Tea and toast. Cheese and crackers. Coffee and cake. Some pairings are just meant to be. But caramel makes everything better right?
If I’m not keeping it simple with an americano, my Starbucks order is always a caramel macchiato. The strong coffee mixed with vanilla and caramel just works so well. And why not turn the things you love into cake?!
I think coffee cake is really underrated. Usually paired with walnuts and a sickly sweet buttercream, it just doesn’t do it justice. This cake though is paired with the dreamiest silkiest buttercream you ever did taste. Its a classic swiss meringue buttercream with 175ml of glorious caramel. AHH. I could just eat the buttercream from the bowl. It was my first time using my KMix to make buttercream and oh god the difference. It just made it so light, and even easier to spread on the finished cake.
But, back to the cake! The sponge has instant coffee, a full cup of freshly brewed coffee AND a coffee soak to add when baked. So you could say I like coffee… though the caramel SMB cuts through it all to balance the bitterness out. Now I couldn’t call it a caramel macchiato cake without the signature caramel topping could I? I popped some caramel into a piping bag and went to TOWN. I promise you though, the cake really isn’t as sweet as it sounds with all that caramel flying around. I think thats why I love swiss meringue buttercream so much. It may be richer than regular buttercream with the additional butter, but its so much less sweet! No teeth-grinding icing sugar round here thank you very much.
The whole cake was actually surprisingly quick to make, I made it in an afternoon last weekend and I was enjoying a slice after dinner. I also didn’t make my own caramel for once, as it was a spontaneous bake and that sped the process up! I used a jar of Bonne Maman’s caramel and its really delicious if you fancy being lazy too. If not, my recipe for salted caramel here would work really well, just remember to omit the salt. Although salted caramel buttercream with coffee would be delicious too!
Let me know if you try it, it’s the perfect Sunday afternoon treat with, you guessed it, a cup of coffee!
Firstly, preheat the oven to 175C/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line three 8-inch cake tins.
In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder and set aside.
Then using an electric mixer, beat the butter for a few minutes until smooth. Add both the sugars and increase the speed to medium-high. Keep mixing until the butter and sugars are creamed together and the mixture is light and fluffy.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla extract followed by the eggs one at a time making sure they are each fully incorporated.
Then in alternating batches, add in half of the dry ingredients, the whole milk and the remaining dry ingredients mixing on low in between. Only mix until the batter is just combined. Then with the mixer on low, stream in the hot coffee and mix until smooth.
Evenly distribute the batter between the three pans, and bake for 24-26 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the tins for 10 minutes on a wire rack, before removing the cakes from the tins.
For the coffee soak, pour all the ingredients into a saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a slight boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool until ready to use.
For the swiss meringue buttercream, place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and gently whisk by hand to combine. Then place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisking occasionally heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160F (70C) on a candy thermometer. Once you've reached the right temperature, take the bowl off the heat and fit onto a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the bowl should have reached room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk attachment out for the paddle.
Then with the mixer on low, add in the butter a few cubes at a time, then the vanilla and finally the caramel. Once all incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 3-5 minutes until the buttercream is silky smooth.
To assemble the cake, place one of the sponges onto your serving plate, brush liberally with the coffee soak and spread on 1/4 of the buttercream. Repeat with the next sponge, and then place the final sponge on top brushing with the remaining coffee soak. Cover the entire cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing or swirling as desired. Finally place the remaining caramel into a piping bag and drizzle over back and forth.
I’m backkkkkk! Sorry for the month hiatus, it wasn’t intentional! Who knew January was so busy!? I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year though! I’m back with a french classic and one of my favourite treats ever! A pistachio & raspberry financier.
I first came across the financier when I worked in London Bridge. I used to walk through Borough Market on my lunch break and would have to fight the urge to buy everything!! My favourite stall there was called Comptoir Gourmand and they sold the most wonderful array of french cakes and pastries, including a vibrant green pistachio financier. It was the best thing, my mouths watering even thinking of it!
I love the dense moist texture, and the pistachio flavour just works so well. I’d always had it on my mental ‘to-bake’ list and I finally ticked it off last week! So a little history lesson for you here, the financier was created by a Parisian baker who worked in the financial district of the city. He wanted to create a bake for his customers that they could eat on the go and wouldn’t be crumbly and messy like a croissant. And so the financier was born. The name makes sense now right? Just to add to their banking background they are also traditionally made in a rectangular shape to resemble a ‘gold bar’. Obviously, this only really works if you stick to the original recipe and don’t turn them green!
Pistachio and raspberry is one of my favourite flavour combinations, and the fresh raspberries in these financiers give such a tart hit. Financiers are actually really easy to make, and you can keep the dough chilled in the fridge for up to three days which is perfect if you want to prep ahead. And means you can impress visitors by having a fresh batch of cakes whipped up in minutes! I made 12 small cakes, but you could make 6 large instead – and actually I think next time I would just make the 6. Quality over quantity ya know?
For the recipe I used a 50:50 ratio of ground almonds and ground pistachios. As I was adapting a recipe I didn’t want the pistachio’s higher fat content to change the bake too much. Now I’ve not seen ground pistachios in any supermarkets round me (though I have seen Sainsburys stocking ground hazelnuts which is exciting!), so I just blitzed my own. I was worried that the nuts might release too much oil as I blitzed, but actually it was fine and got to the same consistency as supermarket ground almonds really quickly.
One key step to the financiers is to brown the butter, which essentially means to heat the butter in a saucepan until it turns a golden brown colour. This gives a wonderfully nutty flavour to the bake which I think is so unique.
I think these are a delight with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The perfect bake for the miserably cold days we’ve been having recently!
Heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat and cook until the butter has foamed and then turned golden brown. This will take a little while, so stick with it. Pour the browned butter into a small heatproof bowl and set aside.
Put the ground almonds, ground pistachios, flour, icing sugar and salt in a bowl and mix together until combined. Then add the egg whites and vanilla extract and stir to form a thick paste. Pour in the slightly cooled butter and stir until you have a smooth batter. Press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface of the batter and put into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours before baking.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 and lightly grease your mini-loaf pans or place your mini-loaf cases onto a baking tray. Spoon the batter evenly into the pans/cases, filling them half full. Press 4 quarters of a raspberry into each financier and top with chopped pistachios. Bake for 12-15 minutes until they have started to brown around the edges. Leave to cool in the pans for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely, or just place the cases onto the wire rack straight away to cool.
Batter can be kept covered in the fridge for up to three days before baking.
Financiers keep up to two days in an air tight container, but taste best on the day of baking.
Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake. Is there anything better? I mean even Rihanna released a song about it….! But Birthday Cake probably tips the scale! I made this raspberry and almond layer cake for my mum’s birthday last weekend. Fresh raspberries gave the tang, ground almonds made it super moist and the buttercream and sprinkles made it extra birthdayish! Who says sprinkles are only for kids?!
Almond and raspberry is SUCH a classic combination and one of mums favourite flavours so I knew I wanted to incorporate that in the cake. I ended up baking fresh raspberries in the sponge, which gave such a good tart hit. I added ground almonds too which made the sponge extra moist, AND I added two teaspoons of almond extract to give it that extra punch. I can never have enough almond, but feel free to reduce it to one teaspoon if you’re not as obsessive as I am!
I’m still so obsessed with swiss meringue buttercream and the silky effect it creates. I love how the swirls on top almost look like a 99 ice cream you’d get when you were little! I went for vanilla to complement the raspberry and almond but not overpower it. Though you’d be forgiven for thinking the buttercream was mint or pistachio flavoured with the mint green hue. That was just a mistake! I was trying to make my buttercream whiter, so I added in (what I thought was) a tiny drop of blue food colouring. As you can tell, that plan didn’t quite work out. But, I’m actually pretty happy with the colour in the end! It encapsulates the childhood birthday cake style I was looking for!
Filling wise, I decided to go classic birthday cake and use jam and buttercream. I used the buttercream as a dam around the edge of the cake, and then filled the centre with raspberry jam – Bonne Maman to be exact, only the best! I’m so glad I did to, as the tartness of the jam worked so well in cutting through the rich buttercream.
The sprinkles were much harder to add on than I imagined, so learn from my mistake and if you have a tilting turntable use it to its full advantage to stick them on! I on the other hand ended up essentially chucking the sprinkles at the cake and finding them all over my kitchen instead….!
All in all, taste wise this is one of the best cakes I’ve made (if I do say so myself)! So if you’re a fan of raspberry and almond definitely give it a try! Also, give my timelapse video below a watch where you can see me assemble the cake
305g cake flour (if you can't find cake flour use plain flour, and substitute 4tbsp of the plain flour for 4tbsp cornflour)
100g ground almonds
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400g caster sugar
2tsp almond extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
150ml large egg whites
250g caster sugar
450g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2tsp vanilla extract
1/2tsp blue gel food colouring (if using)
200g raspberry jam
Firstly, preheat the oven to 175C/ Gas Mark 4 and grease and line three 8" baking tins.
In a small bowl sift together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Toss the raspberries in one tablespoon of the flour mix, and set both aside.
In a pyrex bowl beat the butter with a hand mixer until smooth and lightened in colour. Then add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, this will take a few minutes. Add the almond extract and then add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Then with the mixer on low, add the flour mix in three batches alternating with the buttermilk. Ensure you begin and end with the flour mixture. Do not over mix at this stage, stop mixing as soon as the last streaks of flour are incorporated. Gently fold in the majority of the raspberries, then evenly divide the batter between the prepared tins. Sprinkle the remaining raspberries on top of the batter, pushing them down slightly.
Bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, before removing them from their tins to cool completely.
For the buttercream, whisk together the sugar and egg whites in heat-safe bowl until combined. Then using a bain-marie, heat the mixture, stirring occasionally until it reaches 155-160F on a candy thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer the mixture will be very hot to the touch and the sugar will have dissolved.
Once the mixture has reached the right temperature, take the bowl off the heat and using an electric mixer whisk on high speed for about 10 minutes until you reach medium-stiff peaks and the mixture has returned to room temperature.
With the mixer on low, add in the butter a tablespoon at a time ensuring each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. The butter must be at room temperature for it to be properly incorporated.
Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract and mix again for a few minutes until the buttercream is silky smooth and light. Then add the food colouring if using, and mix for a few minutes until fully incorporated. Add 1/4 of the buttercream into a piping bag and snip off the end to have a plain round nozzle. Add another 1/4 of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used the Wilton 2D).
To assemble, place one sponge onto a cake board and using the buttercream in the plain piping bag, pipe a circle 'dam' round the edge of the cake. Then fill the gap with half of the jam. Place the second sponge on top and repeat with the buttercream and remaining jam.
Next, crumb coat the entire cake with buttercream and place in the fridge for 20 minutes. Then cover the cake with a thick layer of buttercream and using a bench scraper, scrape off the excess to leave a smooth exterior. Using the piping bag fitted with the star tip, pipe swirls around the edge of the top of the cake. Then finally, add sprinkles to the swirls and the bottom half of the cake.
I am obsessed with watching Instagram videos of cakes. Specifically cakes being lavishly smothered in buttercream, covered in intricately piped buttercream flowers or ganache dripped round the edges. Its taking over my life.
Craig is so sick of watching them over my shoulder, but its my absolute guilty pleasure! Its super satisfying and so therapeutic.
So when it came to making my sisters birthday cake, Instagram was my first source for inspiration. Buttercream flower wreath cakes are all over Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube…you name it! So I thought I’d give it a try. I actually practised the roses on some cupcakes a few weeks back (blog post to come!) and let me tell you it is notttt as easy as people make it look! But practise makes perfect and all that!
I used swiss meringue buttercream for the flowers, the light texture is perfect for this kind of piping. Although in the August weather you do need to work quickly so it doesn’t get too warm, it makes it impossible to pipe the delicate petals then!
I made about 25 buttercream flowers in total, though I only used 19 in the end. I made roses, ranunculus, chrysanthemums, blossoms and topped them all off with leaves! The leaves were piped direct onto the cake though – thats the fun final touch!
To make the flowers you absolutely need a flower nail. They’re usually included in most piping sets, so you might already have one! If not, you can buy them easily on Amazon. You also need to cut a load of squares out of baking paper, I promise its not as labour intensive as it sounds. Once you have both those things and an array of piping tips you’re all set up!
I watched a lot of YouTube videos by Cake Style for amazing tutorials on loads of different buttercream flower types. Once you have the plain roses down you can make quite a few pretty variations, but its the chrysanthemums I struggled with. The tutorials make them look so easy but its definitely not my strong suit, which is annoying because they can look so pretty!
I was pretty pleased with the flowers I created in the end though, and its definitely evoked a passion in me to create more flowery creations! Piping tips wise theres a few you need to have in your repertoire, but if you’re going to get any the Wilton 104 is the one to get. The 104 is what I used to create all the roses, ranunculus and blossoms. You’ll need Wilton tip 81 for the chrysanthemum’s and for the leaves Wilton tip 70.
Honestly though, I was sooo pleased with how it turned out! You know how usually you have the idea for a cake, and then when you come to make it its nothing like the vision? This actually was my vision!! I made it the day before I presented it to my sister though and I had nightmares all night of ridiculous things happening to it. Like the candles causing the whole cake to go up in flames – could that even happen!?
I think i’ve waffled on long enough about the flowers now, you probably want to hear about the actual cake!? It was a white chocolate sponge, with the nicest crumb texture! The recipe I was adapting called for cake flour, which isn’t something I’ve seen in the UK. After a bit of googling it turns out that you can substitute cake flour by the following: for every one cup of plain flour, take two tbsp’s out and replace it with two tbsp’s of corn flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than regular plain flour, which gives cakes a softer, lighter texture whilst still retaining structure. I think i’m converted.
For the buttercream I decided to pair a classic flavour combination with the sponge; raspberry! I also figured a raspberry swiss meringue buttercream would keep the cake light and not cloying. Especially with all those buttercream flowers on top! Also, if I’m honest the smooth and silky buttercream is just a million times easier to spread on a layer cake.
I followed my swiss meringue buttercream recipe as normal, and then for the last step added fresh raspberry puree that I’d strained. This gives a really fresh flavour, and means the buttercream is food colouring free! I also added freeze-dried raspberries in the layers for an extra raspberry kick – well I say that, thats what I intended to do! But I forgot to do it on the first layer – doh! – so lets all just pretend I did it on both!
Two final notes!
The raspberry SMB recipe errs on the side of caution so you’ll definitely have some left – I had a full tupperware box! But you can pop it in the freezer for up to 6 months – hooray! Just make sure its defrosted and back to room temp before using it.
And finally, I decided to live my Instagram dream and film the assembling of the cake. So if you want to see it all come together, watch below! (Apologies in advance for the slight out of focus :(!)
345g cake flour (or if you can't find that; 345g plain flour, minus 6tbsp plain flour, plus 6tbsp corn flour)
1tbsp & 1tsp baking powder
6oz white chocolate
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for flowers)
120ml large egg whites
200g caster sugar
340g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
240 egg whites
400g caster sugar
675g unsalted butter, room temperature
345g frozen raspberries, defrosted
1tsp caster sugar (or more to taste)
1/2tsp lemon juice
6g freeze-dried raspberries (one tube from the supermarket)
For the Cake:
Firstly preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4/180C and grease and line three 8" baking tins.
Using a bain-marie, melt the white chocolate over a low heat and then set aside to cool.
Sift together all the dry ingredients and set aside. Then, place the butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a high speed until creamy and light in colour. Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy.
On a medium speed add the egg yolks, vanilla and melted white chocolate. Then with the mixer on low, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and milk in three batches, ending and starting with the dry ingredients.
Mix until just combined, then pour into the prepared tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden.
Leave to cool a little in the tins, and then put them on a cooling rack to completely cool.
For the Buttercream Flowers:
Whisk together the sugar and egg whites in heat-safe bowl until combined. Then using a bain-marie, heat the mixture, stirring occasionally until it reaches 155-160F on a candy thermometer. The mixture will be very hot and the sugar will have dissolved.
Once the mixture has reached the right temperature, take the bowl off the heat and using an electric mixer whisk the mixture on high speed for about 10 minutes until you reach medium-stiff peaks and the mixture has returned to room temperature.
With the mixer on low, add in the butter a tablespoon at a time ensuring each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. The butter must be at room temperature for it to be properly incorporated.
Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract and mix again for a few minutes until the buttercream is silky smooth and light.
Separate the buttercream into different bowls, mix in required food colouring and place into piping bags, making sure to set aside the leaf green buttercream to use later.
Then using a flower nail and piping tips create an array of flowers, on squares of baking paper. Place the squares onto baking trays and place in the freezer while you make the rest.
For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Follow the swiss meringue buttercream recipe for the flowers, up to and including adding the butter in. Strain the raspberries through a sieve into a bowl, so you are left with the puree without the seeds.Mix in the sugar and lemon juice, and then pour the mixture into the buttercream.
Mix this on low at first, and then gradually increase the speed. It may take a few minutes for the puree to combine with the buttercream, so keep mixing until its fully combined.
Place one sponge onto the cake board and spread with a layer of raspberry buttercream and half of the freeze-dried raspberries. Then repeat with the second sponge layer. Then place the final sponge layer on top.
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the raspberry buttercream and then place in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.
Then cover the cake with a thick layer of raspberry buttercream and using a bench scraper, scrape off the excess to leave a smooth exterior.
Place some of the raspberry buttercream into a piping bag and pipe a ring on top of the cake for the flowers to sit on. This gives the flowers some height, rather than all lying flat on top of the cake.
Remove the buttercream flowers from the freezer, and peeling off the baking paper squares arrange them on the cake.
Finally, pipe leaves wherever needed on the cake for the finishing touch.
Excess frosting can be frozen for up to 6 months, and then defrosted fully before use.