe:
c.300 ml tin of condensed milk
3 oz butter
2/3 of a 1/3 cup of caster sugar
2/3 of a 1/3 cup of golden syrup (although really you could go for 1/3 cup as so much of the syrup sticks to the cup)
I also added a little over half a tsp of sea salt, though again I’d say I could have gone for more, was just afraid of it being too too salty.
Melt all the above over low heat for about 15 mins until caramel is smooth, thick and lightly browned. Mine turned out a little lumpy so I blended it with the hand blender for a few secs and turned out great.